My callsign is Roland

Soon after arriving in Australia, former SADF Major General Roland de Vries made it absolutely clear: my callsign is Roland.

SAMVOA was delighted and honoured to host Roland de Vries and his wife Henriette during October 2013 as SAMVOA Guests of Honour.

former SADF Major General Roland de Vries

former SADF Major General Roland de Vries

For his battlefield exploits and tactical astuteness, Roland de Vries has rightfully been called the “Rommel of the SADF.” After assimilating the principles of such diverse military geniuses as Napoleon, Sun Tzu, Heinz Güderian and Boer general, Christiaan de Wet, he and a band of daring young commanders tossed aside military textbooks and developed their own doctrine of Mobile Warfare, South African-style.

Roland De Vries’s career bracketed the 22-year South African Border War and is irrevocably interwoven with the machine he helped create – the incomparable Ratel Infantry Combat Vehicle – and his beloved regiment, the renowned 61 Mechanised Battalion Group.

As a world authority on mobile warfare he was invited to give a talk at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra during his visit. SAMVOA was privileged to have Roland and his lovely wife Henriette join us in Perth and Melbourne at our annual formal dinners in 2013.

We had a packed house at the RSL club in Belmont, WA, where Roland spoke about his experiences and time in the SADF and the many battles he commanded and participated in during the Angolan campaign.

A passionate and charismatic speaker, Roland had the audience gripped as he led them through a tour-de-force of what it was like to motivate and lead young soldiers into battle, often with the odds stacked against them, and how it was possible to out-maneovre and out-fight the enemy time-and-time again, and more importantly, to bring his men back home.

His recollection of the orders, the planning and the countless battles and skirmishes spanning his 22-year career is simply remarkable, with descriptions so vivid that you could literally smell the diesel and taste the dust.

It was an honour to have Roland and his wonderful wife Henriette as our guests, and an experience that will surely live on in the memory of those who had the privilege of meeting the great man.

Roland, General, we salute you!

Click here for a detailed report and photo gallery of Roland De Vries and and his wife Henriette’s visit to Australia.

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