Military Wiki
Jan Dirk Breytenbach
Born (1933-07-04)July 4, 1933
Allegiance  Republic of South Africa
 United Kingdom[1]
Years of service 1950–1955 South African Army
1955–1961 Royal Navy
1961–1987 South African Army[1]
Rank Colonel
Awards Van Riebeeck Decoration[2]
Other work Author

Jan Dirk Breytenbach DVR SD SM MMM[3] was appointed by the Founder of the South African Special Forces Brigade – General Frits Loots – as the first commander of 1 Reconnaissance Commando – the first unit founded within the South African Special Forces. He was also appointed as the first commander of the 32 Battalion, known colloquially as Buffalo Battalion, as well as 44 Parachute Brigade

Military career[]

He attended the Army Gymnasium in 1950[4] and was awarded the Sword of Peace in 1953 and joined the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm after serving in the Armoured Corps and saw service in the Suez Crisis in 1956. He rejoined the South African Defense Force in 1961[3] and soon after completed one of 1 Parachute Battalions courses. He founded 1 Reconnaissance Commando in 1971. He attended Staff College in 1977[5] and was promoted to Colonel, becoming Senior Staff Officer for Operations at Northern Transvaal Command[3]

He commanded 44 Parachute Brigade from 24 September 1980 to 31 December 1982. He founded the SADF Guerilla school which he commanded until his retirement.[3]

Breytenbach retired from the military in 1987, and has written a number of books since then. He is the brother of South African poet and writer Breyten Breytenbach and of war correspondent/photographer Cloete Breytenbach. During the 1980s, Breyten and Jan Breytenbach held strongly opposing political viewpoints, so with his brother opting for a more moderate approach, this influential family effectively covered the political spectrum.

See also[]

Books by Jan Breytenbach[]

  • Breytenbach, Jan (1986). Forged in battle. Saayman & Weber. p. 149. ISBN 0-7971-0025-3. 
  • Breytenbach, Jan (1990). They live by the sword. Lemur. p. 272. ISBN 0-620-14870-5. 
  • Breytenbach, Jan (1997). Eden's exiles, one soldier's fight for paradise. Queillerie. p. 259. ISBN 1-874901-24-4. 
  • Breytenbach, Jan (2001). The plunderers. Covos Day. p. 322. ISBN 1-919874-01-1. 
  • Breytenbach, Jan (2002). The Buffalo Soldiers, the story of South Africa's 32-Battalion, 1975–1993. Galago. p. 360. ISBN 1-919854-07-X. 
  • Breytenbach, Jan (2008). Eagle Strike: The Story of the controversial airborne assault on Cassinga 1978. Manie Grove Publishing. p. 640. ISBN 978-0-620-40614-7. 


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Authors – Col. Jan Breytenbach". The Galago Publishing Company. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  2. "History of the South African Special Forces". SAForces Club. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 We conquer from above. PelsA Books cc. 2010. pp. 259. ISBN 978-0-620-46738-4. 
  5. Uys, Ian (1992). South African Military Who's Who 1452–1992. Fortress Publishers. p. 30. ISBN 0-9583173-3-X. 

External links[]

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