Background to Rooiplaas

Rooiplaas, the parachute training facility in Bloemfontein, South Africa, has a rich history. It played a crucial role in the training of thousands of paratroopers and parachute packers. In 1960, the first South African soldiers received their training as paratroopers in the United Kingdom. On 1 April 1961, the first parachute unit in the history of the South African Army and of the Union of South Africa was established with the formation of the 1 Parachute Battalion – the only full-time paratroop unit of the South African Army. This year, 2021, we are celebrating 60 years as a parachute unit.

In 2015, paratrooper Nico Beneke (D Coy 78/79; G Coy 79/80; G Coy 81/82) belonging to various paratrooper social media platforms perceived a need among paratrooper veterans wanting to belong to an independent social organization. The aim was to reconnect, to reminisce, to recall and to remember their fellow brothers-in-arms. Alongside the assistance of RSM Johan Landman (A coy 73-87), the Rooiplaas website was born as a social platform and social organization for paratrooper veterans. They set out concrete steps to bring this vision to life by establishing one of the most successful paratrooper websites with hits from countries as far away as Russia, Ukraine, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand etc. The Rooiplaas Community is the biggest representative group for paratroopers in South Africa.

The uniqueness of this website lies in the diversity of information available such as snippets and interesting facts focusing on the history, operations, parachutes, training, uniforms and equipment and some well-known personalities that were paratroopers. Included are the names of the Honoris Crux and Pro Patria medals recipients, the RSM’s from 1962 – 2006, the Commanding Officers from 1961 – 2009 and those who excelled in and received their national colours in sport. Quirky and sweaty tales relating to The Marble and Die Aapkas, as well as books penned by paratroopers give honour to the rich and significant history of South Africa’s paratroopers. An exclusive feature of the website is the names of fathers and sons, as well as brothers from the same family that served as paratroopers. Throughout the website are training and operational photographs as received from fellow paratroopers.

Rooiplaas is honoured to have a blog by the military strategist, Eeben Barlow, founder of Executive Outcomes, who has served as a Major General in several African armies. He shares his wealth of information and insight into the inner workings and conflict, crime and corruption in Africa, and has authored the following bestsellers: The War for Africa: Conflict, Crime, Corruption and Foreign Interests; Executive Outcomes Against All Odds; and Composite Warfare: The Conduct of Successful Ground Forces Operations in Africa

Brigadier General Edward George McGill Alexander’s, MA dissertation, The Cassinga Raid investigates the happenings, propaganda from both sides and the subsequent battle, unpacking fact from fiction. It focuses on the military dimensions of the raid, examining first the military situation in southern Angola and northern Namibia at the time, then looking at Cassinga itself before reviewing the airborne capability of the SADF. His PhD research, The Airborne Concept in the South African Military, 1960-2000: Strategy Versus Tactics in Small Wars focuses on the concept of vertical envelopment as a form of military manoeuvre and defining airborne operations as comprising parachute, helicopter and air-landed actions. It goes on to describe strategy and tactics as they apply to the discussion before briefly tracing the development internationally of vertical envelopment and the thinking of the South African military about airborne operations. 

This website is a work in progress and will be updated regularly. We would love to hear your stories. Should there be any omissions or incorrect information, please get in touch at or contact Nico at 082 800 3238. To become a member of the Rooiplaas Community is free of charge. Terms and Conditions apply.

Ex alto vincimus