The Sappers Creed
We Sappers, with common interests before the war, forged a bond of comradeship during the war, created our association, so, the now, as long as we are one, not one of us will be alone. Before, during, now, we will remember those whose names lie in our hall.
Before: The name of Sapper is derived from the common name given to a Military Engineer. Military engineering dates back to the 15th century, where during the siege of a city, Sappers were hired to dig tunnels under the walls of the city, enlarge the end of the tunnel to form a cavern supported by wooden supports, to burn these supports at a precise time to collapse the city walls and allow the army to invade. Later when gunpowder was invented these tunnels could be exploded causing tremendous devastation in the enemy ranks. Sappers were also used to dig trenches (called Saps) in a zigzag pattern to build gun emplacements close enough to the city walls to blow them down while protecting the Gunners. The form of Sappering continued through to the First World War.
During: At the outbreak of the Second World War the Sappers were called upon again to lead the invading army into battle. This time it was in clearing a path through the mine field or building roads and bridges across rivers for the mechanized attack, and the Battle cry “Follow the Sapper” was heard again.
In 1943, well before the end of the War, anticipating a post-war depression and consequently unemployment, certain senior officers evolved the idea of an organisation to help re-habilitate members of the Corps on their return to civilian life. The Old Comrades Association was formally recognised as a Welfare Organisation on 22 November, being given the number WO 314. On 8 February1944, a formal constitution was adopted, and the name was changed to the less cumbersome and more apt “Sappers Association”.
Now: In July 1945, “Sappersrus”, an area of land on the north bank of the Magalies River (which flows into the Hartebeespoort Dam – near Pretoria) was acquired. Soon a fully equipped camp was set up, where Sappers who had been demobbed from the army were accommodated while being integrated back into a post-war society.
In September of that year a split-pole and thatch shop, built near the river, was opened with a general dealers license and served tea, cakes and sweets to enthusiastic Sappers who braved the dirt road to Sappersrus, and the social side of Sappers was born. In 1946 the first permanent structure, a cottage consisting of 3 linked rondavels was opened as a dining room serving simple meals to Sunday visitors.