Isaac Pierre de Villiers

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Isaac Pierre de Villiers
Born (1891-08-20)20 August 1891
Somerset East, Eastern Cape Province
Died 11 October 1967(1967-10-11) (aged 76)
Pretoria, Transvaal
Allegiance  South Africa
Service/branch South African Army
Years of service 1914–1945
Rank Major-General
Unit Royal Field Artillery (WWI)
Commands held GOC 2nd South African Infantry Division (1940-42)
GOC Coastal Area Command (1942-45)
Battles/wars North African Campaign
Relations Vivienne Marais (wife, m.1936)
Other work Attorney
Commissioner, South African Police

Major-General Isaac Pierre de Villiers CB MC (1891–1967) was a South African military commander and police official. Originally an attorney by profession, he served in the Royal Field Artillery during World War I, and was awarded the Military Cross.[1] In 1928, he was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the South African Police, later succeeding to the post of Commissioner.[2]

Early life

He was born in Somerset East, Eastern Cape Province on 20 August 1891 to Jan S. de Villiers of Cape Town.[2] He was educated at the South African College School in Cape Town and the University of Cape Town.[2]

Military service

He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery during World War I, serving in German South-West Africa and the Western Front.[2] He was awarded the Military Cross while serving in the 68th Brigade.[1]

Back in South Africa in 1919, he joined his father's law firm, but in 1928 was appointed Commissioner of Police for the Union of South Africa.[2]

He volunteered for military service in World War II, and served as General Officer Commanding 2nd South African Infantry Division from 1940 to 1942. He trained the division, which incorporated a police battalion, and commanded them in internal security operations at the beginning of the war, then commanded the division in North Africa in 1941 and 1942, for which he was made a Companion of the Bath (CB).[3] During this campaign units under his command, including New Zealand cavalry,[4] were responsible for the capture of Bardia,[5] but many of the South African division's personnel were taken prisoner of war at Tobruk.

From 1942 to 1945, he commanded the Coastal Area Command, responsible for the coastal defence of South Africa. In this capacity he was called upon to co-operate with the Royal Navy, and made a name both by his determination to make a success of his command and by his scrupulous fairness in dealing with individuals.[2]

In addition to the honours for his military service he was appointed a Commander in the Venerable Order of Saint John in 1936,[6] and a Knight in the same order in 1943.[7]

Family life

He married Vivienne Marais in 1936. He retired in 1945, but was chairman of the Immigrants Selection Board from 1946 to 1948. He died in Pretoria on 11 October 1967.[2]


  1. ^ a b "No. 31093". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1918. p. 56.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Isaac Pierre de Villiers". Dictionary of South African Biography. III. Human Sciences Research Council. 1987. p. 656. ISBN 0-7969-0420-0.
  3. ^ "No. 35697". The London Gazette. 8 September 1942. p. 3945.
  4. ^ Loughnan, RJM (1963). "Chapter 9 — The Capture of Bardia". Divisional Cavalry. The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–1945. Wellington: Historical Publications Branch. pp. 149–168. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  5. ^ "The British Capture of Bardia (December 1941 - January 1942): A Successful Infantry-Tank Attack (Information Bulletin No. 21, U.S. War Department, WWII)". (originally a US War Department publication). Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  6. ^ "No. 34297". The London Gazette. 23 June 1936. pp. 4013–4014.
  7. ^ "No. 36315". The London Gazette. 4 January 1944. p. 114.
  • Militaria - Official Professional Journal of the SADF (Vol 12/2: 1982)
  • Black and Blue: Policing in South Africa, by John D. Brewer, 1994, Oxford University Press
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