Role in World War II
As a member of the British Commonwealth, the Union of South Africa declared war on Germany shortly after the United Kingdom, on 6 September 1939. Three South African infantry divisions and one armored division fought under Allied commands in Europe and elsewhere, most notably in the North African campaign and the Italian campaign. Most of the South African 2nd Division was taken prisoner with the fall of Tobruk on 21 June 1942. Under the Joint Air Training Scheme, part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, South Africa trained 33,347 aircrews for the British Royal Air Force, South African Air Force and other Allied air forces. Only Canada trained more.