About Christian Ernst Gerhardus Brits
As a motorist travels through Tempe, Bloemfontein, they will notice a street sign - "Papa Brits Street". The uninitiated may wonder who this Papa Brits was and how he came by the nickname "Papa". To most veterans of the Special Services Battalion (SSB), Lt Col Christiaan Ernst Gerhardus Brits was no stranger. Indeed, he wasa legend in his own lifetime.
After leaving Boksburg High School, he joined the Union Defence Force on 28.8.1918. He served in a number of units and attended courses at the Military College at every chance. He rapidly rose through the ranks. He also spent a year in on course in England in 1934 and spent part of the time with the Guards Brigade.
On his return to South Africa in 1935 he was appointed to the newly established SSB as Drill Sergeant and the became Regimental Sergeant Major of the SSB on 1.9.1936, which office he held until 9.3.1937 when he was Commissioned.
He was not only respected, but was loved by his men who would called "Papa". On 15.3.1937 he was promoted to Lieutenant and Adjutant, then to Brigade Major of the SSB from 1.5.1940, and then to Officer Commanding the SSB from 28.5.1940.
After World War II broke out in 1939 he was well placed in having trained troops for battle and was an obvious choice for a leadership role in the North African and Italian campaigns between 1942 and 1945. His leadership and successes there were rewarded with numerous decorations including the DSO and Bar.
After the war he retired and went farming in the Groblersdal district. Papa Brits died on the 28 May 1963 and was buried with full Miltary Honours at Roberts Heights (Thaba Tswane), Pretoria.