In recording conflicts involving South Africans, the Ditsong National Museum of Military History narrates our military past, including anti-apartheid armed action. Some fascinating, lesser-known aspects are revealed, such as the role of women. Displays include a one-of-a-kind fighter aircraft and a one-man submarine.

Did you know?

Over 350 decorations and medals are on display at the National Museum of Military History.

The Ditsong National Museum of Military History was opened in 1947 after World War II, originally to commemorate South Africa's role in that war in support of the Allied Forces.

As Field Marshal Jan Smuts stated on its opening, memorials 'serve to remind us of our past, of great deeds of heroism and sacrifice; they also serve as a pointer, and sometimes as a warning to the future'.

The scope of this military history museum in Johannesburg has expanded to include all military conflict South Africans have experienced, and today its collection contains over 44 000 items in 37 categories, including aviation, armoured fighting vehicles, uniforms, communications, medicine and military music.

Displays include the Anglo-Zulu and the Anglo-Boer Wars, World War I and II and the anti-apartheid armed struggle waged by Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC.

Some of the highlights at this military history museum include:

  • a one-man submarine called the Molch, used by the Germans in World War II;
  • a visual display recording resistance to war and national service throughout South Africa's military history;
  • hundreds of orders, decorations and medals;
  • the history of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) until integration into the South African National Defence Force in 1994;
  • the role of South African women in war service;
  • the Me 262 B-1a/U1 aircraft, the sole remaining example of this night fighter in the world.

The museum's library has rich archival resources for those researching relatives who fought on South African soil, or who were members of the country's armed forces. It continues to record oral histories to ensure the experiences of ordinary servicemen and women are preserved for posterity.

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