A home for the memory and study of military history

The Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, provides a home for the memory and study of military history and houses some of the rarest military equipment in the world, including the world-famous Me262 jet aircraft of the Second World War.

Aircraft, armour, artillery, medical, naval and engineering equipment, small arms, medals, badges and uniforms, spanning the history of military conflict involving South Africans, are on display throughout the Museum.

Ongoing restoration projects ensure the collections’ continued preservation for future generations, with the added advantage of bringing to light new information about these artifacts of bygone times.

Battle of Britain 

There is a temporary display of the Battle of Britain. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few" Winston Churchill

LT Gen. A.M.L. Masondo Library

The reference library, archives and photographic archives hold a large and unique collection of books, pamphlets, journals, archival documents, photographs, audio-visuals and maps with qualified staff on hand during working hours : 09h00 - 16h00. (Normal museum entrance fees apply)

Tours

One of the most important functions of the museum is that of education. Qualified professional tour guides are available during working hours to provide subject based tours to both learners and adult groups. To make a booking please contact the museum's Education Officer +27 (0)10 001 3515

Conference & function facilities

There are five conference and function events halls. To enquire about hiring these facilities please contact the Functions Co-ordinator +27 (0)10 001 3515

Children's playground

The children’s playground, located in a tranquil garden setting, is a popular venue for birthday parties and the museum's conference and function facilities are available for hire.

Open hours

The museum is open all year round between 09:00-16:30, except on Good Friday, Christmas Day and the first Sunday in September when the 'Jazz on the Lake' festival takes place.

There is a nominal entrance fee.

History

The Museum began its existence during the Second World War when a few far-sighted individuals grasped the need to collect material evidence of our nation’s contribution to world history.

The Museum was opened on 29 August 1947 and in 1975 its scope was widened to reflect all military conflict in which South Africans have taken part. Many of the displays can be viewed in the two Bellman aircraft hangars, the original buildings on site when the Museum was opened. Over the years, many other buildings have been added. The Museum is also the home to various enthusiast and military veterans’ organisations.

The German Me 262 two-seater night fighter was converted from a two-seater trainer to cater to the urgent need for an aircraft capable of combating the British Mosquito and was deployed in the defence of Berlin in 1945. It was captured in Denmark at the end of the war and flown to the United Kingdom prior to it being shipped to South Africa in 1947. 

The Molch One-Man Submarine is one of several types of midget submarines built by Germany during the Second World War. These were intended for attacking Allied supply shipping off the European coast but were found to be unreliable. The example on display was the first item to be acquisitioned at the Museum. 

An example of a rare weapon is the German 7.92mm  Fallschirmjägergewehr (FG) 42, an automatic rifle developed for German airborne troops. It was first used in action in September 1943 during the rescue of Benito Mussolini by German glider troops. Thereafter it was used by German paratroopers in Italy and on the Eastern Front.

Among the valuable medals, orders and decorations located in the collection, is the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery, awarded posthumously to the South African Capt Edwin Swales after he had been killed during a bombing raid on Pforzheim in Germany in 1944. The award can be seen along with the other medals in the Swales group.

A rare decoration is the Honorus Crux Diamond Class. As the highest decoration between the years 1975 and 1991, the Diamond Class was to be awarded to members of the South African Defence Force who distinguished themselves by performing deeds of outstanding valour at extreme risk to their lives. Recipients would have carried the post-nominal titles HCD. The decoration was never awarded and the example presented to the Museum is the only one of its kind to be struck. 

These are just some of the examples of the aircraft, armour, artillery, medical, naval and engineering equipment, small arms, medals, badges and uniforms that are on exhibition throughout the Museum.

Open Hours

Daily, 09h00 - 16h30

Closed, Good Friday, Christmas Day & first Sunday in September, when the Jazz On The Lake Concert is held at Zoo Lake.

Admission

Please refer to their website under Contact Details for current prices.

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