The badges of rank for Commissioned Officers, known in military terminology as the "pip" had an exceptionally strong Christian background. These badges of rank were worn by officers in the South African Air Force from its inception in 1920 until South Africa became a Republic on 31 May 1961.

 The "pip" had a base in the form of a four-pointed star, symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem. Upon this star was mounted a Maltese Cross, symbolic of the Christian Crusaders who, based on the Island of Malta, undertook the Crusades to the Holy Land in their attempt to wrest the sacred soil and the Holy City of Jerusalem from the Turks.

Superimposed upon the Maltese Cross is a wreath of olive leaves, the symbol of good over evil - victory of the Christian Faith over Idolatry.

In a circular band inside the wreath of olive leaves are the Latin words "TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO" which translated into English would read "THREE JOINED INTO ONE", in other words, The Holy Trinity. In the centre of the circular band are three Bishops Mitres, once again symbolising the Holy Trinity.

These officer rank "pips" were replaced by a five-pointed star having the South African Coat-of-Arms in the centre for junior officers and the Castle, representing the Castle of Good Hope, in Cape Town, also with the South African Coat-of-Arms in the centre, for senior officers and higher.


Colonel Graham C.L Du Toit,Historical Research Office