Южноафриканский Танковый Корпус отправил в 1941 – 42 несколько превосходных полков бронеавтомобилей и разведывательных батальонов, чтобы они сражались в Западной Пустыне и Киренаике. Ранее, в пустынях и высокогорьях Абиссинии, они внесли большой вклад в успех кампании против итальянцев. Сила полков бронеавтомобилей основывалась на южноафриканском броневике «Мармон-Херрингтон», спроектированном капитаном Д. Р. Райдером. Впервые они участвовали в бою в составе 4-го южноафриканского полка бронеавтомобилей, приданного 11-му гусарскому полку, который возглавлял наступление 7-й бронетанковой дивизии на форт Капуццо. Этот полк понес большие потери под Сиди Резехом, но продолжал участвовать в операции до захвата Бенгази в ноябре 1942. В начале следующего года было принято решение распустить Танковый Корпус и передать его личный состав и технику 6-й южноафриканской бронетанковой дивизии, которая позднее сражалась в Италии.
At the start of the war, South African had no armoured units. Some of the Active Citizen Force units, such as the Imperial Light Horse, had cavalry titles but all were infantry battalions. Only the Defence Rifle Associations maintained mounted units. As mentioned above, a Mounted Commando Division was formed during the war but this eventually was converted to armoured units. Many armoured car, tank and motorcycle companies were formed during the first half of 1940. These were eventually formed into units of the South African Tank Corps. The South African Tank Corps (SATC) had its beginnings in the formation of 1st Armoured Car Company, which was raised from the Permanent Force on 31 January 1940. The personnel of this company went on to form 1st Light Tank Company in May 1940 and moved to Kenya on 1 June 1940 equipped with 12 Mk III Light Tanks. As additional companies were formed or about to be formed, it was necessary to establish an organization for these units. The 1st Battalion, The South African Tank Corps was established at Robert's Heights on 23 May 1940 as a holding unit for the 1st Light Tank Company, 1st and 2nd Armoured Car Companies and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Motorcycle Companies. The 1st Battalion was reorganized on 15 July 1940 into Nos. 1 and 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicle Battalions, but both battalion were later disestablished since many units had transferred to East Africa. The following units of the SATC were formed during 1940:
1st Light Tank Company - Raised May 1940 from original 1st Armoured Car Company.
1st Armoured Car Company - Reconstituted in May 1940.
2nd Armoured Car Company - Raised in April 1940 from the South African Police.
3rd Armoured Car Company - Raised in May 1940 from volunteers.
4th Armoured Car Company - Raised in June 1940 from volunteers.
5th Armoured Car Company - Raised in June 1940 from volunteers.
11th Armoured Car Company - Raised on 1 September 1940 from Regiment Suid-Westelike Distrikte.
12th Armoured Car Company - Raised on 1 September 1940 from Regiment Westelike Provinsie.
13th Armoured Car Company - Raised 3 October 1940 from 2nd Imperial Light Horse.
14th Armoured Car Company - Raised 3 October 1940 from 2nd Royal Natal Carabineers.
21st Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
22nd Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
23rd Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
24th Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Railways and Harbour Brigade.
31st Armoured Car Company - Raised 1940 from the Special Service Battalion.
34th Armoured Car Company - Raised January 1941 from the Cape Town Highlanders.
1st Motorcycle Company - Raised May 1940 from the South African Police.
2nd Motorcycle Company - Raised May 1940.
3rd Motorcycle Company - Raised May 1940.
A number of the companies served in East Africa (1st Light Tank Company; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 13th, 14th Armoured Car Companies; and 1st, 2nd Motorcycle Companies). By 1941, all companies were absorbed into battalions of the South African Tank Corps. The South African Tank Corps was to be short-lived and was absorbed into the South African Armoured Corps in 1943.
Until May 1940, the majority of the South African Army had not mobilized. The only exception was the 2nd Special Service Brigade (Field Force Brigade on 1 February 1940). Italy's possible entry into the war changed that and the South African Army began to mobilize in May. The initial plan was to create a Mobile Field Force with six brigades along with divisional troops. In addition, two mounted and two dismounted brigades were to be included along with supporting artillery and tanks. The force was to be ready two months after mobilization. An additional home defence division of three brigades was also be raised along with up to four Defence Rifle Association divisions of three brigades each. In reality, three ACF divisions each of three brigades were formed and the two mounted brigades already formed were organized into the 1st Mounted Commando Division on 10 June 1940. The 1st South African Division was formed with 1st, 2nd and 5th Brigades on 13 August 1940; the 2nd South African Division with 3rd, 4th, and 6th Brigades was raised on 23 October 1940; and the 3rd South African Division was also raised on 23 October 1940 with 7th, 8th and 9th Brigades. The mobilization began on 23 May 1940 and was accomplished by the end of the year. Many units were immediately despatched to East Africa and served there through 1941.