Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts PC, OM, CH, DTD, ED, KC, FRS was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948. Although Smuts had originally advocated racial segregation and opposed the enfranchisement of black Africans, his views changed and he backed the Fagan Commission's findings that complete segregation was impossible. Smuts subsequently lost the 1948 election to hard-line Afrikaners who created apartheid. He continued to work for reconciliation and emphasised the British Commonwealth’s positive role until his death in 1950.
He led a Boer Commando in the Second Boer War for the Transvaal. During the First World War, he led the armies of South Africa against Germany, capturing German South-West Africa and commanding the British Army in East Africa.
From 1917 to 1919, he was also one of the members of the British Imperial War Cabinet and he was instrumental in the founding of what became the Royal Air Force.