A little biography of Koos De la Rey

Die leeu van die wes transvaal
A portrait of Koos de La Rey

A portrait of Koos de La Rey

Jacobus Hercules (Koos) De la Rey was a boer man and general that is remembered for being one of the strongest boer leaders in the 2nd Boer War. He was born in 1847 at his family farm in Doornfontein in the district of Winburg, Oranje Vry Staat. He was a Boer of Spanish, Hugenot French and Dutch descendent. As a young he has many other boers received very little formal education. His family moved to Kimberley because of the finding of diamonds there, and young De la Rey worked as a transport rider. De la Rey then married Jacoba Elizabeth Greeff and then the couple had 12 children and cared for other 6 children whose progenitors had died. He was a deeply religious man, rarely didn’t have a small Bible with him. He began is military live fighting in the Basotho War in 1865, in Sekhukune’s War in 1876 and also has a field cornet under the command of General Piet Cronjé in the First Boer War. He became a member of the Transvaal Volksraad in 1883 and was then a supporter of the Piet Joubert faction that opposed Paul Kruger’s politics in relation to the foreigners arriving to the Transvaal searching for gold. In the Second Boer War he was put as one of the generals under the commando of Piet Cronjé. In the begin of the War he have some victors and defeats against the british troops but was in the Battle of Magersfontein that he became famous inflicting a large defeat to the British troops in a week that was called for them Balck Week because they also are defeated in Colenso and in Spion Kop. However with massive reinforcements all over the empire the british captured Bloemfontein and Pretoria, capitals of Oranje Vry Staat and the Transvaal with Paul Kruger fleeing to Mozambique. Because of that general De la Rey, general Botha and general De Wet and others make and agreement for the Boer resistance that will be made using a technique of Guerrilla War.  Koos de la Rey was very successful in that kind of war with is attacks on british troops being highly successful. Is mobile campaign won battles in Moedwil, Nooitgedacht, Driefontein, Donkerhoek and Tweebosch. In Tweebosch he even captured british general Methuen and some of his troops but in an act of chivalry he released the british troops because he had no means to treat them. In the period of the Union of South Africa he continued is political live. After a trip to Europe to raise funds to the Boer cause he was in 1907 elected to new Transvaal parliament. In 1914 with the begin of the First World War the british sent troops to conquer German South West Africa, now Namibia, under the command of General Louis Botha. De la Rey always opposed to the war and many boers were sympathetic with the German cause and many had also German ancestry. They looked for a great leader and De la Rey ,who was in doubt, decided to join the rebels, many of them old comrade of arms. De la Rey was in is way to meet some rebel generals when we was killed by mistake by a road patrol.

General Koos De la Rey is one of the greatest Boer-Afrikaner patriots of the history. He is an example to all of us because in difficult times for the Boer Volk he give all, including is live, to keep his people free, fighting bravely against a stronger opponent. In his personal live he also showed a great character and moral.

The lion of the west transvaal

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