Generaal Koos de la Rey, Lion of the West, and me

Koos de la Rey was the son of Adrianus Johannes Gijsbertus, so like me he was lucky he wasn’t given his father’s names. I could have been Gerhardus.

He was Brave
He is generally* regarded as the bravest of the Boer generals during the Boere Oorlog and as one of the leading figures of Boer independence.
As a guerilla his tactics proved extremely successful. He ran the Brits ragged in the Western Transvaal. 

*well, by us, his descendants anyway . . .

Gen de la Rey 2

He was Pragmatic
Before hostilities, De la Rey opposed the war until the last, but once he started fighting he fought to the Bitter Einde. Once he was accused of cowardice during a Volksraad session by President Paul Kruger. He replied that if the time for war came, he would be fighting long after Paul Kruger had given up and fled for safety. This prediction proved to be exactly accurate. Once the war was lost, he spent a lot of energy getting his people to accept the Treaty of Vereeniging, even traveling to Ceylon to encourage Boer prisoners of war to come home.

arse kicked, life saved

He was Chivalrous
De la Rey was noted for chivalrous behaviour towards his enemies. At Tweebosch on 7 March 1902 he captured Lieutenant General Lord Methuen (whose arse he had kicked earlier at Magersfontein) along with several hundred of his troops. The troops were sent back to their lines because de la Rey had no means to support them, and Methuen was also released since he had broken his leg when his own horse had fallen on him. De la Rey provided his personal cart to take Methuen to hospital in Klerksdorp.

His Earlier Life
As a child De la Rey received very little formal education, and as a young man he worked as a transport rider on the routes serving the diamond diggings at Kimberley (so he probably visited Harrismith?). He and wife Nonnie had twelve children and they looked after another six children who lost their parents.


Oh, and Generaal Koos de la Rey had a sister; She had a great great grandson also called Koos.
That’s me.



  • thanks, wikipedia for the war history, and sister Sheila for the family history

4 thoughts on “Generaal Koos de la Rey, Lion of the West, and me

  1. Pingback: My small slice of Vrystaat | Vrystaat Confessions

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  3. A flurry of correspondence followed this important post:
    I wrote to Jon:
    Subject: Re: Generaal Koos de la Rey, Lion of the West, and me
    Hey, hey
    Field Marshall Lord Michael J Fogg once expressed an interest in which boer generaal I dubiously claimed as an ancestor, so I did some (biased and spotty) research.

    The family link I have on very good authority (my sister Sheila told me).
    Also, the similarities are apparent: Brave, Chivalrous, Bald, Hordes of kids, ens

    Would you please send this link to King Michael, the Laird of Fouriesburg?
    Use your personal cart to convey same.

    On 08 May 2014 Jon wrote to King Michael:
    Mike & Denyse
    How about this – Koos Swanepoel related to Koos de la Rey – follow the link!!
    We will have to convene a meeting to discuss this important historical artifact

    On May 8 2014 Mike wrote:
    No time to convene meetings – we have already planned the counter revolution and are aligned additionally with Andries Pretorius!
    We are calling the faithful to a beraad at Union House to restore the Republics to their former glory – details to follow.

    Yours in battle
    Field Marshall Lord Fogg of Fouriesburg
    Nominee of Emily Hobhouse

    Jon wrote:

    yasis – kak innie land


  4. Pingback: Communicating, Clarens-style | Vrystaat Confessions

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