General Johannes Hermanus Michiel (Jan) Kock.
Jan Koch was born at Graaff-Reinet in 1835. He was only 10 when he witnessed the Battle of Zwartkopjes. At 13 he was at the Battle of Boomplaats (August 1848). He served as Landdrost (Magistrate) of Potchefstroom in 1874, and was elected to the Volksraad. He became a member of the Executive Council of the ZAR In 1892. In the early days of the Boer War he advanced southwards swiftly and took the mining town of Elandslaagte, 16 miles from Ladysmith. The Battle of Elandslaagte saw him mortally wounded. He was buried in the Old Cemetery in Pretoria. In the archives of the Siege Museum in Ladysmith is a photocopy of a contemporary newspaper article on the death of General Kock. The source of the article is not identified. The article is reproduced here as it presents a different perspective on the events leading to General Kock’s mortal wounding. The following is an extract from a letter written by Vyvian J Cogill, the well-known mile runner, a lad of 19,
addressed to his mother in Johannesburg. He was with the Johannesburg Commando, and stuck to General Kock to the last, was with him when he fell, and only left him when it was impossible to render further service. “We kept firing till the infantry came on and looked like surrounding us: then some fled. In the flight the Germans suffered heaviest. Some fifty of us, however, stuck to our posts with the officers. Then the fire from the Maxims and the cannon became so hot that we etreated to the back of the kop, where Commandant Viljoen and General Kock rallied our men, and we came forward again. Some of the others took the nearest horses and cleared off; but twelve of us stuck to the General and returned to the guns, while the balance went with Commandant Viljoen to the other side of the kop. When the English were about 500 yards away we mowed them down like sheep. It was terrible! I never felt a little bit of fear. I prayed to God, and fired like a soldier, taking aim every time. All the time, a good many men were retreating. I was about ten yards from the General, behind three
stones, when a lyddite shell struck the first of the three, about two yards in front of me, and burst, sending the stones all over the place; a piece of stone just falling by my side. Then the General and some others retreated, and we followed suit. We stopped, and just as we stood, one of the men close to me was shot in the side and ran like a buck. We followed, saw him mount a horse, and get away. By this time we were only fifty men altogether left on the kop, and the English soldiers were climbing up and surrounding the kop. Some of the Highlanders were running after our men, when eight of us, including General Kock, opened fire on them at 50 yards, and not one escaped. Just then General Kock was shot down just at my side, and three others wounded within five yards of me. I stood up and said “God help me,” and van Niekerk (detective) got a shot in his wrist. As his hand dropped he took his gun in his left, threw his gun over his arm, and continued firing as if nothing had happened. General Kock lay half-dying at our feet, and we could not help him. Then the infantry came round the other side of the kop and there was only a space of 200 yards to go through to get out, and only about five men standing on the kop, with bullets and shells flying around. None of us would put up the white flag and we made a break for safety. The English turned a maxim on us, and I never ran in all my life as I did then. When I got down my horse was gone, but I found another, and, after just escaping a charge from the Lancers, got clean away. I slept in a kraal that night and met Commandant Viljoen the next day as I was going to Newcastle.
He was buried in Pretoria