Jan Kemp (general)
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Jan Christoffel Greyling Kemp
|Born||10 June 1872|
|Died||31 December 1946(aged 74)|
|Allegiance|| South African Republic|
|Commands held||Krugersdorp Commando|
Battle of Pietershoogte
Battle of Nooitgedacht
Battle of Rooiwal
Battle of Tweebos
Member of Parliament
Jan Kemp was born in the present Amersfoort district, Transvaal on 10 June 1872, the younger son of Jurie Johannes Kemp and Maria Aletta Greyling. His maternal grandfather, Abraham Carel Greyling, a stepson of the Voortrekker leader, Piet Retief, was killed with Retief in 1838. His paternal grandfather, Petrus Johannes Kemp, emigrated from Belgium between 1830 and 1840.
In November 1899, he was elected assistant field-cornet. On 27 February 1900 he distinguished himself at the Battle of Pietershoogte (also known as Spoorwegkop/Railway Hill) despite the Boer forces having to withdraw and the British forces taking the position.
In February 1901 he was promoted to combat general and instructed to make contact with General JH de la Rey in the western Transvaal.
It had been intended that Kemp should invade the Cape Colony. This plan was abandoned and he became one of De la Rey's ablest and most daring officers, showing his tactical acumen particularly in the actions at Vlakfontein (29–30 May 1901), Moedwil (30 September 1901) and Battle of Ysterspruit, near Klerksdorp in the Western Transvaal on 25 February 1902.
His suggestion (September 1901) that a military government should supplant the civil government of the Transvaal republic, was vetoed by De la Rey. In the Battle of Tweebos on 7 March 1902, where his horse was shot under him, he played a prominent part in capturing Lord Methuen's column. On 11 April 1902, at Roodewal, in one of the last important actions of the war, Kemp launched a recklessly brave attack in De la Rey's absence, on Major-General RG Kekewich's forces, once again using a mounted charge over open terrain, which had become his characteristic mode of attack.
His wife died in March 1941 and his already failing health deteriorated rapidly. Despite this he remained active in parliament.
He published two volumes of memoirs, the first, published in 1941, dealt with events before 1902 and the second, published in 1942, covered the subsequent period.
His physical and moral courage cannot be doubted. He was determined, direct, forceful, impetuous in the field and in politics and, above all, a fervent believer in the republican form of government for South Africa.
- The town of Jan Kempdorp in the Northern Cape Province is named after Kemp.
- When, as Minister of Lands, Kemp, was asked in 1936 to set aside a special reserve for the endangered Cape mountain zebra, he gave his now infamous reply: "No! They're just a lot of donkeys in football jerseys." Fortunately for the species, he was persuaded otherwise, and the Mountain Zebra National Park at Cradock, Eastern Cape was established in 1938.
- A Union Defence Force era regiment on the east rand was named in his honour. Regiment Kemp was eventually amalgamated into Regiment Oos Rand.
Vir Vryheid En Vir Reg – Generaal J.C.G. Kemp. 1941 NASIONALE PERS
English translation: "For Freedom & Justice". Anglo-Boer War memoir of one of the ablest Boer Generals (1st of 2 volumes – this vol. ends with the Peace of Vereeniging). Die Pad Van Die Veroweraar – Generaal J.C.G. Kemp . 1942 NASIONALE PERS
English translation: "The Road of the Conqueror". Anglo-Boer War memoir of one of the ablest Boer Generals (2nd of 2 volumes – this vol. starts with the Peace of Vereeniging, covers the 1914 rebellion and ends with Kemp as cabinet minister).