Fact file: Regiment De la Rey


Named after the “Lion of the West”, as General Koos de la Rey was known during – and after – the South African War, the regiment was formed at Potchefstroom by Government Notice on September 7, 1934.

Before the Second World War, battalion headquarters were at Rustenburg in the Transvaal. The unit had company headquarters at Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp and Ventersdorp, with a support company at Brits. Mrs J E Morkel, daughter of General De la Rey, became the first honorary colonel of the regiment.

The regiment was affiliated to the Northamptonshire Regiment of the British Army.

The regiment was mobilised on July 18, 1940 and at first served in the Transvaal. Because the commanding officer, Lt-Col (later Brig) HP van Noorden, was by then commanding a battalion of the Field Force Brigade, command of the regiment passed to Lt-Col WD Basson.

In 1943, as part of the 6 SA Armoured Division’s 12 Motorised Brigade, RDLR was merged with a Witwatersrand Rifles battalion, becoming known as the “Royal Boere”, whose watchword was “ODJ” (Op die job). The composite battalion saw much service in the Apennines, especially in April 1945, on the eve of the war’s end, suffering heavy losses at Monte Caprara (April 15/16). The unit’s casualties were among the heaviest in the division. During the Italian campaign 119 soldiers were killed, 576 wounded and 17 were posted missing in action.

The regiment also distinguished itself in taking Allerona on June 15 1944, in fighting on Monte Querciabella and Monte Fili, and in forcing the River Greve in July 1944. WR/DLR were the first on Monte Stanco in the Apennines in October 1944. For almost the entire Italian campaign RDLR was commanded by Lt-Col Jack Bester, until he was appointed to command the newly formed 13th Motorised Brigade.

On January 1 1960 the regiment was renamed Regiment Wes-Transvaal with headquarters at Potchefstroom. After objections and strenuous efforts it resumed its original designation as Regiment De la Rey on September 1 1966.

The regiment participated in the South African Border War, also known as the Namibian War of Independence, the conflict that took place from 1966 to 1989 in South-West Africa (now Namibia) and Angola between South Africa and its allied forces (mainly UNITA) and the Angolan government, South-West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), and their allies the Soviet Union and Cuba, the RDLR wikipedia entry reads. The unit played a notable role in Operation Packer, sequel to Operations Modular and Hooper in the vicinity of the south-eastern Angolan town of Cuito Cuanavale. The objective of the operation was to drive the combined FAPLA/Cuban force back across the Cuito River to the west bank. The primary assault force which was to ‘drive the enemy’ out of Tumpo on the Cuito’s east bank, consisted of 13 Olifant tanks with crews from Regiment President Steyn, a squadron of Ratel 90’s from Regiment Mooirivier (RMR), a mechanised infantry battalion from Regiment de la Rey and from Regiment Great Karoo, three companies from 32 Battalion, three UNITA regular battalions and two semi-regular UNITA battalions plus a number of other components.

In the post apartheid-era, RDLR became the first Reserve Force unit to deploy a full sub unit (a rifle company) for six months on a peacekeeping mission. In October 2005 the company and a mortar platoon deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo attached to 2 SAI Bn as part of Operation Mistral. The troops returned home in May 2006.

Current role: Mechanised infantry.

Current base: Potchefstroom

Battle honours:

Italy 1944-1945

Monte Querciabella

Monte Salvaro

The Greve

Casino II

Monte Fili

Monte Sole/Caprara


Gothic Line

Po Valley


Monte Stanco

Camposanto Bridge

Motto: Ons Waarsku (We warn)