ABO (Burger C.A. de la Croix). City Coins November 2009
This medal was awarded to a Boer Internee as opposed to those that are more commonly encountered to Boer Prisoners of War.
The names of the Burghers (including a number of Foreign Volunteers) under Genl. Pienaar, who crossed the border into Mozambique at Komatipoort on 23 September 1900, are not recorded in the published Boer PoW Registers.
According to international custom these men, a number of them with families, were regarded as internees. They were warned that they would be shot or imprisoned if they tried to return to the ZAR.
The British, however, were not quite satisfied with the presence of the Boers in Mozambique and after lengthy negotiations it was decided that the majority of them would be sent to Portugal. This was done between February and June 1901 when some 890 males and 175 females (150 of the total were younger than 16 years) were shipped to Portugal and interned in six different towns.
Clifford de la Croix served in the Johannesburg Commando under Genl. Ben Viljoen and fought at Elandslaagte, Colenso and Spion Kop.
He probably crossed into Mozambique as a foreigner who did not want to fall in British hands. However, in Lourenco Marques he signed a petition for permission to remain there and not be sent to Portugal. As a result he and 9 other “subversive elements” were jailed in Lourenco Marques, sent to Portugal on a separate ship and there imprisoned in the Forte de Sao Juliao de Barra at Oeiras. He was known there as “Clifford de Creuse” and it is recorded that he tried to escape from the prison. Viva os Boers, privately published in Afrikaans by O.J.O. Ferreira, Pretoria, 1994, is a complete account of this little known facet of the Boer War.
In July 1902 he was repatriated to South Africa on board the SS Bavarian.
Clifford la Croix entered Natal with the Johannesburg Commando under General Kock, the force bypassing Talana and taking the village Elandslaagte and the railway station of the same name. Burger la Croix survived the heavy fighting at the subsequent Battle of Elandslaagte and fought at the subsequent important Battles of Spionkop and Colenso. He also served under General Viljoen and Commandant Schroeder and by September 1900 would have been part of the general retreat of the Boers.
O.J.O. Ferreira, in his privately published booklet Viva Os Boers, takes up de la Croix’s story. At the Boer Council of War, held at Hectorspruit in September 1900, it was decided that only mobile fighters, well experienced in local conditions, would continue with the next guerrilla phase of the war. Some 2,000 burghers under General Louis Botha and Ben Viljoen, withdrew northwards and the balance, some 3,000 strong, were advised to join General Coetzer at Komatipoort or to cross the border into Mozambique. This motley army consisted of elderly burghers, foreign volunteers, etc. The Portuguese authorities were afraid that the Boers would destroy the bridge over the Komati River or even engage the British on Portuguese soil. After a message from President Kruger that the bridge must not be touched, General Coetzer left with some 250 men to join General Botha leaving General Pienaar in command. On 21 September Portuguese secret agents promised Pienaar favourable terms if the Boers would surrender to the Portuguese and thus prevent a confrontation with the advancing British forces. Two days later some 2,000 unarmed, men, women and children crossed the border into Mozambique.
The British were not entirely happy with the presence of a large number of Boers in Mozambique and after lengthy negotiations it was decided to send the majority to Portugal. De la Croix probably crossed the border as a foreigner and did not want to fall into British hands. In Loerenco Marques he signed a petition to remain there and not to be sent to Portugal. As a result he and 9 other “subversive elements” were jailed in Loerenco Marques, later being transported to Portugal where they were again incarcerated in the Fort De Sao Juliao de Barra at Oeiras. He was known there as Clifford de Creuse and is on record as attempting to escape from the prison. He was repatriated in July 1902.