Thursday, June 01, 2017

Corporal W R D F Reynolds, 3rd Royal Fusiliers

Corporal Reynolds was a patient at Beechland House in 1917 but nothing is known about this man other than his entry in Nurse Oliver’s album which has been heavily over-written in blue biro.  It reads:


Cpl W R D F Reynolds
3rd Royal Fusiliers

Wounded at Ypres on 23rd May 1915

Corporal Reynolds shares this page with entries from Private Angus McKenzie of the 1/5th Seaforth Highlanders, 801298 Gunner John William Thurgood of the Royal Field Artillery, 21/1522 Private Charles Edward Harrald of the 24th Northumberland Fusiliers and 21370 Lance-Corporal John William Williams of the 24th and 27th Northumberland Fusiliers.

The National Archives holds a medal card for a Walter R Reynolds but as this man’s entitlement is only for the British War and Victory Medals, this cannot be the same person. Nurse Oliver’s patient would also have been entitled to a 1914 or 1914/15 Star (depending on when he arrived overseas).

I think it is unlikely that Reynolds would have been first at Hickwells and then transferred to Beechland House as a result of his May 1915 wound and still be there in April 1917.  It seems more probable that he was there as the result of either sickness or an operation which may or may not have been related to his 1915 wound.

The war diary for the 3rd RF in May 1915 reveals that the battalion is in trenches in front of Belewaarde Lake.  The entry for 23rd May 1915 reads: “Fairly quiet day.  Casualties 12 wounded.”  The following day, which was Whit Monday, the Germans attacked at 2:30am.  The war diarist reported “continuous rifle and machine-gun fire” and the gas which was released at the same time is described as “particularly thick and strong.”  Casualties for the 24th May are noted as four officers killed, three wounded and missing, one missing and eight wounded.  Other Rank casualties are recorded as 536 killed, wounded and missing.

Writing of the day’s events on 30th May, Major E Baker commanding the 3rd Battalion wrote, “Out of a total of 800 rank and file, some 70 men were collected in a gassed condition in rear of the line and 150 men remained ultimately with me.  The remainder were killed, wounded or missing.”

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