b. 21/09/1881 Bristol, Avon. d. 23/02/1916 Le Touquet, France.
Douglas Reynolds (1882-1916) was born at 5 Miles Road, Clifton, Bristol on 21st September 1881. His father was Captain (later Honorary Lieutenant Colonel) Henry Charles Reynolds, who served in the Royal Engineers. His mother was Sarah Eleanor Baker nee Goodwyn. His parents married in Clifton on 17th April 1877. After his father left the Army in 1881, the family settled at 44 Royal York Crescent, Clifton. Douglas had three brothers, including Basil, who died in 1896 aged just 12, and a sister. Douglas was educated at Glyngarth Preparatory School and Cheltenham College, where he was a member of the Rifle Corps.
Douglas entered the Royal Military Academy Woolwich in 1898 and was commissioned on 6th January 1900. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1901 and served with the Mounted Infantry in South Africa for the last four months of the war. With the Royal Field Artillery, he served with 148 Battery at Aldershot, 4 Battery at Newcastle, Natal, 42 Battery at Bradford, 78 Battery at Neemuch, Bombay, and commanded No 1 Ammunition Column at Campbellpore and later Nowshera, India in 1911. In June 1912, whilst in India he became a freemason, a member of Kitchener Lodge, Simla, No 2998.
Douglas was in Ireland with his unit when war broke out and arrived in France on 20th August 1914. On 26th August 1914 at Le Cateau, France, Captain Reynolds took up two teams with volunteer drivers, to recapture two British guns and limbered up two guns under heavy artillery and infantry fire. Although the enemy was within 100 yards he managed, with the help of two drivers (Job Henry Charles Drain and Frederick Luke), to get one gun away safely. On 9th September at Pysloup, he reconnoitred at close range, discovered a battery which was holding up the advance and silenced it.
He was seriously wounded on the Aisne on 15th September 1914 when a shrapnel bulley passed through his side and up into his chest, from where it could not be extracted. He was promoted to Major on 30th October 1914, and was awarded the French Croix de Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur on 3rd November 1914, with the gazetting of the Victoria Cross coming 13 days later. His Victoria Cross was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th January 1915. On recovering from his wound, he trained a new howitzer battery in LXXXIII Brigade RFA, which he commanded and took into action.
He married Doris nee Petersen of Heron’s Ghyll, East Sussex on 29th March 1915 at Epsom, Surrey. She was the daughter of Danish ship owner, William (later Sir William) Petersen. He was Chairman of Petersen & Co Ltd, European and Brazilian Shipping Co Ltd and the British Committee of the International Shipping Registry. Douglas and his wife had a son, Douglas William Sinclair Petersen “Peter” Reynolds born at the end of January 1916. His son would be killed in action serving with the Irish Guards in Boulogne on 23rd May 1940.
Tragically, the month before his son’s birth, Douglas was knocked out by a gas shell and was appearing to be recovering from its effects. He decided to stay with his Battery, but subsequently he contracted septicaemia at No 1 Red Cross Hospital (Duchess of Westminster’s Hospital), Le Touquet, where he died on 23rd February 1916. He was buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, France. In addition to his VC, Douglas was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps, 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf and the French Croix de Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur. The medals were part of a collection owned by Sir John Roper Wright, which were presented to the Royal Artillery in the 1940s, and are now held in the Royal Artillery Museum Collection. The medals are currently in storage as the Museum at Woolwich has been closed.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL ARTILLERY MUSEUM, WOOLWICH.
BURIAL PLACE: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY, FRANCE.
Douglas Reynolds' medals including his VC on display at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, London (January 2015).
Douglas Reynolds VC's memorial paving stone on display in Bristol. It was laid in August 2014.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT I, ROW A, GRAVE 20
RA Chapel, Woolwich
Family Grave at St Peters Churchyard, Leckhampton
Freemason's Memorial, London
Cheltenham War Memorial
Freemasons Memorial, London (Brian Drummond)