b. 16/08/1879 Whilton, Northamptonshire. d. 26/03/1948 Carshalton, Surrey.
Henry Reynolds (1879-1948) was born at Whilton Wharf, near Daventry, Northamptonshire on 16th August 1879. His gravestone shows his date of birth as 16th August 1883, but he appears in the 1881 Census aged 1 and the Army List agrees with 1879. Henry’s father, Thomas Henry Reynolds, was born at Foleshill, Warwickshire. He married Tryphena Gadsden, in 1866 at Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire. Thomas was a businessman based at Daventry railway station. Thomas was Mayor of Daventry four times, and was also a parish councillor, rural district councillor, guardian of the Daventry Poor Law Union, manager of Whilton School, a churchwarden and a Colour Sergeant in the Althorp Company of Volunteers. Thomas and Tryphena had ten children in all.
Henry was educated at Daventry Grammar School and was then employed in the family corn and coal merchant business, which included a coal wharf at Long Buckby. He served as a trooper in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry 1902-1907. On 3rd October 1905 he married Gwendolen Jones at Brixworth, Northamptonshire and they had three children – Thomas (sadly killed in a road accident in 1931), Gwendoline (died aged just 28 in 1935), and Velia.
Henry enlisted in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry on 5th October 1914 and was commissioned in 14th Reserve Battalion, Royal Scots on 8th July 1915. He went to France on 22nd August 1916 and joined A Company, 12th Royal Scots on 25th August. He was awarded the Military Cross on 12th April 1917 for his actions in the attack on Greenland Hill near the chemical works at Roeux – he reorganised his company when all officers were casualties and led it into the attack with great courage and coolness. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 4th May and Temporary Captain on 2nd July.
On 20th September 1917 near Frezenberg, Belgium, Captain Reynolds' company were suffering heavy casualties from enemy machine-guns and a pill-box. Captain Reynolds reorganised his men and then proceeded alone, rushing from shell-hole to shell-hole under heavy fire. When near the pill-box, he threw a grenade which should have fallen inside, but the entrance was blocked, so crawling to the entrance he forced a phosphorus grenade in. This set the place on fire, killing three, and the remainder surrendered with two machine-guns. Afterwards, although wounded, Captain Reynolds captured another objective, with 70 prisoners and two more machine-guns.
He was wounded, and evacuated to Britain on 22nd November. While recovering from his wounds he was employed by the Ministry of Labour from May 1918 to March 1919. The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 1st June 1918. He was demobilised on 3rd November 1919 though he rejoined as a Captain in 2nd Loyal North Lancashire on 11th June 1921. He transferred to the Regular Army of Reserve of Officer on 16th August 1927.
Henry was the Superintendent and Steward of Sir Frederick Milner Homes, Beckenham, Kent 1930-1933 and at Leatherhead, Surrey 1933-1942. He was granted the Freedom of Edinburgh and Northampton. He died at Carshalton, Surrey on 26th March 1948 and was buried in St Giles’ Churchyard, Ashtead, Surrey. In addition to the VC and MC, he was also awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and George VI Coronation Medal 1937. The VC is held by the Royal Scots Museum, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL SCOTS MUSEUM, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.
BURIAL PLACE: ST GILES CHURCHYARD, ASHTEAD, SURREY.
Henry Reynolds' medals at The Royal Scots Museum
(Picture - Thomas Stewart).
War Illustrated, 1st December 1917
Whilton, Northamptonshire (Paul Lee)