b. 10/07/1896 Wandsworth, London. d. 12/06/1982 Lambeth, London.
Reginald Leonard Haine (1896-1982), known as Bill, was born at Earlsfield, Wandsworth, London on 10th July 1896. His father, Harry James Haine, was a teacher, and married Louisa Margaret Smith at Crewkerne, Somerset in 1891. She was an assistant schoolteacher and schoolmistress prior to her marriage. Just after Bill’s birth, his father had become a Metropolitan Police officer, and had reached the rank of Detective Sergeant by 1901. Bill only had one brother, Harry Willis Haine, born in 1892.
It is not known where Bill was educated, but he was a patrol leader with Petersham Boy Scout Troop. He was articled to a firm of accountants when he enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company on 28th August 1914, eleven months underage. The Battalion was inspected by King George V and moved into camp at Aveley near Purfleet, Essex expecting to have six months training. However, this was cut short and he was sent to France. He was wounded on 16th June 1915 and rejoined the Battalion on 21st October. Promotion followed rapidly – Lance Corporal, Lance Sergeant and then Sergeant on 12th March 1916. He was promoted again to Company Sergeant Major on 15th November and was commissioned on 7th December. He was appointed to command C Company on 13th April 1917.
On 28th/29th April 1917 near Gavrelle, France, when British troops were holding a salient which was being repeatedly counter-attacked by German forces, Second Lieutenant Haine organised and led six bombing attacks against a German strong point and captured the position, together with 50 prisoners and two machine-guns. The enemy at once counter-attacked and regained the lost ground, but Second Lieutenant Haine formed a "block" in his trench and for the whole of the following night maintained his position. Next morning he again attacked and recaptured the position. His splendid example inspired his men during more than 30 hours of continuous fighting.
Lieutenant General Sir William Congreve VC, the Commander of XIII Corps personally went to congratulate Bill and Alfred Pollard on their actions when the Battalion came out of the line on 1st May. The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917, and he was the first Richmond man to be awarded the medal. The Council wanted to set up a subscription on his behalf, but he refused as he saw no connection between money and his action. He and Pollard were invited to a celebatory lunch at Armoury House following their investiture. When Pollard was asked to speak, all he said was “Thank you very much everybody” and sat down. The audience were not impressed and asked Bill to elaborate. He stood up and said “I think Alf’s said all there is to say” and promptly sat down too!
He was promoted to Lieutenant on 7th June 1918 and was seconded on probation to the Indian Army on 6th November. He served with the 1/35th Sikhs, before transferring to the Indian Army on 11th January 1919. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Dakka, Afghanistan on 17th May 1919, when during the fighting near the summit of a hill he did everything he was able to to collect the man for an attack on the enemy trenches in the face of heavy fire. He was presented with his MC at Buckingham Palace on 10th March 1920. Bill acted as Adjutant of 1/35th Sikhs as an acting Captain in May 1919, and left the Indian Army on 12th January 1920, and became a chartered accountant with Messrs Andrew Low, Son & Co and was later a director of Jennings Hotels Ltd.
He married Dora Beatrice Holder on 21st November 1923 at St Mark’s, Woodcote, Purley, Surrey. The couple lived in Purley, until moving to Eastbourne, Sussex. They had one daughter, Janet, born in 1924. Bill was promoted to Captain in the Honourable Artillery Company on 2nd January 1928 and he transferred to the TA Reserve of Officers on 15th June 1929. During World War II, he served in the Home Guard and was Lieutenant Colonel and Commanding Officer of 58th Surrey (Purley) Battalion from 1st February 1941. He was a founder member of the VC and GC Association in 1956 and joined the Committee. He was also Chairman of the Baltic Exchange Branch of the British Legion, meeting in Merchants Hall, London.
Bill died at St Thomas’s Hospital, Lambeth, London on 12th June 1982. His funeral was held at the Parish Church of St Mary, Eastbourne and he was cremated at Chichester Crematorium, where his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. A memorial plaque was placed at the crematorium. In addition to the VC and MC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with “Mons” clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, India General Service Medal 1908-35 with “Afghanistan NWF 1919” clasp, Defence Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal 1977. The VC is owned privately and is on loan to the Imperial War Musuem, where it is displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: IMPERAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: CHICHESTER CREMATORIUM, WEST SUSSEX. ASHES SCATTERED.
Reginald Haine VC's memorial at Eastbourne Priory (Pic: Steve Lee)
Picture courtesy of Paudie McGrath
Haine's medals displayed in Ashcroft Gallery, IWM
Wandsworth Town Hall
War Illustrated, 30th June 1917