b. 11/06/1848 Scariff, County Clare, Ireland. d. 18/10/1931 Bournemouth, Dorset.
Sir Reginald Clare Hart (1848-1931) was born on 11th June 1848, at Scarif, County Clare, Ireland, the son of Lieutenant-General Henry George Hart, and Frances Alicia, daughter of Reverend Holt Okes. He was educated at Marlborough College and Cheltenham College, and represented at Rugby Union between 1864-1865. He passed into the Royal Military Academy in June 1866, and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on 13th January 1869, and served for three years in England.
In July 1869, he was awarded the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal and a French Medal of Honour for saving the life of a drowning man at Boulogne-sur-Mer. He was wounded in the rescue attempt. He was then present at the Siege of Paris during the Commune War of 1871. In 1872, he married Charlotte Augusta, daughter of Mark Seton Synnot, a Deputy Lieutenant from County Armagh, Ireland. They went on to have three sons and a daughter.
In 1872, he embarked for India and was posted to the Bengal Sappers and Miners. From September 1874 to March 1878, he was Assistant Garrison Instructor at Umballa, subsequently returning to England on sick leave. In December 1878, he returned to India, and served with the Khyber Field Force in the Afghan War. He then took part in the 2nd Bazar Valley Expedition against the Zaka Khel Afridis, and for distinguished conduct on 31st January 1879, he would be recommended and awarded the VC (London Gazette, 10th June 1879).
On the 31st January 1879, Lieutenant Hart was witnessed running over 1,200 yards to the assistance of a wounded Sowar, who was lying in a river bed, exposed to heavy enemy fire. Hart managed to reach the man, drove off the enemy who were close by, and brought him back to cover with the aid of some soldiers who had accompanied him on the way. Hart was awarded the VC, and was presented with his medal by Queen Victoria on 9th December 1879 at Windsor Castle.
After his investiture, he served in the 1st Division of the Khyber Field Force, and employed in reconnaissance. In February 1881, he was posted to the West Coast of Africa with Sir Samuel Rowe to the Ashanti War that had broken out. He was promoted to Brevet Major in 1882. He then served in the Egyptian War later that year being twice mentioned in despatches, and receiving the Brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1884, he returned to India, and in December that year, was awarded a Silver Clasp from the Royal Humane Society for saving a gunner who had fallen off a pontoon bridge into the Ganges. From 1888 to 1896, he was appointed Director of Military Education in India. In 1896, he was promoted to Brigadier-General and commanded a 2nd Class District in India.
In 1897-1898, he commanded the 1st Brigade in the Tirah Campaign, twice being mentioned in despatches, and receiving a knighthood. In 1899, he was given command of the Quetta District with a temporary rank of Major-General. He would then serve on the North West Frontier before returning to the UK. In 1904, he was created KCVO, and commanded the Cape Colony from 1907 to 1909. He would later be Commander in Chief in South Africa from 1912-1914. He then became Lieutenant-Governor of Guernsey during the First World War.
Following retirement, Hart lived on the south coast, and died in Bournemouth on 10th October 1931 aged 83. He was buried in St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Netherbury, Dorset. His medals are owned by the Ashcroft Trust and displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IW MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: ST MARY'S CHURCHYARD, NETHERBURY, DORSET.
Reginald Hart's medals including VC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London (August 2014).