Reynolds, Frank. Died 9th May 1915

Frank Reynolds’ birth was registered in the third quarter of 1893 in Rugby, when his family were living in Campbell Street, Rugby. His father was Tom Reynolds, a well-known local builder who in 1908 then carried out his business from 18 Dunchurch Road, Rugby.[1] His mother was Tom’s first wife, Emma Julia (née Burnham), who died in 1899. His father then married Maria (née Bagnall) in 1900.   Sadly Maria also died, in March 1915, just before Frank left for the front in April 1915.

In the 1901 the family was still living in Campbell Street, Rugby and comprised father Tom aged 37, his wife Maria aged 27, sons John H G aged 9, Frank aged 7, and Herbert aged 4.

In 1911 Frank was a footman at Michell House, one of the Boarding Houses for Rugby School, at 3 Barby Road and at the outbreak of War, Frank, though still a footman, was now employed by Mrs Cross of Cottesbrooke Grange, Northamptonshire.

Cottesbrooke Grange

 

 

Frank Reynolds joined the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment and according to his medal card went to France as Private No.16483 on 22 April 1915. He probably formed part of the reinforcements after the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915.

Frank’s two brothers also joined up and an article and photograph (below) of the three boys in uniform with their father appeared in the Rugby Advertiser just after Frank had been reported missing and a colleague stated therein that he was ‘… killed … and that his body was afterwards missing’.[2]

Reynolds pic2

The 2nd Northants were in the 24th Brigade in the northern pincer of the attack at Aubers Ridge, on 9 May 1915. The Diary of the 2nd Northants records difficulties with communication and the conditions … ‘Several attempts were made to get in touch with the front line, but communication was impossible and the view was much restricted by the trees in front.’[3] Several Northants men were awarded the DCM that day and the citations give some idea of the extreme conditions, ‘… the intervening ground was so swept by machine gun fire that the companies could not be supported.’[4] ‘… one portion of a trench was being vacated owing to intense artillery fire.’[5]

A fuller report is available on the action at Aubers Ridge on 9 May, where several other Rugby men in the Rifle Brigade died.   There were more than 11,000 British casualties, most within yards of the front-line. It was one of the highest casualty rates of the war. The battle was a disaster for the British, no ground was won and no tactical advantage gained.

Reynolds pic3

Frank’s body was not recovered and his death, on 9 May 1915, is remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium. Frank Reynolds was awarded the Victory, British and Star Medals.

Frank’s brothers also joined up. John was a Corporal in the 2nd Grenadier Guards and Herbert, also a Corporal, in The Rifle Brigade. All three were killed in action. Frank on 9 May 1915, Herbert on 5 September 1916 and John on 20 November 1916.

Their father, Tom Reynolds, died in 1936 aged 75 years, his three sons Private Frank Reynolds, Corporal Herbert Reynolds and Corporal John H C Reynolds, and his second wife Maria (née Bagnall) are remembered on a grave in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

Reynolds pic4

On 22 March 1922 Rugby War Memorial Gates were unveiled, dedicated and formally opened. Tom Reynolds, the father of three deceased Rugby soldiers, was asked to open the Rugby Memorial Gates.

A report on the opening is reproduced below:

Rugby War Memorial Gates


The Gates were unveiled on Sunday 12th March 1922, which fortunately, in view of the fact that this was a completely outdoor event, was a sunny day. The unveiling was carried out by Field Marshal Earl French of Ypres, assisted by Mr & Mrs Hardman, who had lost three sons in the war. The ceremony attracted thousands of the general public, while the inner area was reserved for subscribers and families of the fallen.

The Gates were then dedicated by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, Dr A A David, a former Headmaster of Rugby School. Mr Tom  Reynolds, a local builder who had also lost three sons in the war, formally opened the Gates with a large key presented by Foster & Dicksee, a local firm of building contractors. He was allowed to keep this key as a souvenir.

After Mr Reynolds had walked through the gates, those assembled sang “O God our help in ages past”, and the ceremony concluded with the laying of wreaths.[6]

A further article recently appeared in the Rugby Advertiser requesting information about the whereabouts of the key. [7]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

[1]       Edinburgh Gazette, May 1908.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, from http://trees.ancestry.co.uk/tree/22135023/person/1190040266.

[3]       War Diary, 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment.

[4]       Walker, R. W., and Chris Buckland, compilers. Citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914–1920, Naval and Military Press, 2007

[5]       Northampton Mercury, Friday, 6 August 1915.

[6]       http://www.rugby.gov.uk/info/200257/local_history_and_heritage/962/war_memorial_gates

[7]       Rugby Advertiser, 11 November 2011.

[8]       http://www.rugbyadvertiser.co.uk/news/local-news/do-you-hold-the-key-to-rugby-s-war-memorial-gates-1-3240322

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