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Obituary J. H. REYNOLDS, V.C., LL.D. Lieut.-Colonel R.A.M.C.(ret.) Lieut.-Colonel James Henry Reynolds, V.C., died on March 4th, aged 88. He was born on February 3rd, 1844, the second son of Laurence Reynolds, J.P., of Dalyston House, County Longford, and was educated at Castle Knock and at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated M.B. and Ch.B. in 1867. He entered the Army as assistant surgeon in 1868, and was posted to the 36th Foot, now the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. He became surgeon in 1873, on the abolition of the rank of assistant surgeon, and surgeon major in 1879, by a special promotion for his services at Rorke's Drift. He was then, however, only one year short of promotion by length of service in the ordinary course. He became brigade surgeon lieutenant colonel in December 1892, and retired in January 1896. After his retirement he was employed for some time in medical charge of the Royal Army Clothing Factory at Pimlico. He served in South Africa in the Griqualand expedition of 1875; in the Kaffir war of 1877-78, taking part in the action with the Galekas at Impetu, and in the Zulu war of 1879, when he was one of the three officers in the fort at Rorke's Drift, which withstood the attack of the Zulu army after the annihilation of a British force, chiefly consisting of the 24th Foot, the South Wales Borderers, at Isandhlwana, and saved the colony of Natal from invasion by the rush of the triumphant army of Zulus under King Cetewayo. The other two officers were Lieutenant Chard, R.E., and Lieutenant Bromhead, 24th Foot; all three got the V.C. He was also present at the battle of Ulundi, where the Zulu army was completely defeated and the Zulu kingdom brought to an end. He was mentioned in dispatches in the London Gazette of March 15th, 1879, and received the medal with a clasp, as well as the V.C. He was also given the LL.D. by Trinity College, Dublin, the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, Ireland; and the Gold Medal of the British Medical Association. His V.C. was gazetted in June 1879, as follows: "For the conspicuous bravery during the attack at Rorke's Drift on January 22nd and 23rd, 1879, which he exhibited in his constant attention to the wounded under fire, and in his voluntarily conveying ammunition from the store to the defenders of the hospital, whereby he exposed himself to a cross-fire from the enemy both in going and returning." Colonel. Reynolds was one of the three oldest V.C.s who attended the dinner in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords, at which the Prince of Wales presided, on November 9th, 1929. In 1880 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. M'Cormick.
Mr. WALTER G. SPENCER writes: Whilst Colonel Reynolds was in charge of the Pimlico Clothing Department he frequently sent workers to Westminster Hospital for treatment and, later, he came to me about his health, the last time at the beginning of 1929. Then a cancer, for which a grave operation would previously have been called for, disappeared in about ten days under radium. Colonel Reynolds was thus able to walk at the head of the V.C.s at the Thanksgiving Ceremony, and to be present at the dinner in the House of Lords. Our conversations often returned to Rorke's Drift, and from notes I jotted down I have picked out a few of his reminiscences which I have not noticed in print. There were thirty-six patients in hospital, most in different stages of typhoid fever. No preparations had been made for the defence of the station. Reynolds was senior officer, having been already six years in South Africa; Bromhead and Chard were young subalterns just out from England; Dalton, an army noncommissioned officer, who had rejoined, had had experience in the methods of defence employed by the Boers. When fugitives from Isandhlwana reached Rorke's Drift, it was first proposed to evacuate the place, but Reynolds declared that to be impossible. Even if the convoy could cross the river the ascent of the opposite bank was so long and steep that the Zulus would certainly catch it up. It was Dalton who arranged the defence with mealie bags. When the Zulus came into view there appeared horsemen in scarlet, and the cry was that the cavalry were returning; but Reynolds pointed out that the riders were not rising in their saddles, but sat the horses as did the natives. Coming nearer, the Zulu impi drew up, and ceremoniously took snuff, heralding a charge to the uttermost. A few Zulus got into the garden and into the hospital before two patients in bed could be got within the laager; a third lost his head, took a wrong turning, and was also killed. The remaining thirty-three cases were saved, and survived the subsequent stench.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] Reynolds Grave at Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Also known as: Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery
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Subject: Re: Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds Sun Apr 12, 2009 12:11 pm
I thought it would have stated Rorkes Drift some where on his grave..
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Subject: Re: Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:30 pm
[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] Source:Roll of commissioned officers in the Medical service of the British army.
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Subject: Re: Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:04 am
Reynolds, LIEUT. -COLONEL JAMES HENRY, V.C., late Roy. Army Med. Corps born 1844, son of Luke Reynolds, J.P., of Dalyston House, Co. Longford; educated at St Vincent's College, Castleknock, and Trinity College, Dublin; entered Army 1869; served in Griqualand 1875, in Kaffir War 1877-78, and in Zulu War 1879; awarded V.C. for his share in the defence of Rorke's Drift; retired; married (1880) Miss ELIZABETH McCoRMicK.
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Subject: Account Dr David Murphy Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:20 pm
Surgeon James Henry Reynolds and the Defence of Rorke's Drift, January 1879
by Dr David Murphy
"The immediate origin of the Zulu War of 1879 was Britain's desire to break the power of the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, who had an army of over 40,000 warriors. In late 1878 Sir Henry Bartle Frere, the British High Commissioner in South Africa, delivered a series of ultimatums to Cetshwayo which he knew would be unacceptable. Among other things Frere demanded that a British Resident be installed in Zululand to administer what essentially would have been a protectorate. The deadline for some form of reply to these demands was 31st December 1878 and, when no such reply was forthcoming, a state of war was assumed to exist. On 11th January, a force of 5,200 British and 8,200 native troops crossed into Zululand under the command of Lord Chelmsford with the intention of attacking the royal kraal at Ulundi. On the 22nd January 1879 the British camp at Isandlwana was attacked by a Zulu impi of some 20,000 men. A force of 1,700 men, both British infantry and Natal Native Contingent, had some initial success in holding back the Zulu army. As ammunition grew short all over the camp, positions were overrun and over 1,300 of the defenders were killed, the worst ever defeat inflicted by a native army on European troops. Most of the survivors were men of the Natal Native Contingent. There were less than sixty white survivors.
The mission station of Rorke's' Drift was under ten miles away from this battlefield, garrisoned by B Company of the 2/24th (The 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot (redesignated as the South Wales Borderers in 1881) and around 300 Natal Native Contingent under the command of Major Henry Spalding of the 104th Foot. The company commander of B Company, Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, and Lieutenant John Chard, Royal Engineers, were also present at the post. Four Zulu regiments which had not been fully engaged at Isandlwana, around 4,000 men, began to head for Rorke's Drift with the intention of killing the garrison and carrying off the considerable amount of supplies stored there. The scene was set for one of the most famous actions in military history, the subject of countless books and the epic 1964 film Zulu. Among the 400 men at the station was a young Irish surgeon who was to distinguish himself greatly in the coming battle.
James Henry Reynolds was born on the 3rd February 1844 in Kingstown, Co. Dublin. His father was Laurence P. Reynolds of Dalystown House, Co. Longford. James was educated at Castleknock College (1855-60) before entering Trinity College, Dublin, to study medicine. He received his B.A. (1864) and M.Ch. (1867), joining the Army Medical Department as an assistant-surgeon on 31st March 1868. Appointed as medical officer to the 36th (The Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot on 24th March 1869, he accompanied the regiment to India. During his time in India there was an outbreak of cholera and his calm attention to duty was noted. He received the thanks of the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Sandhurst, and was promoted to full surgeon in 1873.
A posting to South Africa followed and Reynolds campaigned during the Kaffir War of 1877-8, and was present at the battle of Impetu. At the outbreak of the Zulu War in December 1878 he was appointed as a medical officer to the Central Column under Lord Chelmsford. When the Central Column crossed over the Mzinyathi River into Zululand on 11th January 1879, he remained at the Rorke's Drift mission station, in charge of the hospital there. As the column departed he said farewell to two particular friends, Surgeon-Major Peter Shepard and Lieutenant Edgar Anstey of the 24th Foot. Both were to be killed at Isandlwana. Anstey left his dog, "Pip", in Reynolds care. The dog was to remain with him, yapping at his heels, for the duration of the Rorke's Drift action.
On the morning of the 22nd January 1879, Surgeon Reynolds rose early and carried out his rounds of the sick in his care. He had three Army Hospital Corpsmen and Private Henry Hook, B Company, 24th Foot, to assist him. There were thirty-three patients in the hospital, most of whom were suffering from dysentery, fever and injuries sustained in accidents. The only European casualties with wounds actually received in action were Corporals J.H. Mayer and Freidrich Schiess, both of the Natal Native Contingent. These two men had both been wounded in the leg while storming the kraal of the Zulu chief, Sihayo, on the 12th January. Surgeon Reynolds' most unusual patient was a Zulu warrior, a retainer of Sihayo, who had been wounded and captured in the same action. Surgeon Reynolds had put him in a room of his own.
The hospital building itself, originally built by an Irish settler, Jim Rorke, and later used by Mr and Mrs Otto Witt, Swedish missionaries, as their home, was not ideal for its new use. The floorplan of the hospital made it difficult for Surgeon Reynolds to carry out his normal duties. When the station was eventually attacked the interior layout of the building ensured that several patients were literally trapped in their rooms. Also there was a shortage of beds in the hospital and most patients were bedded down on straw pallets. The windows were too high and small to be used for loopholes in the defence of the building. Finally, and most significantly, the hospital's roof was thatched, making it vulnerable to fire.
Lieutenant Chard, who had been at the Isandlwana camp that morning, returned to Rorke's' Drift just before noon and informed Major Spalding of Zulu movements over the river. Spalding decided to go to Helpmekaar to see what was delaying a company of promised reinforcements. Before departing he consulted a copy of the Army List and, seeing that Chard was the senior of the two lieutenants present, informed him that he was in command. Yet there would appear to have been no sense of urgency at this stage and no efforts were made to improve the post's defences. Around 12 o'clock rifle-fire was heard from the direction of Isandlwana as the camp there came under attack and, having completed his duties, Surgeon Reynolds went with Chaplain George Smith, Mr Otto Witt and Private J. Wall to scale the heights of the Oskarberg mountain. Chaplain Smith had a telescope and they hoped to discover the reason for the firing.
From their vantage point they could see the back slopes of Isandlwana and after one o'clock a large body of native troops crossed the saddle of the hills and disappeared into cover on the near side of the mountains. Chaplain Smith later admitted that he thought that these were men of the Natal Native Contingent. Just after 3.00 p.m. horsemen were seen riding toward the post along the Natal bank of the Mzinyathi River. Surgeon Reynolds thought that they might be in need of medical assistance and descended down the mountain to meet them. He later described his movements that afternoon:
“At 1.30 a large body of natives marched over the top of Isandlwana in our direction, their purpose evidently being to examine ravines and ruined kraals for hiding fugitives. These men we took to be our native contingent. Soon afterwards appeared four horsemen on the Natal side of the river galloping in the direction of our post, one of them was a regular soldier and feeling they might be messengers for additional medical assistance, I hurried down to the hospital as they rode up. They looked awfully scared, and I was at once startled to find one of them was riding Surgeon-Major Shepards' pony. They shouted frantically, "The camp at Isandlwana has been taken by the enemy and all our men in it massacred", that no power could stand against the enormous number of the Zulu's, and the only chance for us all was by immediate flight. Lieutenant Bromhead, Acting-Commissary Dalton and myself, forthwith consulted together, Lieutenant Chard not having as yet joined us from the pontoon, and we quickly decided that with barricades well placed around our present position a stand could best be made where we were. Just at this period Mr Dalton's energies were invaluable. Without the smallest delay, he called upon his men to carry mealie sacks here and there for defences. Lieutenant Chard (R.E.) arrived as this work was in progress and gave many useful orders as regards the lines of defence. He approved also of the hospital being taken in, and between the hospital orderlies, convalescent patients (eight or ten) and myself, we loop-holed the building and made a continuation of the commissariat defences around it. The hospital, however, occupied a wretched position, having a garden and shrubbery close by, which afterwards proved so valuable to the enemy; but, comparing our prospects with that of the Isandlwana affair, we felt that the mealie barriers might afford us a moderately fair chance.”
The next hour was a time of hectic activity, as boxes of biscuits and bags of mealie grains were hauled out of the storehouse and used to fortify the post. Two wagons were also run in and bags were heaped around them. Surgeon Reynolds busied himself in preparing the hospital to receive an attack. Apart from supervising the placing of loopholes in the hospital walls, he also distributed large quantities of ammunition to the men who were to defend the hospital. Around 3.45pm a party of around 100 men of the Natal Native Horse arrived, fleeing the field of Isandlwana, and initially deployed to the south and east of the post to delay the Zulu advance. When the first Zulus were sighted at 4.20pm, however, they broke and fled. The majority of the Natal Native Contingent at Rorke's Drift did likewise, fleeing alongside their officer, Captain George Stephenson. Lieutenants Chard and Bromhead now had less than 150 men (95 men of B Company 2/24th plus some Commissariat personnel, Natal Mounted Police and Natal Native Contingent), with which to defend the post. Surgeon Reynolds later described the initial attack:
We opened fire on them from the hospital at 600 yards and, although the bullets ploughed through their midst and knocked over many, there was no check or alteration made in their approach. As they got nearer they became more scattered, but the bulk of them rushed for the hospital and the garden in front of it. We found ourselves quickly surrounded by the enemy with their strong force holding the garden and shrubbery. From all sides, but especially the latter places, they poured on us a continuous fire, to which our men replied as quickly as they could reload their rifles.
From this time until 4.00am on the following morning, the 23rd January, the Zulus kept the post at Rorke's Drift under constant attack. Maintaining a galling fire from the Oskarberg Mountain, they launched repeated rushes on the defensive walls of the post. Surgeon Reynolds continued his account of the action:
Again and again the Zulus pressed forward and retreated, until at last they forced themselves so daringly and in such numbers, as to climb over the mealie sacks in front of the hospital, and drove the defenders from there behind an trenchment of biscuit boxes, hastily formed with such judgement and forethought by Lieutenant Chard. A heavy fire form behind it was resumed with renewed confidence, and with little confusion or delay, checking successfully the natives, and permitting a semi-flank fire from another part of the laager to play on them destructively.
It is impossible in the space of this short article to describe the Rorke's Drift action fully. Numerous assaults were made on the post throughout that day and night, and Surgeon Reynolds distinguished himself greatly. He continually crossed the yard to the storehouse to get ammunition for the hospital's defenders and also distributed ammunition to the defenders on the walls. To do this he had to pass through the Zulu fire coming from the Oskarberg Mountain and the rocky terrace to the south of the camp. When Commissariat Dalton was shot in the shoulder while directing fire at the outer wall, Surgeon Reynolds rushed out to his aid with the dog, "Pip", at his heals. This act was later immortalised in Alphonse de Neuville's famous painting The Defence of Rorke's Drift, 1879.
Around 6.00pm the Zulus began to concentrate their attack on the hospital. The able-bodied men trapped inside gradually withdrew room by room, performing incredible acts of bravery in order to rescue the sick and wounded. In the course of the fight the roof caught fire and the hospital was soon in flames. Surgeon Reynolds transferred his patients, hospital orderlies and what medical supplies he could salvage to the storehouse and based himself there for the remainder of the fight. Using the light of the hospital fire he treated his patients' wounds. He extracted a bullet from the chest of Private Brickey, who had initially been thought to be dead. Surgeon Reynolds also attended to Private Fred Hitch who had been shot in the shoulder. He operated while the light remained good, removing thirty-six pieces of shattered shoulder blade out of Hitch's back before sewing him up. Around 4.00am the last Zulu attack was repulsed. At dawn it could be seen that the Zulus had withdrawn. At around 7.00am a large body of Zulus were seen on a hill to the south-east of the post. Some minutes later they retired. Surgeon Reynolds later wrote of that last night and the arrival of the relief column the following day:
During the whole of the night following, desultory firing was carried on by the enemy, and several feigned attacks were made, but nothing of a continued or determined effort was again attempted by them. About six o'clock am, we found, after careful reconnoitring, that all the Zulus with the exception of a couple of stragglers had left our immediate vicinity, and soon afterwards a large body of men were seen at a distance marching towards us. I do not think it possible that men could have behaved better than did the 2/24th and the Army Hospital Corps (three), who were particularly forward during the whole attack. It was typical of Surgeon Reynolds' modesty to praise the conduct of the officers and men of the garrison and also his own hospital orderlies, while not mentioning his own efforts. Yet his brave conduct was recognised and he received one of the eleven Victoria Crosses awarded to the defenders of Rorke's Drift. His V.C. citation in the London Gazette of 17 June 1879 read:
For the conspicuous bravery, during the attack at Rorke's Drift on the 22 and 23 January, 1879, which he exhibited in his constant attention to the wounded under fire, and in his voluntarily conveying ammunition from the store to the defenders of the hospital, whereby he exposed himself to a cross-fire from the enemy both in going and returning.
The garrison at Rorke's Drift had lost an astonishingly small number of men. Fifteen had died in the fighting, ten were badly wounded. Two of these men later died of their wounds. Surgeon Reynolds' Zulu patient was killed in the attack on the hospital. In the aftermath of the action Lieutenant Chard counted 351 Zulu dead around the post. These bodies were buried in two mass graves. Yet Zulu bodies continued to turn up for weeks in the hills around Rorke's Drift and along the banks of the Mzinyathi River.
The campaign had not finished for Surgeon Reynolds and he remained on active service. He received special promotion to the rank of surgeon-major for his services at Rorke's Drift and was present at the Battle of Ulundi on the 4th July 1879, witnessing the final defeat of the Zulu army. At the outbreak of the Zulu War there were 39,121 Irishmen serving in the British Army, 21.7% of the total strength. Many thousands were to campaign in South Africa and five, including Surgeon Reynolds, were to win the V.C.
Like the other participants in the action, Surgeon-Major Reynolds was treated as a hero on his return. He received an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin, and the Gold Medal of the British Medical Association for his services in the Zulu War. He was also made a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1879. In the following year, married Ms Elizabeth McCormick. They were to have one son and a daughter. Surgeon-Major Reynolds stayed in the army and was made a Lieutenant-Colonel on 1st April 1887, finally retiring in January 1896. He remained active, however, and was made medical administrator of the Royal Army Clothing Factory in Pimlico. In November 1929 he attended a 50th anniversary dinner to commemorate the Zulu War, held in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords. Lieutenant-Colonel Reynolds was one of the three surviving V.C. winners who attended. He died on the 4th March 1932, aged 88, in Hazelmere, Surrey. His requiem mass at the Church of SS Peter and Edward, Palace Street, Westminster, was attended by a large crowd. Apart from his son and daughter and their families, Sir Charles Morgan, Major-General Alfred Blenkinsop (Colonel-Commandant, RAMC) and Admiral Mawbey were present, among others. The burial took place at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
The medals and personal papers of Surgeon-Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) James Henry Reynolds were, until recently, in the Royal Army Medical Corps Museum at Keogh Barracks in Aldershot. There is portrait of him in the refectory of Castleknock College, Dublin. In the 1964 film Zulu, the Irish actor Patrick Magee took the part of Surgeon Reynolds. In 1997 a project was initiated to restore the headstone of his grave in Kensal Green Cemetery as it had been sadly neglected over the years.
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Subject: Re: Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:19 pm
Reynolds had three sons; George Cormac (3/8/1881-14/1/1916), Percival (9/1/1884-13/11/1916) and Henry Laurence (30/6/1885 George, served as a Private in the 9th Btn Loyal North Lancs. He was accidentally shot and killed on 14th Jan 1916 whilst serving in the trenches. Percival was killed in action whilst serving as a Private in the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, during the first day of the Battle of Ancre Nov 1916. Henry, served as a Private in the Liverpool Regt and subsequently the Army Cyclist Corps, Royal Fusiliers and later the RASC. He survived WW1 but later contracted T.B. and died in 1935 in Liverpool.
Posts : 7077 Join date : 2009-04-24 Age : 53 Location : Down South.
Subject: Re: Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:33 pm
He was accidentally shot and killed on 14th Jan 1916 whilst serving in the trenches
Do you have futher information on this.
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Subject: Re: Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:41 pm
AUDIO Memories of a Zulu War VC 91 year old Cecilia Cheetham recalls her grandfather; Surgeon James Henry Reynolds VC. Interview recorded in 2004 at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.
Also an Excerpt from "Henry Hook - The Hero of Rorke's Drift" broadcast on BBC Radio Gloucestershire in January 1996.
To listen to audio content on the BBC you will need to have a program called RealPlayer installed on your computer.
Subject: Re: Surgeon-Major James Henry Reynolds Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:06 pm
From Battn war diary
"2nd Dec 1915 - In forward trenches the enemy exploded a mine beneath trench 92, about 6.20pm which destroyed most of the trench. Fourteen men listed as missing, 16 wounded and many others treated for shock. - moved back into forward trenches, No. 95 to 102, from rest billet on 10th Jan 1916. In relief of 11th Lancs Fusiliers, 2 Coys in front line & 2 Coys in Support Trench and fortified place known as Seven Trees Redoubt. Trenches to the south occupied by Royal Irish Rifles, to the north by 8th Border Regt. 10th Jan 1916 - 1 wounded in forward trench 14th Jan 1916 - 1 killed by accident, 1 wounded by accident 15th Jan 1916 - 4 wounded, inc 2 slightly wounded who were able to remain on duty." George C. Reynolds buried Row I Grave 6, Le Bizet Cemetery, nr Armentieries (also known as Gunners Farm Cemetery)