241924 Pte Sam REYNOLDS 1/4th Hallamshire Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment.
Killed In Action 12th April 1918.
Sam was born at Ecclesfield, Yorkshire around 1896. Little information has survived but from the 1901 census he can be seen to be living at Woodland, Burncross, Chapeltown, Sheffield.
At this time he is 5 years old and has 2 older brothers James and Joseph. His parents are Joseph and Hannah.
The 1911 census shows him still living in the Burncross/Chapeltown area employed as a milk boy.
Sam enlisted at Penistone and was inducted into the ranks of the 1/4th Hallamshire battalion of the York and Lancaster regiment. He qualified as a signaller.
There are no surviving service papers for Sam but his medals have survived.
Sam was killed in action on the 12th April 1918 during heavy fighting in the area of Neuve Eglise. The enemy had broken through the British lines and the 1/4th York and Lancaster’s along with other battalions were to restore the situation. On the 12th April the enemy again attacked in strength after a heavy artillery bombardment forcing the British to retire again. It was during this fighting that Sam was reported missing and subsequently confirmed killed.
The unit history tells us this:-
At 6am on the 10th april the move to the somme was cancelled and by 9.am they were rushed on to lorries for neuve eglise.Reaching neuve eglise by 1pm they were in a field on north west corner of the town awaiting orders.
On the 11th april alarmed by reports a large patrol sent out to east of the village,no sign of British or German troops.later in the morning reports germans had broke through between “plugstreet”wood and neuve eglise.The 1/4 immediately left the village and headed east,reaching the hamlet of L’Alouette with no sign of enemy still,only meadows and ploughed fields divided by ditches.
From this hamlet the 1/4 left 3pm and proceeded in formation before been shot at by rifle and machine gun fire from some farm buildings,the 1/4 charged these and the germans retreated.The 1/4 remained in these buildings before been ordered to withdraw 2000 yards north to ,,”keep away” farm,they dug in near here in open fields during the night.
On the 12th they shot down the aeroplane which crashed only yards behind there lines,they found the observer to be still alive and pulled him from the wreckage(he died later at first aid post)the pilot died instantly.
During the 12th “we saw numbers of small groups of enemy and enjoyed good shooting”
Enemy opened up a large bombardment on the 1/4 left and soon british troops could be seen retiring,this bombardment spread to 1/4 right on to the 4th koyli,who were now rushed by German troops and who soon we’re attacking the 1/4s right flank,at the same time a heavy attack on c company of 1/4 on the left.
The enemy had vastly superior numbers and both flanks were turned which prompted a withdrawal,slow but fighting all the way,it was fought in close quarters with rifle,bayonet and bomb.
“Many of our men were shooting too high but great execution must have been done against the germans”.
By midnight 1/4 were right back to eastern edge of neuve eglise,wulverghem rd.
It really shows the desperate situation that Sam and his comrades were in.On this day the battalion suffered 3 officers killed, 3 officers wounded, 3 other ranks killed, 76 wounded and 72 missing.
Interestingly the battalion war diary for that day begins with a report of an enemy plane being shot down by rifle and machine gun fire.
During my research on Sam I was fortunate to make contact with his great nephew, a Mr Shane REYNOLDS. I spoke with Shane and it was clear to me that he was passionate about his family history so I am pleased to report that we met at the Chapeltown war memorial on 1st February 2014 where the medals were restored back to the family.
Sam is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial
Sam is also remembered at Wortley Church Lynch Gate.
Sam had two older brothers, James Arthur born in 1883 and Joseph William born in 1885, both also born at Burncross.
Joseph would also serve for his country in the great war.
13837 Cpl Joseph REYNOLDS 7th Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
In the 1891 census Joseph is found to be living on Burncross Rd, Chapeltown, along with his parents Joseph and Hannah Elizabeth and his older brother James, his father works as a shunter at Thorncliffe Colliery.
By 1901 the family have now moved to Burncross, Joseph now aged 15 and employed as a painter.
In July 1909 Joseph aged 23,a painter by trade marries Dora Everitt aged 19 of Brackenhill,Dora is already with child.
In November 1909 Elsie Reynolds is born at Smith Street, Chapeltown.
On the 1911 census Joseph, Dora and daughter Elsie living at 15 Smith Street, Chapeltown. Joseph a railway wagon painter at Thorncliffe Colliery.
Tragedy would strike the family in 1912 when they have a second child, a boy named Harry, who dies within six months.
A second son named Walter is born in April 1913, the family have moved along the road to 61 Smith Street.
The family now move to 19 New Street, Catcliffe, Nr Rotherham, it seems they move in with one of Doras sisters and her family.
The next record of Joseph is when he joins the army, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on September 2nd 1914 at Birdwell near Barnsley aged 29 years 11 months, he is 5,8″ and in good health, a wagon painter by trade.
He is posted to the 7th KOYLI Service Battalion and is up in Pontefract by the 12th of September, to commence his training. In December 1914 he twists and injures his knee playing football at Woking, this injury would come back to haunt him throughout his service.
On the 22nd July 1915 Joseph and his division arrive in France, they find themselves receiving training for trench warfare,and are finally allowed to go into the frontline on the 20th August. They are kept in a very quiet sectors till early January 1916 when they entrain for Ypres.
On the 21st January Joseph is appointed unpaid lance corporal just before the 7th KOYLI enter the frontline trenches, this is known has a hotspot in the British held lines, under constant enemy fire.
However Joseph does not endure the horror for long. On the 26th February his damaged knee gives way whilst in the trenches. He is shipped back to Blighty and found to have fractured his ligaments. Joseph’s overseas service ends prematurely.
Joseph now joins the ranks of the 11th reserves KOYLI at Cannock Chase, these become a training battalion for young soldiers.
Joseph is appointed paid lance corporal on the 13th September 1916 and continues his service in the UK.
On the 25th September 1917 Joseph’s knee is injured again playing football, his hospital report says this final injury puts him on light duty for the remainder of the war.
On the 13th December 1918 Joseph appointed on pay as corporal.
Although Joseph had a lucky escape in many ways due to his knee injury he would not escape the tragedies that were about to inflict his personal life.
On the 28th november 1918 his wife Dora aged only 28 died at Catcliffe from the Spanish flu epidemic.
His brother Sam then confirmed as killed in action at Neuve Eglise.
On the 12th August 1919 his nine year old daughter Elsie falls in the river Rother at Catcliffe and drowns, her body is not found till the 16th august. Joseph moves back to Chapeltown and leaves his remaining child, Walter, at Catcliffe to be raised by his aunt and uncle.
Along with Joseph’s mother passing away in 1914 and his father in 1921 Joseph had lost everyone.
Joseph died on the 11th December 1949 at the city hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield aged 64.
I dedicate this page to Shane REYNOLDS and the memory of Sam and Joseph.