War hero from Northamptonshire who single-handedly defeated 11 enemy soldiers at once is honoured

Captain Henry Reynolds
Captain Henry Reynolds

A man from Northamptonshire who killed three heavily-fortified soldiers and captured seven more is to be honoured by his former regimental club.

Captain Henry Reynolds was a soldier with the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, attached to The Royal Scots, in September 1917 when he led an attack on enemy positions near Frezenberg, Belgium.

His superior officers already out of action, he led his company against machine guns and a pill-box. Suffering heavy casualties, Harry decided to take on the emplacements alone.

After attacking the pill-box with grenades, he killed three enemy soldiers and several more surrendered.

Henry was later awarded the Victoria Cross and is now to be honoured by the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh as part of its 100th anniversary. He and seven others will have commemorative stones placed outside the club in Abercromby Place.

Major General Mark Strudwick CBE, chairman of trustees of the club said: "It is most apt that The Royal Scots Club, as part of its Centenary commemorations, is recognising those Royal Scots who were awarded Victoria Crosses.

"Their individual acts of heroism in trying circumstances lead to these gallant awards”.

Henry's Victoria Cross citation shows what an amazing feat he achieved.

It reads: "Captain Reynolds reorganised his men, who were scattered, and then proceeded alone by rushes from shell-hole to shell-hole, all the time being under heavy machine-gun fire.

"When near the ‘pill-box’ he threw a grenade, intending that it should go inside, but the enemy had blocked the entrance. He then crawled to the entrance and forced a phosphorous grenade inside.

"This set the place on fire and caused the death of three of the enemy, while the remaining seven or eight surrendered with two machine-guns."

Afterwards,although wounded, he continued to lead his company against another objective and captured it, taking 70 prisoners and two more machine-guns.

The citation continues: "During the whole attack the company was under heavy machine-gun fire from the flanks, but despite this Captain Reynolds kept complete control of his men."

Henry Reynolds (1879-1948) was born at Whilton Wharf, near Daventry, on 16th August 1879.

Henry was educated at Daventry Grammar School and was then employed in the family corn and coal merchant business, which included a coal wharf at Long Buckby.

Before the taking on the pill-box, he had already been awarded the Military Cross on 12th April 1917 for his actions in the attack on Greenland Hill near the chemical works at Roeux. He reorganised his company when all officers were casualties and led it into the attack "with great courage and coolness."

Two months after the heroism that won him the Victoria Cross, he was wounded, and evacuated to Britain

The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 1st June 1918.

He was later granted the Freedom of both Edinburgh and Northampton. He died at Carshalton, Surrey on 26th March 1948 and was buried in St Giles’ Churchyard, Ashtead, Surrey.

His Victoria Cross is held by the Royal Scots Museum, Edinburgh Castle.