Reginald John Barnes

Date of birth: 11th November 1893
Place of birth: Millbrook, Southampton
Regiment: Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Battalion: 1st
Rank / Service No: Private, 31630
Died: 8th July 1916, aged 22 years
Buried: Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe, France (Plot I, Row F, Grave 34)


Reginald was the youngest of 6 siblings born to Charles and Jane ANN Barnes (nee Dear), who married in Millbrook on 21 February 1882.


The family were living at 108 Paynes Road, Freemantle at the 1911 Census.


Both parents were born in Portsmouth, Charles in 1859 and Ann in 1861. Both passed away in Southampton, Charles in 1924 and Ann in 1937.



Ethel Ellen   b. 1883 Millbrook   d. 1955 Portsmouth

Ernest Owen   b. 26 March 1885 Millbrook   d. 1967 Bishop’s Waltham Married Rosabella Callaway in Southampton in 1915.

William Leonard   b. 24 January 1887 Millbrook   d. 1971 Isle of Wight   Married Lilian Blanche Sheen in Southampton in 1910.

Bertha Louise   b. 1889 Millbrook   d. 1963 Stoke-on-Trent

Beatrice Sophia   b. 22 August 1890 Millbrook   d. 1982 Bournemouth

Reginald John


Reginald had originally attested on 26 August 1914 and spent the first part of the war as part of the Meditteranean Force; he was at Gallipoli from 16 August 1915 until 19 April 1916.


He did not come through that campaign unscathed; he received a shell wound to the scalp on 7 January 1916 and was in Valetta Hospital on 7 February. It must have been a serious wound, because he was invalided home on 12 April 1916.


By 13 June 1916, Reginald had obviously recovered because he was in now in France as part of the B.E.F.


The circumstances behind Reginald’s death are really unfortunate. He died when a live hand-grenade went off very close to him and other colleagues.


A full-blown Court of Enquiry was held in late 1916/ early 1917 to look into the deaths and injuries of Reginald and 5 of his colleagues.


It appears that a Corporal Gamsby had 8 or 9 men form “A” and “B” companies on the parade ground at Heilly, with the intention of training them in how to handle Mills Grenades.


As a Lieutenant Bluck arrived with further trainees from “C” and “D” companies, there was a loud explosion.

After calling for stretcher bearers, the Sergeant enquired of the uninjured men exactly what had happened.


A detonator had been placed in a “bomb”, the pin had been removed and the pressure taken off the lever, thus allowing the device to ignite.

Corporal Gamsby, who was one of those killed, knew what had happened and attempted to throw the device away.


It is not known what conclusion the Court of Enquiry reached, but it was a terrible way for Reginald to die.


His headstone reads: “ I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course.”


Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 7th December 2016


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