7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers attached to and Commanding 1st Royal Irish Rifles, 31 July 1917
Synopsis of Life and Military Service
Alexander Daniel Reid was born on 2nd February 1882 at Edinburgh, he was the eldest son to Captain William Thomas Reid and Margaret Reid. His mother and father are shown as residing at 5 West Cromwell Road, Kensington in the 1891 Census where he was also residing along with his sister and brothers. His father died on 1st August 1899 when Alexander was 17 years old and it is possible that the family were residing at Ardmeallie House, Marnoch, Banffshire on occasion as noted on the family headstone there. In the 1901 Census his mother and sister Rachael are shown as still residing at the Kensington address along with three servants.
Very little is known about his military service as his Military Record was destroyed, but it is known that he attended Westminster College and later, following training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, on the 28th July 1900 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with a view to appointment into the Indian Army, where he was later to serve. He was also to attend Harper Adams, Agricultural College for one term from 5 February 1907 to 28 March 1907, his intention was to farm in either the United Kingdom or in India.
On 26 April 1909, Alexander retired from his unit in the Indian Army as a Lieutenant. It was around this time that he emigrated to Canada, more than likely along with his mother and other family members. His mothers address was recorded as Cowichan, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
In 1915, he rejoined the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as a Major.
In 1916, he was to transfer to France where he was Mentioned in Dispatches on 22 May 1917 and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order on 4 June 1917. He was to take command of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles on the 8th July 1917 as a Lieutenant-Colonel on attachment. On 20 September 1917, when the Battalion was involved in a large scale attack at Westhoek Ridge, Alexander was killed in action along with over 30 others in the Battalion.
He is honoured at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium as either his body was never found or not identified.
His mother Margaret requested that his D.S.O. award was sent to his brother Lieutenant Henry Francis Reid also of the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. His mother is also shown as being the recipient of his pension and money due as specified in his Pension Card and The Register of Soldiers Effects.
War Diary of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles – 31st July 1917
The following is an extract from the War Diary of the 1st Royal Irish Rifles – It is mostly readable and I have transcribed what I can read, the rest I have had to add question marks.
The War Diary of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles for the 31st July 1917 shows a relatively quiet day while in the Front Line. It’s recorded as follows:-
6.50am – The Battalion moved from Halfway House in artillery formation to the WESTHOEK RIDGE passing over the original front line which had been taken y the 23rd and 24th Brigades at ZERO (3.50am). Little shell fire was met with until the Battalion arrived actually ?????. On arrival at the WESTHOEK RIDGE (which was ??? at about 8.30 am). This situation was not quite what was expected. owing to the Division on the right being unable to take the BLACK LINE (the high ground near POLYGON WOOD). At Zero plus 6 hours 20 minutes the Battalion advanced in perfect order to close up with the barrage. On leaving the BLACK LINE, the left Company was met with heavy fire from the front and right flank, the Company Commander therefore ordered ? ? ? ? ? cost many casualties, he therefore decided to withdraw to the original line and consolidate. This he did and got in touch with the 2nd Rifle Brigade on his left. The Right Company made an attempt to advance but owing to the Division on the right being held up, this was found impossible. The line was therefore consolidated and personal ??? were driven off. The centre Company pushed forward to the Hannebeke ?, but finding that the enemy was making around the right flank of the Company. The Officer Commanding the Company ordered the Company to withdraw until each flank was safe and in touch with Companies on his right and left. At about 3pm the enemy ??? attacked the centre Company and breached the main?? held by our men. A ??? counterattack was immediately launched and the enemy was driven out leaving many dead. A machine gun was captured in this ???. No ground was lost during the operation and the Battalion was relieved at 11pm by the 2 West York Regiment and ?? ?? within old German front line. The Battalion went into the attack with 20 officers and about 620 O.R.. The following were the casualties.
- Lieutenant-Colonel Reid D.S.O.
- 2nd Lt. V.C. Byrne – 3 R.I. Rif.
- 2nd Lt. R.K. Pollin – 4 R.I. Rif.
- 2nd Lt J Furness – 4 R.I. Rif.
- 2nd Lt. H Brown – 6 R.I. Rif.
- 2nd Lt. P Doherty – 1 R.I. Rif. (died of wounds)
Other Ranks – 30 Killed, 145 Wounded and 18 Missing.
Alexander Daniel Reid was born on 2nd February 1882 at Edinburgh. The following family information is taken from the 1891 Census and memorial stones.
It is shown as follows :-
- Father: William Thomas Reid, born 17 March 1859 at North Banffshire. (d.1/8/1899)
- Mother: Margaret Reid, born c.1858 at Edinburgh.
- Sister: Rachael D., born c.1881 at Edinburgh.
- Brother: William S., born c.1884 at Edinburgh.
- Brother: Henry Francis., born c.1887 at Scotland. (d.26/11/1970 in South Africa)
- Brother: Stewart, born c.1883. (d.15/11/1938)
The family were certainly well off as in the 1891 Census their residence is shown as having a Governess and four servants.
In Scotlands National Probate Register it reads as follows – Alexander Daniel Reid, Lieutenant-Colonel, sometime of Edinburgh, then of Banffshire and London, thereafter of H.M. Indian Army, late of Cowichan Station, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, was killed in action, 31 July 1917 in France testate granted at Edinburgh 6 July 1918 to Margaret Greig or Reid, Cowichan Station widowed mother, Will dated 22 August 1900. Value £209
The following addresses have been ascertained for Alexander Reid :-
- 1891 – 5 West Cromwell Road, Kensington, London.
- Date Unknown – Ardmeallie House, Marnoch, Banffshire.
- 1915 – Cowichan Station, British Columbia, Canada
Alexander Daniel Reid was awarded the Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order and The Silver Medal of Italy.
Other than the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, I have been unable to trace a specific War Memorial for him.
Links to Additional Information
- Find a Grave website – Alexander Daniel Reid – Marnoch Cemetery.
- Find a Grave website – Alexander Daniel Reid – Ypres Memorial.
- A Street Near You website – Alexander Daniel Reid.
- Lives of the First World War – Alexander Daniel Reid.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Alexander Daniel Reid.
- Canmore Website – Ardmeallie House, Marnoch, Banffshire.
- Imperial War Museum Memorials – Alexander Daniel Reid, Marnoch Banffshire.
- Medal Index Card.
- Register of Soldiers Effects.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- Find a Grave.
- 1891 Census.
- Medal Roll – Royal Highlanders – British War Medal and Victory Medal.
- Pension Card.
- Soldiers Died in the Great War.
- London Gazette dated 27 July 1900, page 4656.
- London Gazette dated 14 May 1909.
- London Gazette dated 16 January 1903.
- London Gazette dated 4 June 1917 page 5473.
- London Gazette dated 26 May 1917 page 5201.
- Vincent Stuart.