Surgeon Major James Henry Reynolds VC


Surgeon Reynolds of the Army Medical Department was attached to the 24th Regiment and posted at Rorke's Drift with B Company 2nd Battalion. He was awarded the VC for his bravery at the defence of the post. The citation stated that on the 22nd Jan 1879 he 'attended the wounded under fire and voluntarily carried ammunition from the store to the defenders of the hospital, exposing himself to cross-fire from the enemy in doing so.'

When gunfire was heard in the distance at 12.30pm he climbed the hill behind the buildings to see what was going on. Bromhead detailed six men to stay in the hospital with the patients, and Surgeon Reynolds. But there was plenty of work for him outside where wounded soldiers needed his attention. The defenders in the hospital were busy holding off the insurgents, and running out of ammunition. Reynolds supplied them with bullets and while doing that had a lucky escape when a hole was shot in his helmet.

James Henry Reynolds was born in Kingstown, County Dublin on 3rd Feb 1844. He was promoted to Surgeon Major the day after the battle and gazetted for the VC on 17th June following questions in the House of Commons as to why he was not included in the original list of Rorke's Drift VCs that were announced on 2nd May. His career prospered and he reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel without seeing any further active service, and retired from the army in Jan 1896. In November 1929 he was one of 3 senior VC holders to attend a VC dinner given by the Prince of Wales in the Royal Gallery at the House of Lords. One of the other VC men was John Williams. Reynolds died in London on 4th March 1932 at the age of 82.


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by Stephen Luscombe