Reginald Fletcher

2nd Lt Reginald Fletcher

Reginald FletcherReginald FletcherReginald was the third son of C. R. L. Fletcher, and younger brother of George. He was born in 1892, came to the Dragon in 1900, and left 1903, solely for reasons of health, to go to Mr. Pellatt’s at Durnford, Langton Matravers, Dorset, for his last preparatory year. He was with us for three years and a term and we are glad and proud to claim him as a Dragon.

He gained a scholarship at Eton in 1905. He entered Balliol in 1910. He was stroke of a Trial Eight at Oxford in three successive years, 1911, ’12, ’13, and for four years stroke of his College boats, both Eights and Fours. He rowed in the University VIII v. Cambridge in March 1914, and in the Leander Four at Henley in 1913. He was 2nd in command of the Artillery section of the Oxford University Officers Training Corps 1913-14. He was a keen Freemason. He got a Second Class in Hon. Mods. 1912, and had begun to read very keenly for Greats when he suddenly discovered that he must become a Gunner. He was gazetted with the first University Commission to the Eighth Brigade Royal Fleet Auxiliary on the day of the declaration of war, sailed for France on the 20th August, got to the front during the battle of the Aisne, served with the 116th Battery till the 21st October, and was serving with the 118th Battery Royal Fleet Auxiliary when he met his death on the 31st October 1914 at Gheluvelt, about six miles east of Ypres. It is perhaps worth noting that Regie was hit by a shell at the actual place and the actual moment (3pm) of the ‘turn of the tide’ in the First Battle of Ypres, and was buried on the field of battle that evening.

Regie was spared all the extremity of horror endured by so many in later months and years of the war; he saw only the glory and the glamour of it. The wild open-air life appealed to him beyond measure; his letters, full of tenderness as they were for those at home, were paeans of triumph on the splendid work of his Batteries, and he died in the full belief that victory was close at hand. On the march up from Cassel to Ypres he found time to give a ride on his gallant ‘Playboy’ (so he named his horse, after Christie Mehon) to a little Belgian girl and her tabby kitten.

The two brothers, utterly unlike in many ways, were yet one in their passionate affection for each other; each thought the other the greatest man he knew. George was essentially typical of the best breed of English-men, and a true child of the Roman Empire; Regie was never so happy as when he was in lands where the Eagles had never been carried, Iceland, Norway, the far west of Scotland or Ireland. He loved to sleep in the open air, and would sleep quite comfortably under several degrees of frost. As in face and colouring, so in his fierce independence of character, he seemed like some old Norse Rover; and it was this same independence that made one of his schoolmasters compare him to Achilles. In truth the oldest Greece was almost as much a source of inspiration to him as were the Sagas; extraordinarily well-read as he was, for a man of twenty-two, in the best modern literature, his highest delight was in Greek poetry; he knew enormous stretches of Homer and Aeschylus by heart, and would chant them, to the amazement of his crew, in the Balliol barge. And the Master of Balliol said of him that, however fiercely he might have been growling at the said crew in the afternoon, there was not a room in the College in which he would not have been the most welcome of all guests an hour or two afterwards.

His Major writes of him:

‘I have lost a very charming and cheery comrade and a very gallant and capable officer. From a military point of view his death is a great loss to the Battery and from a personal point of view it has been a great shock and grief to his brother officers.’

Reginald is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

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