Captain, 1/7th Battalion Manchester Regiment.
Killed in action Friday 29th May 1915, age 23.
Buried in Redoubt Cemetery, Helles, Turkey.
Former student of Law.
Reginald, the eldest son of Richard Walter and Mary Elizabeth Rylands, was born on 5th November 1891 at Eccles. He was educated at All Saint’s School, Bloxham and Shrewsbury School (1906-08). He matriculated at the age of 16 and took the Bachelor of Law (L.L.B.) at the University of Manchester in June 1912. He joined the Law Students’ Society in 1909 and frequently took part in speaking competitions and mock trials at meetings. He was elected as an honorary secretary of the society in October 1912 and to the committee in October 1913.
He served his articles with his father’s firm Boote, Edgar, Grace and Rylands passing his intermediate examinations in October 1912 and his final ones in June 1914.
Reginald joined the 7th Manchester Regiment (Territorial Force) in 1910 having spent three years in the cadet corps in Shrewsbury. When war broke out he was a keen and enthusiastic lieutenant. Shortly before leaving for Egypt he obtained a captaincy. For four months he commanded the unit guarding an important railway at Atbara, which was considered a position of great responsibility for a young officer. He was transferred to Khartoum in February 1915, and then moved to Suez before going to the Dardanelles in May 1915 where he was killed during a nighttime operation.
According to the reports by several officers who were in the same action the battalion was ordered to dig new trenches 200 yards away from the enemy which were to be used to launch an attack. Reginald was in charge of half of the company on the left of the line and they went out at 11 o’clock on the night of 28th May. A full moon meant that this was a particularly treacherous task as they had to advance approximately 150 yards in the open to reach the place they were to dig. Reginald was slightly hit during the advance, but was undettered from leading his men. He, along with eight others, was trying to establish a connection with the battalion to the left, but enemy fire cut them off from their main unit. Captain Fawcus, the battalion adjutant, recorded that he kept receiving messages from Reginald up until 2.00 pm on the 29th before hearing that he had been seriously wounded. Reginald had been hit in the shoulder and was tended by a sergeant who gave him water, but to no avail as he passed away within five minutes. Attempts to bury Reginald were made, but another man was killed in the process. After three days his body was retrieved, buried just behind the British line and marked with a cross made from a trench periscope which had been broken by sniper fire.
Effects worth £1261 12s. 11d. were left to Reginald’s father.
On 2nd January 1916 a memorial window to Reginald was unveiled at the Church of Holy Rood in Swinton, Manchester. Family members, a contingent of 200 men from Reginald’s battalion and the band of the Royal Engineers were in attendance. Crowds of people were unable to get into the church. The band accompanied the singing of hymns and letters testifying to the worth of Reginald were read out.
Reginald’s brother, Harold Bertram Rylands, also a University of Manchester student, saw service with the Lancashire Fusiliers, and died in November 1916.
In December 1923 Reginald’s father endowed scholarships in law to be awarded by Manchester Law Society tenable at the University of Manchester in memory of his sons. Clerks from solicitors offices within a 20 mile radius of the Mancehster Royal Exchange who got a first-class certificate in their intermediate examinations were eligible for the funds which would help to pay their fees.