Reginald John Favell

Reginald John Favell – Corporal I0/7 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment, the son of John and Mary Elizabeth Favell of 17, Cunningham Park, Harrow, Middlesex, died on Thursday, 2nd August 1917 at the age of 27 years. ‘Soldiers died’ gives his place of birth as Harrow in Middlesex and his place of Enlistment as Marylebone. It also states that he previously served with the Wiltshire Regiment under Service Number 13462.

His name is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres in Belgium, that bears the names of the men who were lost without trace during the defence of the Ypres salient. Reginald is also commemorated on the local war memorial at Pinner in North London and also in Holy Trinity Church, Wealdstone Drive, Wealdstone, where his names appears on a window brass.

R J Favell panel
Pinner Memorial
Pinner Memorial

The 2nd Battalion of “The Prince of Wales’s Leinster regiment (Royal Canadians)” was a regular army unit, stationed in Cork at the outbreak of the war when it was allocated to 17th Brigade, 6th Division. By August they has transferred to Cambridge and then moved on to Newmarket before landing at St Nazaire on 12th September 1914 closely following the original BEF arrivals. Just over a year later on the 14th August 1915 the Battalion was transferred to become part of the 17th Brigade of the 24th Division at Reninghelst and to the 73rd Brigade 24th Division on the 19th October 1915.

On the 31st July 1917 the 24th Division was launched into the British attack at the battle which became officially known as the 3rd Ypres, but is universally referred to as ‘Passchendaele’. The attack was made behind a massive, creeping artillery barrage and the enemy outpost lines were swiftly overrun, allowing an advance of nearly a mile before resistance began to harden and the depth of the enemy defences, including pillboxes and strong points was fully discovered. Around 10 infantry divisions were involved in the attack, with the 24th division providing three Brigades, including the 73rd. The attack began at 3.50am, with the 73rd Brigade first moving through Shrewsbury Forest where they were held-up by fighting before reaching Jehovah trench. They continued the advance taking Groenenburg farm and capturing the flooded Jordan Trench.

Here they were stopped by pill boxes at Lower Star Post. The enemy held out all day, preventing any further advance, so the 73rd Brigade fell back slightly and dug in just ahead of Jordan Trench. Here they stayed until counter attacked on the 5th August. Reginald is reported as having died on the 2nd August, so it is likely that this is the position he met his death.

Possibly he suffered wounds during the advance and could not be evacuated to safety for treatment, or he was killed in the sporadic shelling or sniping that would have gone on relentlessly.  As the Brigade dug in after their initial advance the rain came and turned the battlefield into an ever-increasing quagmire.  Reginald’s body was never recovered, or at least never identified, hence his commemoration only, on the Menin Gate Memorial.  Like thousands of others, he could have simply disappeared into the mud.

Inside the Menin Gate
Inside the Menin Gate
John Favell Drapers Shop

Reginald’s Father John Favell owned a Drapers Shop in Harrow.  I presume John is one of the two men in this photo, possibly the one nearest he front.  Just maybe, the young boy standing with him is his son Reginald.