Charles Reynolds

Co. 44

Charles reynolds


Birth and Early Life

  • Charles was born in Tooman, Dromod, Co. Leitrim to Patrick and Helen Reynolds on the 6th July 1875, according to official records.

This is a picture of Charles Reynolds' Birth and Baptism records. 

Charles had 11 siblings, two sisters died as babies, and another sister died age 19. He emigrated to Australia some time before 1901, as he is not present on the 1901 census of the family home. His brother Thomas also emigrated to Australia, however I do not know if he did so at the same time, but he is also missing from the 1901 census. Unfortunately there were no immigration records available online.

In 1911 Charles was living in Carcoar, New South Wales, according to census records. Thomas became a sheep farmer in Australia. When he died he left what money he had to his family back in Ireland. Charles was a miner. By his enlistment on 13th March 1916 he was living in Cloncurry, Queensland. He may have worked in the local Hampden Cloncurry Limited mines, mining for copper.

A map of Australia showing Cloncurry

Charles’ brother Patrick emigrated first to South Africa, and then to New Zealand. He married in New Zealand, and has descendants there. He is buried in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. 

This is a prayer book that Charles' mother Helen received in 1866 before her marriage. She wrote the names of all her twelve children and their dates of birth inside the book

The book is addressed to her from a Brother Jerome.

Charles’ childhood home in the mid-1950s, before it was demolished. In Charles’ time it had a thatched roof.

This is a copy of a 1911 Australian census of the area of Carcoar.

Charles' name is present here, although the quality of the online documents makes it difficult to read.

Many of Charles’ relatives are buried together in one plot in Farnaght Cemetery, Co. Leitrim. The headstone below on the left was erected by a Thomas F. Reynolds, presumably the brother who also emigrated to Australia. The family believe he sent home money which may have paid for the headstone. 

This is a family tree I made of the Reynolds family. It includes some but not all of the spouses and children of Charles’ siblings. At the bottom are the relatives I met. 


  • Charles enlisted on 13th March 1916 at Charters Towers Queensland.
  • He was described as 5 foot 10 ½ inches, 161 lbs, with fair skin, blue eyes and light brown hair.
  • Charles was 41 when he enlisted, but claimed to be 38 years and 7 months. He possibly did so as the age limit for the army until June 1915 was 40 in Australia. He may not have known about the rule change.
  • Charles wrote his father’s name as next-of-kin, however by the 1911 census Patrick Reynolds was already dead. From this I assume that Charles had lost contact with his family. The military corrected this to his mother’s name after Charles’ death.
  • As a miner, Charles would have been a great asset to the army, as many trenches had to be dug in World War One. 

This is Charles' enlistment document, containing information about his physical appearance and life.

The War and the 47th Battalion

Charles was in the 47th Battalion, 12th Brigade, 4th Division, Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The 47th was composed mostly of men recruited in Queensland and Tasmania along with experienced troops. About half of its new recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 15th Battalion.

The new battalion was incorporated into the 12th Brigade of the Australian Division. The 47th Battalion was created in Egypt before being shipped to France, in June 1916. The Battalion was involved in many battles, including the Battle of Pozières, the Battles of Bullecourt, Messines and Passchendaele.

Charles’ unit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A42 Boorara on 16 August 1916. The Battalion was disbanded in May 1918 due to heavy casualties and a lack of reinforcements from Australia. During its service in the war, 661 soldiers from the battalion died and 1,564 were wounded. 

This photograph was taken between December 1918 and March 1919 of the surviving members of the 47th Battalion AIF in Hastiere, Belgium. Only 73 men remained. The picture was taken on the rear entrance steps of the former "Hôtel des Tilleuls”.

Charles' Death

I died in hell— (They called it Passchendaele).

Siegried Sassoon

During most of the early parts of the Third Battle of Ypres, the 47th Battalion were in reserve. However, they took part in a combined British, Australian and New Zealand force, with the First Battle of Passchendaele. 

A map of Belgium showing Passchendaele during the Third Battle of Ypres.

During the nights of 10th and 11th October 1917, the Battalion made its way to their start line, along the Ypres-Roulers railway embankment. The men were wet, cold and tired. Their only cover was in water filled shell holes. In the dark and through heavy rain, the Battalion moved off at 5.38am on Friday, 12th October, towards the enemy lines. Almost immediately, the Battalion HQ was hit by shelling, killing 27 and wounding 60. 

The Ypres-Roulers railway embankment on the afternoon of the attack on the 12th of October

Wounded Australian infantrymen at the first battle of Passchendaele, near Zonnebeke railway station 

Despite this, the Battalion advanced nearly 500 metres, before being held up by heavy enemy machine gun and sniper fire. The 12th Brigade, including the 47th Battalion, reached their objective. Unfortunately, other Australian units on their left flank had not made the same progress and by mid afternoon, the 47th Battalion was in an extremely exposed position.

By late afternoon, most other units had withdrawn to their starting lines and the Battalion had to abandon their position and also withdraw, along the railway line. Enemy fire at that stage hindered the recovery of wounded men and many had to be left behind, where they had fallen. By the end of the day, over 100 men of the Battalion had been killed, with a further 300 wounded.

The death toll rose later, with the deaths of many of those who had been reported as wounded and missing. The total British Commonwealth casualties for the day amounted to almost 13,000. 

Charles Reynolds was one of thousands who died that day. He was killed on the 12th of October 1917, in the First Battle of Passchendaele.

He was originally reported as wounded in action, then wounded and missing, and finally killed in action. Charles’ body was identified by his disc which he wore around his neck. 

Charles’ family were contacted, and at this point his next-of-kin was changed to his mother. This is the document for his alteration of change of next-of-kin.

Charles is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery (XXXVIII. A. 10), Passchendaele, Belgium. The inscription on his grave, as requested by his mother, reads ‘O most compassionate Lord Jesus grant him eternal rest’  

Charles’ memorial plaque, also known as the death penny, given to his mother after his death. 

This is a postcard of Charles' original grave, sent to his family after his burial.

This is a picture I took of his grave during my visit.

These are examples of Charles' medals, which were given to his mother but unfortunately lost over the years. From left to right: the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal, and the British War Medal.

Private Hubert Reynolds

Hubert was Charles’ younger brother, who also served in WW1, with the British army. He enlisted at the age of 32 on 19th February 1915 in Longford, and served with the Leinster Regiment.

He was in France from July 1915 to November 1915. From then until after the end of the war he was in Greece. It was there that he was stationed at a prisoner of war camp for Turkish soldiers, at Salonika.

Men of the 1st Royal Irish Regiment marching along the Seres Road into the Struma Valley, June 1916 during the Salonika Campaign

His service records seem to indicate that he spent at least 2 seperate periods in hospital, from 20th January to 13th February 1916 and from 23rd March to 1st May 1917. The reason may have been illness, rather than injury, and for that reason he was posted to the labour corps, rather than front line service. Hubert survived the war, and died in 1950. He was buried in Farnaght Cemetery alongside several of his relatives, including his parents. He never married or had children. Charles and Hubert do not appear to have been aware that the other was also fighting in the war. 

Hubert with his nieces and nephews, years after the war had ended.

The Reynolds Family

On the 26th of March 2017, I met with two of Charles’ grandnieces, Maeve and Deirdre and Deirdre’s husband Gerry. 

This is the grave where many of Charles' relatives are buried. The graveyard is very close to where Charles grew up.

This is a picture of Gerry and I at the family house. The house Charles grew up in was demolished in the 1950s, and a new one built. That house still stands.

About Me

My name is Maria Henehan and I am sixteen years old. I live in Sligo and go to the Ursuline College, where I am currently in Fifth Year. I found out about the project from my history teacher, Ms. Timoney, and decided to apply as I have a great interest in stories about World War One, especially as a relative of mine fought in the war and survived. I was very excited to hear that I had been chosen to take part. Doing this project and visiting the graves in Belgium was an amazing experience I will never forget, and has certainly given me a better idea of the lives and tragic deaths of soldiers from Ireland at the time.

My Research

When I attended the very first meeting, after being introduced to the other students, I was given a name, address and a number: C. Reynolds, Tooman, Dromod, Co. Leitrim 2235. I did not even know his first name.

I found it hard to get information at first, as I could find no record of a C. Reynolds in the British army. I soon discovered however that my soldier had enlisted in Australia, where he was living at the time. This was a very interesting discovery for me. I discovered his name was Charles, and got in contact with relatives after months of searching.

Charles relatives, grandnieces and a grandnephew in law, were a great help to me. They had artefacts and photographs from the time period, and knowledge of the family that proved invaluable.

This is a picture of Gerry Matthews, Charles Reynolds' grand nephew in-law, and I at the graves of Charles' parents and some siblings in Bornacoola, Leitrim.

Michael Reynolds, a relative of Charles, at Charles' grave. He visited the grave a few years ago.

Seeing My Soldier's Grave

Seeing the grave of my soldier was an incredible experience. It was very emotional for me, after spending months researching him and learning all about his life and family, to finally stand at the place where his body was put to rest. I only had a few moments at Charles Reynolds' grave, but I will never forget how it felt to see his grave for the first time.

Charles Reynolds' Grave

This is a picture of me at Charles' grave for the first time, and a picture of his grave. The inscription, as requested by his mother, reads: 'O most compassionate Lord Jesus grant him eternal rest'.

The trip


We arrived at Dublin Airport on Tuesday evening, eager to get to our destination of Leuven in Belgium. Our flight arrived late that night and we all went to bed straight away, exhausted after a day of travelling.


We stayed at the Irish College, and had a walking tour of the town the next day. The German students arrived at about one o'clock on Wednesday, and we waited in the garden to greet them. We spent the day doing icebreakers and having a scavenger hunt to get to know each other better.

That evening two Irish students and two German made presentations on their soldiers.

A building in Leuven

The town hall, built in the 15th century


On Thursday morning we had an hour-long bus ride to the EU Parliament. There we met Marian Harkin, and Gesine Meissner, the Irish and German MEPs  who have helped out the project with funding.

One Irish student and one German student made presentations at the Parliament. Then we made our way to our next destination, the Island of Ireland Peace Park. We spent a few minutes at the Peace Park remembering all of the Irish soldiers who died in the First World War.

Our next stop was the Messines Military Cemetery. Here we visited the graves of Zoe and Ruari's soldiers.

Then we came to the Pool of Peace. The Pool Of Peace is a man-made pool that as created when a massive mine explosion under German trenches was carried out.

Monuments to different Irish divisions at the Island of Ireland Peace Park

The Pool of Peace

Wytschaete Cemetery was our next stop. Here Mary visited the grave of her soldier and told us a little about his life.

We soon came to Bayernwald, where we visited restored German trenches that gave us an idea of how terrible and cramped life was for the German soldiers in the trenches.

Our last stop that day was to a Death Cells & Execution Spot in Poperinge. This was where the British army would execute deserters or 'cowards'. The condemned soldiers would be tied to a pole and shot at dawn by their own comrades. Joshua told us the story of his soldier, an autistic young man who ran away and was accused of cowardice.

Wytschaete Cemetery

German trench at Bayerwald

Execution pole in Poperinge


On Friday our first stop was to Poperinge Cemetery where Joshua, Shania and Rosie visited the graves of their soldiers.

After this we came to Vladslo Cemetery, a German graveyard. Here Nelson and Shakeé told us the story of Käthe and Peter Kollwitz, a mother and son. Peter was a young German man who was killed in the war. His mother spent many years of her life creating two statues known as the Grieving Parents. We all laid white roses at the foot of the statues and spent a few moments in silence to remember the German dead.

Our next stop was Poelcapelle Cemetery. Shane and Conor visited their soldiers' graves, and we visited the grave of John Condon, who is believed to have been the youngest Allied soldier to die in the First World War at the age of fourteen. Ciara and David Dunlop performed some music and Jessica sang the song John Condon.

Poperinge Cemetery

On of the two statues of the Grieving Parents at Vladslo Cemetery

Langemarck German Cemetery came next, where we saw the graves of German soldiers and Lisa, Laetitia and Florentine spoke about their soldiers.

After a quick stop for lunch, we visited Tyne Cot Cemetery. Here, my soldier and Aoife's were buried and Jessica, Luke, Sarah and Sophie's soldiers had a place on the memorial wall. Tyne Cot is the largest of all the cemeteries we visited, with 11,954 soldiers buried there. It was an amazing experience to finally visit Charles Reynolds' grave, and see for myself his final resting place.

Next, we came to the town of Ypres, where we visited a museum dedicated to the first world war. Ciara found her relative's name on the Menin Gate, and rested a wreath in honour of the dead along with a German student.

Mass gravestones at Langemarck German Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery

The Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres


On Saturday we said goodbye to the German students and headed to Amsterdam, where we caught a flight back to Dublin. Here, the Irish students said goodbye and went our separate ways.

The trip was an amazing experience that I will never forget and I would like to thank all involved for all of the preparation and funding that went into it!