Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Second Lieutenant Wilfred Lawrence Stewart Reavie

 

 

Wilfred Lawrence Stewart Reavie (or Reavy) was born on 2 January 1897 at Jarvis Street, Portadown, County Armagh, son of poulterer John Reavy and his wife Mary (formerly Brown).

Reavie was educated at the Methodist School, Portadown. At the outbreak of war he was working as a clerk in the offices of the Daisy Hill Nurseries, Newry. He enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Portadown on 3 September 1914 (No.1124), overstating his age by two years.

On 1 November 1914 he was appointed unpaid lance corporal. Two weeks later he was deprived of a day's pay and fined 6 day's pay for being absent from noon until watchsetting. He retained his rank however, and on 1 December was promoted to corporal.

Reavie embarked for France on 1 May 1915 with D Squadron of the North Irish Horse. His brushes with authority continued – on 31 May earning a reprimand for disobeying an order and on 6 September another for neglect of duty. Nevertheless, he was made acting sergeant on 24 July and confirmed in that rank the following month.

On 23 October 1916, after a month's course of instruction at the 3rd Army Infantry School,  Reavie applied for a commission in the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. His commanding officer Lord Cole, supporting the application, wrote that "He is well educated, keen and capable of commanding men."

Reavie departed for England in December and on 8 January 1917 reported for duty at the No.3 Officer Cadet Battalion, Bristol. On 26 April 1917 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Soon after he was sent to France and attached to the 2nd Battalion, then part of the 16th (Irish) Division, on the Ypres front.

On 16 August 1917 Reavie's battalion took part in the Battle of Langemarck, part of the Third Ypres offensive. The battalion war diary recorded that from 15 to 17 August it lost 19 officers and men killed, 79 wounded, 13 gassed, and 21 missing.

Reavie was initially reported as missing, but soon after, his death was confirmed. His family received letters from fellow officers with some details of the circumstances, which were later published in the Belfast News-Letter:

Mrs. Reavie, mother of the late Second-Lieut. W L. Reavie, Portadown, has received a letter from Captain L. C. Byrne, Dublin Fusiliers, expressing his sincere sympathy with her in her great loss. "You will have the consolation of knowing," the writer proceeds, "that your son died as I am sure you would have wished him to do, leading his men into action, at Ypres on the morning of the 16th August. We had some very difficult ground to attack and some well-defended strong points to capture. It was whilst capturing one of these that your son was killed instantaneously by a machine-gun. His servant was also killed." Major Richard Bird, S.C.F., writes – "I only knew your boy slightly, but I can assure you that his battalion is loud in their praises of his bravery and worth. He attacked a machine-gun emplacement, and fell shot through the head. Owing to the nature of the battle his body could not be buried, but it will have been by the subsequent battalion, as we were taken away shortly afterwards. Thank God, we have still the precious memory of our loved ones, and the assurance that death is not the end of all."

Two months later Reavie’s father wrote seeking information about his death and his kit:

Dear Sirs With reference to my son 2nd Lieut W.L. Revie, 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, reported missing believed killed on 16th August & later reported killed, I should be glad to know if you have any further particulars about his death or burial. If so will you kindly send me a certificate of his death, & also the name & address of his platoon Sergt. The Captain informs us that the platoon Sergt saw my son killed. The Capt also informed us that he had sent my sons kit home on the 24th Aug, but as yet it has not arrived. Can you trace it for us? as we would like very much to have his belongings. We know of three officers who were killed on the same date as my son & their friends have received their kits fully a month ago. This makes us think it strange that our son’s kit hasn’t arrived home. We will feel greatly obliged if you will kindly give us all the information re my son’s death at your disposal. Yours Respectfully John Revie

As he has no known grave, 2nd Lieutenant Reavie is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Panel 144.

 

Image kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org.