Reginald Arthur Jarrold was born in Suffolk, came to Chelmsford as a young boy and then worked as a bookseller’s assistant and later for Crompton’s electrical engineers. He enlisted in the army in 1917, served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine. He was killed at the Third Battle of Gaza in November 1917. His bravery there led him to being mentioned in dispatches. His home was in Victoria Road.
Reginald was born in Sudbury, Suffolk in 1896 (when his forenames were recorded as ‘Arthur Reginald’), the son of Arthur Jarrold and Annie Constance Jarrold (nee Brown). His father had been born in 1871 in Tattingstone, Suffolk; his mother c1876 in Hadleigh, Suffolk. The couple had married in 1894 in Suffolk.
Reginald’s siblings included Violet Irene Ransome Jarrold (born in 1895 East Bergholt, Suffolk, died 1990), Ivy Isabella Jarrold (born in 1898 at Colne Engaine, died 1937), Jessie Branford Jarrold (born in 1900 at Gestingthorpe, died 1995), Ellen Branford Jarrold (born in 1902 in Chelmsford), Geoffrey Jarrold (born in 1909 in Chelmsford), and Nora Jarrold (born in 1913, probably at Chelmsford). Three of Reginald’s siblings died in childhood - they included Frederick Charles Jarrold (born and died in 1906) and Catherine Annie Jarrold (born and died in 1908).
The 1901 census recorded four Reginald living with his parents and three sisters at 2 Regina Road in Chelmsford. His father was a foreman in a coal yard. The family had probably arrived in Chelmsford within the previous two years.
A decade later the 1911 census found 17 year-old Reginald lodging with retired school-mistress Maria Stackwood, and her servant at Westwood, 27 Park Road in Chelmsford. Reginald was a bookseller’s assistant. At the time his parents and five siblings were at 3 Victoria Square, off Victoria Road in Chelmsford.
Reginald lived and, in 1914, enlisted at Chelmsford into the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment where he served as Private 2577 (later 250542). He was to rise to the rank of Sergeant. The battalion was a Territorial unit formed in 1908 with its headquarters in Market Road, Chelmsford, and it naturally contained many Chelmsford men who were to lose their lives in the war.
At the outbreak of the war Reginald’s battalion and three other Essex Territorial battalions which formed the 161st (Essex) Brigade in the 54th (East Anglian) Division had been half-way through their fortnight’s annual training at Clacton. On 3rd August 1914, the day before war was declared, Reginald’s battalion was initially ordered back to Chelmsford, but that was countermanded and the battalion marched for Dovercourt that afternoon where it was allotted part of a pre-arranged defensive line west of the town. On 9th August 1914 the battalion was sent to Brentwood. It did not stay there long, moving to north-east Norfolk by the end of the month, spending much of its time in training in expectation of foreign service and in defence of the eastern counties of England.
In April 1915 his battalion moved to West Bergholt, before transferring to St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire the middle of the following month. From St. Alban’s the battalion travelled to Devonport by train, and departed on board the S.S. Grampian on 23rd July 1915, with a somewhat depleted strength of 29 officers and 649 other ranks. Its ultimate destination was to be Gallipoli, Turkey to join the Allied forces participating in the campaign against the Turks which had started on 25th April 1915.
Stops were made at Malta and Alexandria in Egypt, before sailing to Mudros Bay on the small Greek island of Lemnos. From there the battalion sailed towards Gallipoli, transferred to flat-bottomed boats and its troops including Reginald were put ashore at A Beach, Suvla Bay on 9th August 1915 to supplement forces that had landed there over the previous three days.
The 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment had a difficult time in Gallipoli, making little progress against the Turkish Army and suffering heavily from disease. With the failure of the Gallipoli campaign Reginald’s battalion was withdrawn from Anzac Cove on 4th December 1915; its strength reduced by then to 13 officers and 141 other ranks, of whom six officers and 100 other ranks had served throughout the 17 weeks in Gallipoli.
Following its withdrawal from Gallipoli the battalion landed in Alexandria, Egypt on 17th December 1915. On 28th December 1915 it was sent to El Hamam, Egypt where it formed part of the Western Frontier Force. On 5th March 1916 the battalion left for Mena Camp near Cairo, Egypt, before it was moved eastwards to protect the Suez Canal and its vital supply route, in an area known as the Southern Canal Section, from Turkish attacks across the Sinai Peninsula. The battalion remained there until January 1917.
By early 1917 the Turkish forces that had been threatening Egypt were being steadily driven back across the Sinai Peninsular towards Palestine by the advancing Allies. The 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment spent most of February crossing the Peninsular and by late March 1917 was close to the Palestine town of Gaza, then still held by the Turks. The town was of strategic importance and had to be captured by the Allies if they were to succeed in their objective of driving the Turkish army northwards out of Palestine and thus isolating other Turkish forces in Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsular.
The initial attack to capture Gaza, known as the First Battle of Gaza, began early on 26th March 1917. The 161st Brigade, including the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment captured a hill known as Green Hill south-west of Ali el Muntar on the southern outskirts of Gaza. It was done so at a price - the Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists 117 fatalities for the battalion on 26th March 1917 plus 113 in the 1/4th Battalion of the Essex Regiment. Among them were ten Chelmsford men. The heavy casualties were mainly caused by the steady fire of three Turkish machine guns and one automatic rifle, aided by their protected position and perfect lateral filed for cross fire. Those losses were made more bitter by the decision, based on poor intelligence and communications, to withdraw Allied forces from their captured positions that night when in reality the town was their for the taking.
On 17th April 1917 a second attempt to capture Gaza, by then heavily reinforced by the Turks, was started by the Allies. Reginald’s battalion participated in the action. Some progress was made despite determined opposition and heavy casualties (many suffered by the Norfolk Regiment), but the breakthrough the Allies needed could not be achieved and Gaza remained in Turkish hands. The town would not fall to the Allies until 7th November 1917 at the conclusion of the Third Battle of Gaza.
During the period between the Second and Third Battles of Gaza the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment spent much of its time in trenches facing Turkish forces near to Gaza and the Mediterranean Sea.
On the morning of 1st November 1917 the battalion received news that it was to launch an attack towards Gaza in the early hours of the following morning. The attack was planned as part of a deception designed to convince the Turks that a major assault would be made direct on Gaza, while the main Allied advance was in fact taking place some 30 miles to the east near Beersheba. From Beersheba the Allies would strike westwards towards the coast, threatening to encircle Gaza.
A and D Companies of Reginald’s battalion were to attack the Rafa Redoubt. B Company, and two platoons of C Company were to take Zowaid Trench which lay immediately to the south (and to its right from the battalion’s starting position). Tanks would support both assaults. The remainder of C Company were in reserve while comrades from the 1/6th and 1/7th Battalions of the Essex Regiment were to assault other Turkish positions in the area, including Beach Post, Sea Post Cricket redoubt and the Rafa-Belah trench which ran northwards from Rafa Redoubt.
At 4.30 p.m. on 1st November 1917 a short service was held for Reginald’s battalion, which was well attended. Half an hour later the battalion’s troops went to sleep. At 11 p.m. a ‘good square hot meal’ was served with a pint of beer to wash it down, to the accompaniment of an artillery duel began between the Allies and Turks. The bombardment continued until 1 a.m., and by 2.30 a.m. the battalion’s troops were in position for the attacks, timed to start at 2.55 a.m. The battalion consisted of 25 officers and 925 other ranks. A post-war account of the battalion by its commander continued:
“Silence reigned supreme and we stood unscathed on ground, which an hour before had been a veritable inferno. It was a good start. The tanks had got over safely and at 2.55 the Companies moved off. At three precisely, the artillery commenced. The moon had just disappeared and the light was very bad. The smoke and dust of the fire made a thick fog and the compass had to be relied upon for direction....After about half-an-hour a runner got back to say that the enemy’s front line was in our hands....The Turks had put up a wonderful fight, many of them lying in forward positions in the open to avoid the bombardment, and meeting our men with the bayonet.
Still the reports were very confusing, as both attacking parties claimed to be in the Rafa redoubt. No word was received as to the Zowaid trench. Runners lost their way in the thick haze and it was impossible to tell exactly what the situation was. The air seemed filled with fine sand and smoke, which hung about like a thick ground fog and made it very difficult.
Reports came in from the right that attacks on El Arish Redoubt and El Burj trench had been repulsed. I was very anxious about Zowaid, which joined El Burj. The reports, however, proved incorrect. It was now broad daylight and the enemy was firing furiously from his second line. The 6th [Essex] had taken Beach and Sea Posts with little trouble. The 7th [Essex] had taken Cricket redoubt. bit had not succeeded in their attack on the very important trench the Rafa-Belah. The tanks had broken down and neither had reached even its first objective. The loss of their support was a serious blow for the 7th.
The morning wore on and still no more definite news of Zowaid.”
Over the next few hours news emerged that B Company, whose objective had been Zowaid Trench had lost direction in the darkness and struck Rafa instead - the objective of A and D Companies. A swarm of men from B Company had been spotted by the commander of D Company, Lt. E. B. Deakin, clambering up the steep sandy slope which led up to Rafa Redoubt. Realising the error Lt. Deakin then took his men to attack Zowaid Trench instead which was captured by A and D Companies, who suffered heavy casualties in doing so. Men from C Company also entered Rafa Redoubt, but the Rafa-Belah trench held out and inflicted heavy casualties on the 7th and 10th Battalions of the London Regiment who were fighting nearby. The post-war account continued:
JARROLD, REGINALD ARTHUR,
Sergeant, 1/5th Battalion, Essex Regiment
“It [the Rafa-Belah trench] was effectively blocked from the Rafa redoubt end, where [2nd Lt.] Archer did great work with his Lewis gun, fighting it himself almost single-handed after Sergeant C. T. Allaway, his most efficient Lewis gun non-commissioned officer, had been killed and most of the team knocked out. C.-S.-M. Wilson did splendid work in helping to organise and consolidate the position. Richmond and Lockwood, I remember, were conspicuous too, in Rafa redoubt; but it is hardly fair to mention names, there were so many others.”
The battalion managed to reinforce and retain both Rafa Redoubt and Zowaid Trench despite further attacks and heavy artillery fire from the Turks. Writing after the war the battalion’s commander stated:
“The capture of the Rafa redoubt and Zowaid trench was a feat of which the Battalion may well be proud. That the enemy offered a determined resistance was shown by the fact that our casualties in the action were two officers and 73 other ranks killed, seven officers and 172 other ranks wounded and nine other ranks missing. The killed included....such good non-commissioned officers as Sergts. H. Byles, N Bruce and D. Ambrose, Corpl. P Andersen, and L/Corpl. H. Quilter and Tasker.”
Seven men commemorated by the Chelmsford War Memorial were killed at the Third Battle of Gaza, but Reginald survived. A post-war history of Reginald’s battalion mentioned his bravery in that action:
“Corpl. R. A. Jarrold was conspicuous for his coolness and bravery, making frequent journeys over the open from trench to trench, organizing and leading storming parties to clear various portions still held by the enemy. During the minenwerfer [mortar] bombardment he took his Lewis gun into the open and succeeded in silencing one of those weapons, until his Lewis gun was knocked out by machine gun fire.”
The Supplement to the London Gazette dated 14th June 1918 announced that Corporal 250542 R. A. Jarrold had been mentioned in dispatches, presumably in connection with the same action.
As hoped for, the attack succeeded in not only capturing the Turkish positions it also succeeded in its strategic aim, which was to keep the Turkish forces tied to Gaza and to draw a large number of troops to reinforce the defence of the town. Allied forces were to continue to advance from the east and on 7th November the Turks abandoned Gaza and retreated to the north.
The Allied army continued to drive northwards through Palestine, capturing Jerusalem on 9th December 1917 and going even further north. After that progress was slow as many troops were withdrawn and transferred to fight along the Western Front in France and Germany. However, the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment remained and the Allied forces were gradually brought up to strength, strengthened with units from the Indian army. By the Autumn of 1918 the battalion was ready to participate in the final big action of the Palestine campaign, the Battle of Megiddo, which resulted in a convincing Allied victory.
On the evening of 18th September 1918 the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment was south of the village of Kefr Kasim in the Judean Foothills, close to the edge of the Plain of Sharon. Its objective the following day, at the start of the Battle of Megiddo, was to advance northwards with other battalions in the 161st (Essex) Brigade and capture Kefr Kasim. A post-war account by the battalion’s commander recalled:
“The men had their evening meal at 5.30 and after a good sleep were served out with a light meal of hot cocoa at midnight. At 1.10 a.m. we left our bivouac and arrived at the front line at 2.30 were a halt was made....
The Royal Engineers had laid a tape earlier in the evening for us to form up on, to ensure a true direction at the start....The enemy opened fire with 77’s and a certain amount of wild rifle fire from his outposts on the ridge, but the platoons laid down in column of fours and awaited the moment to start. one or two casualties occurred...It was still very dark and platoons did not open out much as originally intended owing to the number of men required for connecting files...
The advance commenced at 3.50 a.m. in absolute silence. The guns were not due to open fire until 4.30 by which was zero hour.
Slowly we moved forward up the gent;e rise and over the high ground. The enemy put over a good deal of high explosive, which, however, did little damage, although there was a very ‘devil among the tailors’ on he rocky ground sloping down to the Wadi Miyeh. The Wadi Ikba on our right was receiving considerable attention and was avoided as an avenue of approach, the right platoon moving on the slope to the left of it and overlooking it. The Wadi Miyeh itself, in front of us, was well plastered. Just before we reached the bottom the gunners struck the zero hour in no uncertain fashion along the whole front from the sea. It must have been a fine display of fireworks for those who had the luck to see it. We could only see immediately in front of us, but the noise was terrific and the reflections of the flashes lit up the sky to our left like summer lightning.
It would be twenty minutes before we could pass over Bureid Ridge owing to tourt bombardment of it, which proved to be quite unnecessary., We passed quickly over the Wadi Miyeh and stayed on the slope until we could get on. The enemy’s outposts had retired after firing a few shots, and white Very lights began to go up, also green ones in pairs; the latter were signal lights to their artillery, who must have had a busy time responding to the many frantic calls for support. Our guns were no taking on Umm el Bureid, which was held, and A Company deployed for the attack. The enemy, however, did not wait for the bayonet and was evident;y thinking about the best way back. There was no wire.
A Company was reorganised at this point and came into Battalion reserve. Battalion Headquarters also stopped here until the next position was made good. The remaining three companies deployed going down the hill and corrected their line on the more or less straight Wadi Rabah on a front of a thousand yards.
Rather more resistance was met with on Hill 479 and the spur to the left of it.. The sangars [fortifications] contained machine guns and were protected by barbed wire. The Lewis gunners did good work, pushing well forward, using the rocks for cover and bringing oblique fire on the sangars. It was now daylight.
The mobility of the Lewis guns proved of great value. On three occasions enemy machine guns were silenced by Lewis guns acting alone. two of them were captured and the whole of the teams taken or killed by the bayonet men. Hardly a rifle had been fired; it was unnecessary, as the advance had never been checked. The reserve company (A) crossed in the rear of B Company who were attacking Hill 479 and watched the right flank, where it was difficult to see what was going on.
B, C and D pushed straight on over the next ridge and advanced on Kasim Village and Wood, which was being given a severe dusting by the artillery. They got in immediately after the barrage lifted, under fire from a position in the rear, showing that agin the enemy had not waited for the assault.
The enemy’s artillery kept up rapid fore, including 5.0’s, but could not keep pace with our advance. Their fore always came down after we left each successive ridge. The 1/7th [Essex] were close up behind us. Then the enemy tured his attention to the village.
The Lewis guns pushed on with groups of rifle men in support to the front of the village, where they had some excellent shooting at the enemy retiring on Sivri Tepe and Wood. But cover was scarce and there were several casualties, among them Sergt, Jarrold, who had already been mentioned in dispatches for gallantry, and was killed while commanding his Lewis gun section with his usual bravery and dash.”
Reginald was aged 22 when he was killed, one of 14 from the battalion killed that day. Today he lies at Ramleh War Cemetery, Israel (grave: E. 25).
On 11th October 1918 the Essex County Chronicle included the following family announcement:
“Jarrold. - Killed in action on the 19th September, 1918, in Palestine, Sergt. R. A. Jarrold, Essex Regt., dearly loved elder son of Mr. and Mrs. A Jarrold, 35 Victoria Road, Chelmsford, aged 22. R.I.P.”
The same edition of the paper also reported:
“Sgt. R. A. Jarrold, Essex Regt., eldest son of Mr. A. Jarrold. 35 Victoria Road, Chelmsford, was killed in Palestine on Sept. 19, within a few days of his 22nd birthday. He was in the drawing office at the Arc Works, and enlisted on the day his indentures concluded soon after the outbreak of the war. He was a popular young fellow, soon secured promotion, and was recently mentioned in dispatches. He was in the Lewis Gun Section, and went through the Gallipoli campaign.
Reginald is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and by the Chelmsford Parish Great War Memorial in Chelmsford Cathedral. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed his parents at 35 Victoria Road, Chelmsford (now demolished, but was opposite the entry to the Cathedral School). His mother was still there in 1940. His father died in 1935, aged 63. His mother died 13 years later, aged 82.