Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Reginald D’Arcy Anderson (1880–1917)

Reginald D’Arcy Anderson

Reginald D’Arcy Anderson was born in Ireland in 1880, the eldest son of Robert Henry G. B. P. Anderson (born c.1850) and Mary Morgan Anderson. His parents had the following children:

  • Violet Anderson (born in Kerry, Ireland on 9 January 1878)
  • Reginald D’Arcy Anderson (born in Kerry, Ireland at Market Street, Listowel on 27 January 1880)
  • Robert Grenville (“John”) Anderson (born 29 July 1881; twin); later adopted the surname Gayer-Anderson
  • Thomas Gayer Anderson (born 29 July 1881; twin); later adopted the surname Gayer-Anderson.

Reginald’s parents moved to Tonbridge in 1894 specifically so that he and his two younger brothers could attend Tonbridge School as day-boys. Reginald became a House Praeposter and Captain of his House (Day Boys A–K) in September 1897, and left the school from its Army Class at Easter 1898, having passed into the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cooper’s Hill. His younger brothers left the school at the same time.

The Standard of 10 January 1900 announced Reginald’s appointment as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and at first he served in England, where he undertook chemical and mechanical research. The 1901 census shows Reginald (21) as a Lieutenant in the RGA barracks in Pembrokeshire.

He was then posted to No. 1 Mountain Battery at Khyra Gali, India. In 1902 he had a severe attack of enteric fever and came home on sick leave, and during his convalescence he read for and passed high into the Ordnance College, where he hoped to put his technical knowledge to good use.

Subsequently Reginald held Ordnance appointments (chiefly dealing with explosives) at Woolwich, the Carragh in County Kildare, and in Scotland, where he was Inspector of Explosives for some time.

In the fourth quarter of 1907 Reginald D’Arcy Anderson married Norah Gracey, the daughter of Colonel Gracey of Blackheath, in the Woolwich registration district. They had just one son:

  • John D’Arcy Anderson (born on 23 September 1908, registered in Greenwich district).

It appears that Reginald’s wife Norah went back to stay at her family home at Ballyhossett House, Downpatrick, Co. Down, as that is given as Mrs D’Arcy Anderson’s address in 1911 when she was elected a member of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club. Meanwhile Reginald continued with his career in the army and was gazetted a Captain in 1911.

In 1913, while conducting a series of investigations with cordite, he was so severely poisoned by it that he nearly died. He was still disabled by its effects at the beginning of the war, but insisted on being taken back to full duty, declaring that otherwise he would relinquish his commission and serve in the ranks.

In about 1916/1917 Anderson’s parents came to live at The Lodge in Old Marston. (This may be the house subsequently known as Walnut Tree House at 75 Oxford Road.)

Poppy In the First World War Reginald D’Arcy Anderson was gazetted as an Ordnance Officer (3rd Class), A.O.D. on 12 December 1914. He was promoted to Major and was sent out with the M.E.F. to Salonika; but his health broke down, and he was invalided home early in 1916.

In October 1916 he rejoined the Royal Garrison Artillery, and after a period of training was given command of the 384th Siege Battery (which he had trained and equipped himself). While en route to Mesopotamia with his men and guns he contracted malignant malaria, and died at the age of 37 on 14 August 1917 before he could realize his ambition of taking his own guns into action beyond Baghdad.

He was buried at sea the next morning, on 15 September 1917. He is remembered on the Basra Memorial in Iraq and on the Roll of Honour of St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston.

Administration was granted in London to his widow, Norah Anderson, on 22 December 1917. He left £2,693 16s. 6d., and his final address was given as Marston Lodge.


Postscript

Old Marston memorial

Reginald’s parents
  • Henry Anderson is listed as the occupant of The Lodge in Old Marston in Kelly’s Directory up until 1922. He appears to have died at the age of 77 in 1927 (registered fourth quarter in Bedford district).
Reginald’s twin brothers
  • Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson (born 1881), who had qualified as a doctor from Guy’s Hospital in 1903, became a Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He retired from the army in 1920 when he was appointed Senior Inspector in the Ministry of the Interior, Egypt. The Gayer-Anderson Museum is named after him. He died in England on 16 June 1945, and is buried in Lavenham, Suffolk.
  • Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson (born 1881) was mentioned four times in despatches during the First World War, and rose to be a Lieutenant-Colonel. He remained in the army after the war, and eventually became an illustrator. He lived in Lavenham, Suffolk, first in the Great House and then next door at Little Hall: these homes were shared with his twin brother, but John spent less time there. Little Hall now houses the offices of the Suffolk Preservation Society. Thomas outlived his twin brother by fifteen years and died on 10 June 1960.
Reginald’s wife
  • Mrs Norah D’Arcy Anderson was still living at Ballyhossett, Downpatrick, County Down at the time of her son John’s marriage in 1937.
Reginald’s son
  • John D’Arcy Anderson (born 1908) was educated at Winchester and New College, then joined the army in 1929, eventually becoming a General. In 1937 he married Elizabeth Antoinette Merrifield Walker. He served in France, the Middle East, and Italy in the Second World War, and was twice mentioned in despatches. He was knighted in 1961. He died in 1988 and his wife in 2011. They had no children.

See also
  • CWGC: Reginald D’Arcy Anderson
  • Reginald D’Arcy Anderson’s obituary in The Times of 28 August 1917
  • Report of Reginald D’Arcy Anderson’s death in the Oxford Chronicle, 14 September 1917, p. 7
  • Biography of Reginald D’Arcy Anderson and his two brothers in Tonbridge School and the Great War of 1914–1919 (1923, reprinted in 2001 by the Naval & Military Press Ltd), pp. 14–16
  • Reginald’s son: see ANDERSON, General Sir John (D’Arcy) in Who Was Who
  • Wikipedia: Royal Garrison Artillery

Back to Roll of Honour of St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website