Albert Mereworth (Bert) REYNOLDS MID

REYNOLDS, Albert Mereworth

Service Number: 1179
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Born: Moss Vale, New South Wales, Australia, 1892
Home Town: Moss Vale, Wingecarribee, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Grazier
Died: Bowral, New South Wales, Australia, 1967, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 1 Service

21 Oct 1915: Involvement Private, 1179, 12th Light Horse Regiment, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '3' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: SS Hawkes Bay embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''
21 Oct 1915: Embarked Private, 1179, 12th Light Horse Regiment, SS Hawkes Bay, Sydney

World War 2 Service

10 Jun 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 3 Battalion Imperial Camel Corps
5 Aug 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, Designated in Palestine as No 67 Squadron (Australian), Royal Flying Corps

Help us honour Albert Mereworth Reynolds's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Allen Hancock

REYNOLDS, Albert Mereworth (1892-1967)

3rd Anzac Battalion, Imperial Camel Brigade – Romani, Magdhaba, Gaza. 

No 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps – Palestine

Albert Mereworth Reynolds was born in 1892 in Moss Vale, New South Wales, the eldest of 5 children of Albert Douglas Reynolds and Emily Agatha Cowley. Like his cousin Robert Collister Cowley, Bert had a desire to join the Australian Light Horse fighting in the Middle East. He enlisted on 23 August 1915 as a member of the 6th reinforcement group for the 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment. He embarked for overseas service from Sydney on 23 October 1915 on the HMAT HAWKES BAY and was taken on strength with the 2nd Light Horse Training Battalion at Moascar, Egypt on 6 April 1916.

After the evacuation of Gallipoli, it was decided to remount the Australian Light Horse and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division was formed, more commonly known as the Anzac Mounted Division, Major General Chauvel being transferred from the 1st Division to command it.

The division was originally composed as follows:

·         1st Light Horse Brigade

·         New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade

·         2nd Light Horse Brigade

·         3rd Light Horse Brigade

Signal and Field Squadrons and a Divisional Train were organised and trained, the Field Ambulance and Veterinary Section originally belonging to these Brigades were allotted and the Inverness, Ayrshire, Somerset, and Leicester Territorial Horse Artillery Brigades were added.

The 4th Light Horse Brigade was not re-organised as a brigade, the 13th Light Horse being required as Corps Cavalry leaving the 11th and 12th to remain in Egypt as independent regiments.

The Imperial Camel Corps was also formed about this time to deal with the revolt of pro-Turkish Senussi tribesmen in Egypt's Western Desert. The first four companies were recruited from Australian infantry battalions recuperating after Gallipoli.

On 10 June 1916 Bert Cowley was transferred to train with the Camel Corps and on 11 November 1916 was taken on strength of the 3rd Anzac Battalion.

The original four companies were reorganised into the Imperial Camel Brigade, formed on 19 December 1916 under the command of Brigadier General Clement Leslie Smith VC. The brigade would finally consist of four battalions. The 1st and 3rd were entirely Australian, the 2nd was British, and the 4th was a mix of Australians and New Zealanders. The ICC also had its own machine gun unit, and a battery of light artillery recruited in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Egyptian Expeditionary Force went over to the offensive in the Sinai Desert in August 1916, winning the Battle of Romani. In support of these operations in December the Imperial Camel Brigade also moved into the Sinai; their first large battle came during the Battle of Magdhaba on 23 December, two days after the brigade was officially formed.

The Battle of Magdhaba (officially known by the British as the Affair of Magdhaba) took place on 23 December 1916. The attack by the Anzac Mounted Division took place against an entrenched Ottoman Army garrison to the south and east of Bir Lahfan in the Sinai desert, some 18–25 miles (29–40 km) inland from the Mediterranean coast. This Egyptian Expeditionary Force victory against the Ottoman Empire garrison also secured the town of El Arish after the Ottoman garrison withdrew.

In August 1916, a combined Ottoman and German Empire Army had been forced to retreat to Bir el Abd, after the British victory in the Battle of Romani. During the following three months the defeated force retired further eastwards to El Arish, while the captured territory stretching from the Suez Canal was consolidated and garrisoned by the EEF. Patrols and reconnaissances were carried out by British forces, to protect the continuing construction of the railway and water pipeline and to deny passage across the Sinai desert to the Ottoman forces by destroying water cisterns and wells.

By December, construction of the infrastructure and supply lines had sufficiently progressed to enable the British advance to recommence, during the evening of 20 December. By the following morning, a mounted force had reached El Arish to find it abandoned. An Ottoman Army garrison in a strong defensive position was located at Magdhaba, some 18–30 miles (29–48 km) inland to the south-east, on the Wadi el Arish. After a second night march by the Anzac Mounted Division (Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division), the attack on Magdhaba was launched by Australian, British and New Zealand troops against well-entrenched Ottoman forces defending a series of six redoubts.

Despite heavy Ottoman fire the attacking mounted troops found cover and dismounted, some about 1,600 yards (1,500 m) from the redoubts and entrenchments, while others got as close as 400 yards (370 m). At the same time, units of the Imperial Camel Brigade were moving straight on Magdhaba, in a southeasterly direction, following the telegraph line, and by 08:45 were slowly advancing on foot, followed by the 1st Light Horse Brigade, in reserve.

During the day's fierce fighting, the mounted infantry tactics of dismounting to make their attack with the bayonet supported by artillery and machine guns prevailed, assisted by aircraft reconnaissance. All the well-camouflaged redoubts were eventually located and captured, and the Ottoman defenders surrendered in the late afternoon.

After the British victories at the Battle of Romani in August 1916 and the Battle of Magdhaba in December, the Ottoman Army had been forced back to the southern edge of Palestine as the EEF pushed eastwards supported by extended lines of communication. With the railway reaching El Arish on 4 January 1917, an attack on Rafa by the newly formed Desert Column became possible. During the day-long assault on 9 January, the Ottoman garrison defended a series of fortified redoubts and trenches on rising ground surrounded by flat grassland. They were eventually encircled by Australian Light Horsemen, New Zealand mounted riflemen, the Camel Brigade and armoured cars. In the late afternoon, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade captured the central redoubt, and the remaining defences were occupied shortly afterwards.

The coastal city of Gaza was the heart of the main Turkish defensive position in southern Palestine. Three major battles were launched in 1917 by British and dominion forces to capture Gaza - only the third succeeded in this object.

The first battle of Gaza took place on 26 March 1917. Two British infantry divisions were to attack it from the south while the mounted troops of the Desert Column would attack from the flanks and north. When the attack was launched the infantry made slow progress, but the mounted troops succeeded in capturing high ground to the north of the city and advancing into it. Concerned by the lack of progress made by the infantry, and fearing the water supplies vital for the mounted troops would not be captured that night, Lieutenant General Dobell, the British officer commanding the operation, ordered a withdrawal at dusk. The next morning, after realising his mistake, Dobell attempted to resume the battle with the infantry, but with the troops exhausted and the Turks having received reinforcements, the attack floundered.

The second battle of Gaza took place three weeks later, beginning on 17 April 1917. In the interim, the Turks had extended and improved their defences. Dobell launched another frontal assault on the Turkish defences, which was supported by six tanks and gas shells. The tanks and the gas were both dismal failures and the attacking forces could make little headway against well-sited Turkish redoubts. After three days of fighting the attack was called off, having not gained any significant ground. The Imperial Camel Brigade suffered particularly heavy casualties during this action.

The third battle of Gaza was begun as a feint to divert enemy forces to Gaza. The garrison was bombarded for six days, and three divisions deployed, to fool the Turks into believing that another frontal attack was imminent.

On 5 August 1917 Bert Reynolds was transferred to No 67 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps for duty as an Air Mechanic 2nd Class.

Designated as No 1 Squadron in Australia, the unit was redesignated as No 67 Squadron (Australian), Royal Flying Corps when it began flying operations in its own right on 12 June 1916, although its three flights operated independently from dispersed airfields. Initially, the squadron's main role was aerial reconnaissance and its aircraft operated both out across the Sinai desert in search of Turkish forces, and across Egypt's western desert to monitor activity by the rebellious Senussi. Increasingly, though, its aircraft were involved in attacks against Turkish ground forces.

After being reunited in December 1916, the squadron supported the British and dominion advance into Palestine. It became a "jack of all trades" carrying out reconnaissance, photography, ground attack and liaison missions, in addition to having to fight off aggressive German adversaries.

During the last weeks of the fighting in the area, the squadron flew in support of the allied advance into Palestine, moving from one airfield to another, as their armies pursued the retreating Turks northwards.

As armoured motor vehicles and cavalry raced to keep in touch with the fleeing Turks during October 1918, the only fighting that continued in the Middle East was in the air. The war against Turkey ended on 31 October 1918. No. 1 Squadron returned to Egypt after the armistice and embarked for Australia in January 1919.

Bert Cowley embarked for his return to Australia from Kantara aboard HMAT PORT SYDNEY on 4 March 1919, the same ship as his cousin Robert Cowley. He was discharged on 13 June 1919.

Bert’s service record shows him as being Mentioned in Dispatches although there is no information as to why.

In 1921 he married Una Neville Anderson in Moss Vale. Bert died in 1967 in Bowral.