INDENTMajor General Hamilton Lyster Reed V.C., C.B., C.M.G. (1889-1931), the son of Sir Andrew Reed K.C.B., C.V.O., Inspector General Royal Irish Constabulary, was gazetted into the Royal Field Artillery, 1888, and promoted Captain 1898; served in South Africa 1899-1901 and took part in the operations in Natal, the Relief of Ladysmith, the action at Colenso (wounded), also at the actions at Spion Kop, Vaal Krantz, Tugela Heights, Pieter's Hill, Laing's Nek, Belfast and Lydenberg (Mentioned in Despatches, London Gazette 26.1.1900, 8.2.1901, and 10.7.1901)
The culmination of Britain's "Black Week" during which the Boer Forces inflicted defeats on General Methuen at Magersfontein and General Gatacre at Stormberg, was the Battle of Colenso. The British relief expedition for Ladysmith, led by Sir Redvers Buller, arrived at the Tugela River at Colenso and fell into a well laid Boer trap. The enemy were well concealed, and brought a crippling fire down on the British troops who were ordered into a frontal attack over open ground. At the same time the guns of 14th and 66th Field Batteries, unlimbering to fire, were surprised by a concealed Boer force. Unable to withdraw, it seemed that the guns would be lost. Volunteers were called to help save them.
V.C., London Gazette 2.2.1900 "Hamilton Lyster Reed, Capt. 7th Battery Royal Field Artillery. Capt. Reed who had heard of the difficulty, shortly afterwards brought down three teams from his battery to see if he could be of any use. He was wounded, as were five of the thirteen men who rode with him. One was killed, and thirteen (including his own) out of twenty one horses were killed before he got halfway to the guns, and he was obliged to retire."
Reed was one of a distinguished group of recipients of the Victoria Cross for this action, the others being Major W. Babtie, R.A.M.C., Captain W.N.Congreve, Rifle Brigade, Sergeant G.E.Nurse, R.F.A., Lieutenant the Hon. F.S.Roberts, K.R.R.C., and Captain H.N.Schofield, R.F.A. In his despatch from Chievely Camp, 16 December 1899, Buller explains how he determined who of the many men involved in the rescue attempt, should be recommended for the Victoria Cross. "I have differentiated in my recommendations because I thought that a Victoria Cross required proof of initiative, something more in fact than mere obedience to orders." Buller presented the Victoria Crosses to Captain Reed and Sergeant Nurse at Ladysmith, 18 March 1900.
Major 1904; on General Staff, Army Headquarters 1906-1910; Staff Officer to Inspector-General Overseas Forces 1910-11; Military Attaché with the Turkish Army during the Balkan War, 1911-1912 (Order of St Sava)
The Scots at Bouzancy
Lieutenant Colonel 1914; Colonel 1915 (C.M.G. 23.6.1915), Brigadier General 1915; Temporary Major General 1917, Commander in Chief 15 (Scottish) Division, 1917-19 (C.B. 1.1.1918).
The 15th Division played a vital role in the prolonged Battle of Arras, March-August 1918, where for several weeks the German counter-offensive tried to regain the ground lost the previous year. Towards the end of March it seemed that the enemy would succeed in retaking Arras through sheer weight of numbers, but the city was saved by the stubborn defence and then counter-attack of the 15th and 34th (Yorkshire) Divisions. Ludendorf's great offensive was halted. In the subsequent fighting the British divisions, along with the French forces under General Mangin, advanced towards Soissons. It was at Bouzancy that the 15th Division achieved a remarkable victory, clearing the high plateau north of Soissons of the German crack Divisions, the Guard Ersatz and the Bavarian Ersatz, and forcing the rapid retreat of the enemy to new defensive positions on the Aisne. The French General Gassouin ordered a monument to be erected at Bouzancy, on the spot where the foremost Scottish soldiers had fallen among the intricate web of enemy machine-gun nests. General Mangin's tribute to the British Divisions was unusually fulsome and concluded "I am proud to have fought at your head." This victory was achieved after the 15th Division had been continually in action for over seven months.
Major General Reed continued to command his Division until the conclusion of the war. Mentioned in Despatches eight times, and promoted Major General in 1919, he went on to command the 52nd (Lowland) Territorial Division 1923-27. His ties with the Scottish regiments he commanded remained strong until his retirement in 1927. Major General Reed died 7th March 1931.