Edward Womersley Reynolds GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 27/06/1917 Harborne, Birmingham. d. 14/12/1955 Birmingham.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 17/08 and 03/09/1940 Bristol.

Edward Womersley Reynolds (1917-1955) was born on the 27th June 1917 at Harborne, Birmingham, and he was the second son and 5th out of 6th children of John Henry Reynolds and his wife Brenda Mary (nee Chalk). The family lived in Harborne and his father was managing director of John Reynolds & Sons and President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1935-1937. He was the son of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and was also an accomplished musician and a Governor of the University of Birmingham.

Edward W Reynolds GC

Edward attended West House School, Edgbaston, and from there he moved to Repton from 1931-1935. On leaving school, he joined the family firm who were a manufacturer of nails. Edward joined the Territorial Army and was commissioned into 48th Division Royal Engineers on 8th April 1936 and was promoted to Lieutenant on 8th April 1939 being posted to France with the British Expeditionary Force, but was soon sent home suffering from pneumonia in February 1940. On recovery, he was posted to 102nd Bomb Disposal Section Royal Engineers at Barton Stacey.

He was awarded the EGM for two separate incidents in Bristol in the late summer of 1940. On 17th August 1940, a 250kg bomb landed in a garden, but did not explode. On digging down 17ft, he found that it had a new type of fuse, about which no instructions had been received. However, he removed the fuse and found that it had a clockwork delayed action. This was of great merit due to the lack of any exact knowledge of this type of fuse. On 1st September a large bomb fell in Temple Street, wrecking the front of some business premises. However, on 3rd September an unexploded 250kg bomb was found in the debris. Reynolds, summoned to the scene, found it had a clockwork fuse that was still ticking; according to orders, he applied for instructions, suggesting that the sooner it was dealt with the better. Permission was given to attempt to disarm the bomb due to the effect on public morale. Lieutenant Reynolds removed the fuse and rendered the bomb inoperative. The risk in doing so was very considerable.

Following his award of the EGM, which was soon exchanged for the George Cross, he was appointed Commandant of the Bomb Disposal Training Centre at Kirklee in India with the rank of Acting Major. He was invalided out in 1945 suffering from cerebral malaria and released from the Army in June 1946. He returned to the family firm as a Director. The company had been taken over, but he still held a position within the McArthur Group. He married Meg Wood and they had a son, David. Edward sadly passed away on 14th December 1955 in Birmingham, aged just 38. He was buried in St Peters Churchyard, Harborne.

His medals including his GC, Burma Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45 and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal were placed on loan to the Imperial War Museum by the Reynolds family and are displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.