Reginald Frederick Johnson Hayward VC MC*

b. 17/06/1891 Swartberg, South Africa. d. 17/01/1978 Chelsea, London.

Reginald Frederick Johnson Hayward (1891-1970) was the eldest son of Frederick Johnson Hayward of Limpley Stoke, Bath and his wife Gertrude (nee Harris), and was born in Beersheba near Swartberg, East Griqualand, South Africa on 17th June 1891. He was educated at Hilton College and represented Natal against English Rugby teams in 1911. Serving with the cadets he became Regimental Sergeant Major. His father, Frederick, was at one time a well-known stock breeder in South Africa.

Reginald F J Hayward

After leaving school Reginald attended a business college in Durban during the period 1909-1910 and was good at most games especially rugby, football and cricket. In May 1912 he travelled to England and began studying at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and captained their Rugby XV in 1913. He also played for Rosslyn Park Club and for Middlesex.

He was commissioned in the 6th Wiltshire Regiment on 29th September 1914 and was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant on 24th December in the same year. In March 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to 1st Wiltshires and in 1916 was awarded the Military Cross at Stuff Redoubt for conspicuous gallantry and initiative, gazetted on 8th October. On 19th December he was promoted to Acting Captain. He was awarded a Bar to his MC at Messines Ridge on 7th June 1917 which was gazetted on 18th September.

On 21st/22nd March 1918 near Fremicourt, France, while commanding a company, Captain Hayward displayed almost superhuman powers of endurance. In spite of the fact that he was buried, wounded in the head and rendered deaf on the first day of operations and had his arm shattered two days later, he refused to leave his men (even though he received a third serious injury to his head from a bazooka) until he collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Throughout this period the enemy were attacking the company’s front without cessation, but Captain Hayward continued to move across the open from one trench to another with absolute disregard for his own safety.

He was presented with both the VC and his MC at Buckingham Palace by King George V on 24th October 1918. After the war he became Adjutant of 1st Wiltshires from 1919-1921, and served in Dublin, Egypt and Palestine. He was promoted to Captain on 21st September 1927.  In 1935 he retired from the Army and in 1938 married Linda, daughter of Charles Brice Bowen. In the same year he was recalled and during the Second World War served with Ack Ack Command (CRASC). From 1945 to 1947 he was Commandant, Prisoner of War Camps.

For the next 5 years he worked in the Publications Department of the BBC and from 1952 to 1967 he was games manager of the Hurlingham Club. He died at 7 Ormonde Gate, Chelsea, London SW3 on 17th January 1970 and his wife died a few months later, in August. He was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium on 23rd January and his VC along with his other medals were left to his former regiment, then the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (now The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment) based in Devizes. The medals are now held at The Rifles Museum, Salisbury, Wiltshire.





Thomas Stewart – Image of the Hayward VC Medal Group at The Rifles Museum, Salisbury.