Reginald Abrams

1888 - 1917

Born in Oxford, Reginald became an assistant at the Bodleian Library and gained an Oxford University degree. He survived when a bullet passed through the peak of his cap in 1915.

Son of a bookseller

Reginald Arthur Abrams was born in Oxford in 1888. He was the second of four children: the youngest was baptised at Walton Street Methodist Church. By 1891 his family lived in Walton Street and his father was a bookseller’s assistant.

Worked at the Bodleian

Reginald attended Oxford Boys’ High School, leaving at 14 to work at the Bodleian Library. After two years he was admitted to the University of Oxford, and as a non-collegiate student in St Catherine’s Society he lived at home. He graduated in 1909, and continued at the Bodleian.

Promoted Lieutenant

In 1915 Reginald was appointed Second Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment). He joined them in trenches near Ypres, and in October he experienced the Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt. Losses were heavy, and he was promoted to Lieutenant.

A close shave

Near Richebourg in November Reginald had a close shave when a sniper’s bullet passed through the peak of his cap and killed the officer beside him. The following year his battalion suffered casualties while preparing front-line trenches for the Battle of Gommecourt, but during the disastrous attack on 1 July 1916 they were in reserve. Afterwards they were sent to a relatively quiet part of the front for the remainder of the Somme offensive.

German retreat

Back at Gommecourt on 4 March 1917, as the Germans retreated Reginald was hit at close range. He died instantly, aged 28, and was buried at nearby Foncquevillers, close to the trenches where he had spent so long. He had at least finally seen an advance there.

Sister lived to be 100

Reginald is also remembered on the memorials of Oxford Boys’ High School, St Catherine’s Society, and at the British Library. His younger sister celebrated her hundredth birthday at Merton, Oxfordshire, in 1990.


AS/DM based on research by Stephanie Jenkins and the writing of WCC Weetman

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