Reginald Morley Coultas
Corporal, 1/5th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment
Military Service Number 200160
Born December 1890 in Scarborough
Killed in Action 9 October 1917 at Poelcappele, during the Third Battle of Ypres
Remembered With Honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial (Panel 125-128)
Reginald was the son of George Coultas, the Scalby Postmaster, and Lucy Watson. He had two brothers, one of whom, Arnold, was killed in action on the Somme on 5 July 1916. He also had a sister, Joan.
The photo shows Reginald when he was a pupil at Scalby Village School. The photo was taken outside the school, which is now St Laurence’s Church Rooms, at the bottom of the hill next to the church. In the 1911 Census he is described as a Waggoner on a farm owned by Thomas Leefe at Fryton, near Hovingham & Slingsby, near Malton, North Yorkshire but his service records, which have survived in very poor condition, reveal he was a Goods Porter with the Great Central Railway Co, living at 21 Sandymount Rd, Wath on Dearne by Spring 1912.
Reginald served with the 49th (West Riding) Division in the 148th Brigade. He enlisted in the Territorials before war broke out, on 21 March 1912 at Wath-on-Dearne and his Medal Rolls Index Card reveals that he entered France on 13 April 1915.
The Scarborough Mercury of 11 June 1915 reports, “News has reached Scalby that Private Coultas, a native of the village, has been wounded in the arm in France, and is now in hospital in Manchester. He belongs to a Territorial regiment, from the Sheffield district. His father, who recently died at Hovingham, was formerly postman at Scalby.”
Reginald was home on leave in March 1916 and married Martha Tring in Doncaster.
He was killed in action during what has become known as the Battle of Poelcapelle: one of the eight battles comprising the Third Battle of Ypres. This was an attack to secure the 2 spurs leading up to the Passchendale Ridge.
The weather conditions were atrocious and the fighting conditions “conformed to the classic imagery of Western Front trench warfare in which the dominant elements of mud and rain generated a degree of misery for participants which is almost impossible to describe.
On the evening of 8 October assault troops, severely hampered by the heavy going and drenching cold rain, laboured to their starting lines on the eight mile attack frontage. At zero-hour, 5.20am the following morning, exhausted and under strength British and Australian units attacked in atrocious conditions behind a ragged and inaccurate barrage. At the centre of the attack Brigades of the 66th and 49th Divisions met ferocious machine-gun fire from the undestroyed German pillboxes and shell hole defences on the forward slopes. 49th Division attackers, having floundered through the morass of the flooded Ravebeek, were additionally impeded by belts of barbed-wire and forward movement halted at 9.30am.” http://www.cwgc.org/ypres/content.asp?menuid=36&submenuid=38&id=26&menuname=Poelcapelle&menu=subsub
Reginald Coultas and Private Edward Shepherd, also of Scalby, were both in 1/5 Bn Yorks and Lancaster Regiment which advanced up the slope to Bellevue under machine gun fire from Wolf Copse. Both were among the heavy casualties the battalion suffered.
In October 1917 the paper reported, “Reginald M. Coultas, Scalby, son of the late Mr Geo. Coultas, postman, was killed in action in France on October 9th. Three brothers joined the army following the outbreak of war. One, Arnold, was killed a short time ago. Another, Ronald, came home recently, having developed scarlet fever, and is now in a sanatorium. Now comes the sad news of the death of Reginald, who was wounded in the early part of 1915, and on recovery returned to his regiment. He was in hospital in England some time and married his nurse, who he leaves a widow with one child. He had acted as scout and sniping instructor at the Rugeley and Clipstone Camps, holding certificates and wearing badges for first-class shooting and scouting.”
Reginald’s informal ‘Soldier’s Will’ which he wrote in his pocket book on 7 July 1916, reads, “In the event of my death I bequeath all my belongings to my wife, M. (Martha) Coultas, Ebenezer Cottage, Badshot Lea, nr Farnham, Surrey.” Martha came from Badshot Lea, where she married Albert Richardson on 9 October 1918, 4 days after the War Office recognised Reginald’s will as valid.