Major-General Sir Reginald Walter Ralph Barnes KCB DSO (13 April 1871 – 19 December 1946) was a cavalry officer in the British Army. He served in several regiments, and commanded a battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry, the 10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Royal Hussars, the 111th Brigade, and three divisions.
During his career he served in the Cuban War of Independence, the Second Boer War and the First World War. Becoming a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, and a Knight Commander of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath. He was also awarded a French Croix de Guerre.
Reginald Walter Ralph Barnes was born 13 April 1871, at Stoke Canon Exeter, the son of Prenbendary R H Barnes. He was educated at Westminster School, before in December 1888, becoming a second-lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry, at the time part of the militia. He was promoted to lieutenant in September 1889. Then in December 1890 he transferred to the regular army, dropping down a rank to second-lieutenant, when he joined the 4th (Queen's Own) Hussars. He regained his substantive rank of lieutenant in May 1893.
Cuban War of Independence
His first experience of war came in November 1895, when he was attached as an observer of guerrilla warfare to the Spanish Army during the Cuban War of Independence, together with his fellow 4th Hussars officer, a twenty-one-year-old Winston Churchill. Churchill was an accredited journalist for the London Daily Graphic newspaper, sending them dispatches from the front. But both officers were also under orders from Colonel Edward Chapman, the British Director of Military Intelligence to "collect information and statistics on various points and particularly as to the effect of the new bullet its penetration and striking power". Returning to England Barnes became the regimental adjutant, from May 1896 for the next four years.
Second Boer War
In 1899, Barnes was seconded as adjutant to the Imperial Light Horse in South-Africa, and on 31 December 1899 he was promoted to Captain. He was present at the Battle of Elandslaagte in October 1899, and in February 1900 at the Battle of the Tugela Heights, which was part of the relief of Ladysmith. That was followed by the relief of Mafeking, in May and June 1900. Next were operations in the Transvaal around Pretoria, and the battle of Belfast in August. His participation in the war was recognised by being created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).
As the nature of the war changed into one of attrition, in May 1901, he became a local major and second in command of the 17th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. Only two months later, in July 1901, he was promoted to temporary lieutenant-colonel and commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion Imperial Yeomanry, serving as such until March 1902, when he returned to an ordinary posting in his regiment. He returned to the United Kingdom by the steamship Kildonan Castle the same month. As well as his DSO, Barnes was also mentioned in dispatches for his service in South-Africa.
In the post Boer War period, Barnes carried out several non regimental staff duties. On 1 May 1904, he became the Aide de Camp to General The Viscount Kitchener in his position as Commander-in-Chief, India, until to January 1906. He then became an instructor at the Cavalry School, until December 1907, when he was promoted to major and transferred to the 17th (Duke of Cambridge's Own) Lancers. He remained with his new regiment until October 1909 and was the employed by as the Assistant Military Secretary to the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Malta Leslie Rundle. That posting lasted until February 1911, when he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and given command of the 10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Royal Hussars.
First World War
On the outbreak of war the 10th Hussars were stationed in South-Africa. The regiment sailed for Britain arriving 22 September 1914 and were assigned to the 6th Cavalry Brigade. They then travelled to the Western Front as part of the 3rd Cavalry Division, therefore missing the early stages of the conflict. On 20 November the same year the regiment came under command of the 8th Cavalry Brigade. While under Barnes command the regiment fought in the First Battle of Ypres and the Second Battle of Ypres. He was then, in April 1915, promoted to brigadier-general and given command of the infantry 116th Brigade, part of the 39th Division. His brigade was formed from the 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions, Royal Sussex Regiment and the 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. In 1916 Barnes was invested into the Order of the Bath in June and promoted to temporary major-general in November, giving up command of the brigade. His promotion to substantive major-general came in May 1918, during this time he commanded the 32nd Division one of Kitchener's new army division's and the Territorial Force's 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division.
In the immediate post war period, Barnes was awarded several honours. In January 1919, he was appointed the Colonel of the Regiment to the 4th Hussars. In June he was given command of the Territorial West Lancashire Division, and invested as a Knight Commander of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath. He was also twice awarded the French Croix de Guerre.
Away from army life he resided at Oakhay Barton, Stoke Canon in Devon, marrying Gunhilla Wijk, a widow, in 1919. Their son, Second-Lieutenant Reginald Ralph Barnes of the Coldstream Guards, was killed during the Second World War.
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