Reginald Graham

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Sir Reginald Graham, 3rd Baronet
Victoria Cross Medal without Bar.png
Born17 September 1892
Calcutta, British India
Died6 December 1980
Edinburgh, Scotland
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
RankLieutenant Colonel
UnitArgyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Machine Gun Corps (attached)
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsVictoria Cross
Order of the British Empire
King Haakon VII's Cross of Liberty
Other workUsher of the Green Rod

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Reginald Noble Graham, 3rd Baronet VC OBE (17 September 1892 – 6 December 1980) was a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, "for most conspicuous bravery, coolness and resource when in command of a Machine Gun Section."[1]

He was born at Calcutta, India, on 17 September 1892, the eldest son of Sir Frederick Graham, 2nd Baronet, and was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. Soon after the First World War broke out he joined the British army and was posted to 9th Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's). In 1916 he was seconded to 136 Company, Machine Gun Corps, which was sent to Mesopotamia. During the Samarrah Offensive Lieutenant Graham was in command of a machine-gun section which was co-operating with the 56th Punjabi Rifles (Frontier Force) near Istabulat on the evening of 22 April 1917:

Lt. Graham accompanied his guns across open ground, under very heavy rifle and machine gun fire, and when his men became casualties, he assisted in carrying the ammunition.
Although twice wounded he continued during the advance to control his guns and was able, with one gun, to open an accurate fire on the enemy, who were massing for a counter-attack. This gun was put out of action by the enemy's rifle fire, and he was again wounded. The advancing enemy forced him to retire, but before doing so he further disabled his gun, rendering it useless.
He then brought a Lewis gun into action with excellent effect till all the ammunition was expended. He was again severely wounded, and forced through loss of blood to retire.
His valour and skilful handling of his guns held up a strong counter-attack which threatened to roll up the left flank of the Brigade, and thus averted what might have been a very critical situation.[1]

After recovering from his severe wounds Captain Graham, as he had become, was ordered back to Mesopotamia where he continued to serve until January 1918 when his company was transferred to Palestine where he was given command of the unit with the rank of major.

After the war, Graham returned to Scotland to a hero's welcome at his home village of Cardross.[2] He later worked in India in branches of the family firm, William Graham and Company, founded by his great-great-grandfather in Glasgow.[3]

In 1920 Graham married Rachel Sprot, daughter of Sir Alexander Sprot, 1st Baronet. They had one son (who inherited the baronetcy as Sir John Graham, 4th Baronet) and one daughter, Lesley married Jock Wykeham Strang Steel.[4]

Graham succeeded to the Baronetcy on the death of his father in 1936. During World War II he was given a temporary rank of lieutenant colonel and served in Scottish Command. He was awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours of 1946,[5] and King Haakon VII's Cross of Liberty in 1949.[6]

From 1959 to 1979 Graham was Usher of the Green Rod to the Order of the Thistle[7][8] and participated in many state occasions including the unveiling of a memorial to King George VI in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh in 1962.[9] He died aged 88 in Edinburgh.[10][11] Lady Graham died in 1984.[12]

Memorial Stone at Cardross

His medals are held by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum in Stirling Castle.

Reginald Graham's Commemorative Memorial Stone[13] was unveiled at the Cardross War Memorial on 22 April 2017, the 100th anniversary of his gallant action. There is a second Commemorative Memorial Stone to him in the National Memorial Arboretum along with Memorial Stones for all the other VCs who were born abroad.


  1. ^ a b "No. 30284". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 September 1917. p. 9532.
  2. ^ Villagers chaired VC hero – Helensburgh Heritage
  3. ^ Memoirs and portraits of 100 Glasgow men: 41. William Graham. This is William Graham, junior, son of the firm's founder. His brother, John Graham of Skelmorlie, mentioned in the article, was father of the 1st Baronet.
  4. ^ Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage 2011 - Steel of Philiphaugh Baronet
  5. ^ "No. 37407". The London Gazette. 1 January 1946. p. 20.
  6. ^ "No. 38571". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 March 1949. p. 1530.
  7. ^ "No. 17692". The Edinburgh Gazette. 24 February 1959. p. 115.
  8. ^ Order of the Thistle – Whitaker's Almanack 1972
  9. ^ Memorial To King George VI Unveiled – The Glasgow Herald, 5 July 1962
  10. ^ Deaths: Graham – On 6 December 1980, Sir Reginald Graham of Larbert, Baronet, V.C., O.B.E. ..., The Times, London, 9 December 1980, page 24
  11. ^ War hero dies – The Glasgow Herald, 10 December 1980
  12. ^ Deaths: Graham – On 4 April 1984, Rachel (née Sprot) widow of Sir Reginald Graham Bart V.C., O.B.E. ..., The Times, London, 6 April 1984, page 28
  13. ^

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Graham, 2nd Baronet
(of Larbert)
Succeeded by
Sir John Graham, 4th Baronet