Lieutenant Reginald Courtenay Hulton Woodhouse

A career soldier, Reginald was the only son of R.I. Woodhouse (rector of Merstham) and Mrs Woodhouse.  Born in 1890, he was a career soldier and was 25 at the time of his death in action on 13-14 January, 1916.

Born at St Luke’s Vicarage, Bromley Compton in Kent in 1890, Reginald attended Eton between 1904-1909, where he achieved recognition for his academic ability. Following on from school, he was an undergraduate at University College, Oxford. Whilst at university, Reginald joined the Officer Training Corps. There, his potential was realised and he secured the highest marks in his year for entry into the army as an officer.  As a result, he was allowed free choice of the unit to which he wished to be attached and straight after graduation, he obtained a commission, opting to join the Indian Army.  Following the outbreak of World War I, he was transferred from the 83rd Battalion Wallja-ahbad Light Infantry to the 56th Battalion Punjabi Rifles. During 1914-16, Reginald was serving with the 1st Battalion of the 56th Punjabi Rifles. His regiment was attached to the 28th Indian Brigade. This was part of one of seven Indian expeditionary forces despatched overseas (Indian Expeditionary Force F), and had been assigned the defence of the vital imperial artery, the Suez Canal. In December 1915,  Reginald’s unit was transferred to Mesopotamia and was involved in the unsuccessful attempts to relieve the British and Indian garrison at Kut, which was besieged by the Turks from 7 December 1915 through to 29 April 1916.  The Indian Army, which was the largest of the British Imperial and Commonwealth forces was, throughout the conflict, made up entirely of volunteers. Of the  one million Indian servicemen who served overseas during that conflict, 700 000 were sent to Mesopotamia.

In what has been described as ‘the worst defeat of the allies in World War One’, among the captured at Kut were six generals. Reginald was killed in the early stages of the campaign at Kut-Al-Amara (Iraq). His body was not in a named grave; as a result he appears on the CWGC memorial at Basra (panel 56) in Iraq.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser  22/01/1916, p. 5; ‘KILLED IN ACTION’.

The Siege of Kut

Officer Training Corps     The origins of the OTC were in the pre-war army reforms introduced by the Secretary of War, Lord Haldane in 1906. It was designed to solve a recruitment shortage of trained officers for the  reserves.  Courtenay served first with the Shropshire Light Infantry based at Secunderabad before taking up a commission with the 83rd Wallaj-ahbad Light Infantry.


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