Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Captain Reginald Blockley Lucas, Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the Norfolk Regiment, was killed during the Battle of the Somme.
Born and raised in Australia, he had studied medicine and qualified as a doctor. At the outbreak of the Great War he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps Reserve, and in January of 1915 he transferred to the British Army and shortly thereafter was posted to the Base Hospital at Rouen in France as a Lieutenant. In March of 1916 he was attached to 7th (Service) Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment, as a temporary captain.
The 7th Battalion had been formed at Norwich in August of 1914 as part of 35th Brigade, 12th Division, in Kitchener’s New Army; they landed in France at the end of May 1915. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 12th Division relieved the 8th Division after its attempt to take enemy-held Ovillers-la-Boisselle; they were to continue the attack into the following day but due to utter chaos they requested a day’s postponement. On the day of Captain Lucas’ death the 35th Brigade advanced amidst heavy shelling, and although they entered the enemy’s trench lines they were facing highly-trained German soldiers who fought aggressively to hold their line. The 12th Division’s casualties were in the thousands. Captain Lucas had been going out to attend to the dying and helping to retrieve the wounded when at one point he did not return. He was listed as missing, presumed killed. He may have been buried on the battlefield, or without being identified in the newly-established Ovillers military cemetery – 2,480 out of 3,440 Commonwealth graves there contain soldiers who remain unknown.
Reginald, from Adelaide, Australia, was 26 years old and married.