Remembering Reginald James Paice, undergardener, Bagshot Park, who died of wounds in France on 28 April 1915, serving with C Squadron, Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars.
Part of the World War Zoo Gardens project here at Newquay Zoo involves looking at the impact that WW1 and WW2 had on the staff and activities of zoos and botanic gardens and their related areas of science, gardening and horticulture. As an active memorial it also involves researching some of the lesser known names whose passing would not have been remarked outside their family, workplace, town or village. One such ordinary man was Reginald Paice.
Private R J Paice No 2078, died 28/04/1915 aged 26, serving in C Squadron Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars. Paice is buried at Grave Reference: I. E. 158, Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord. He is listed as the “Son of Walter and Catherine Paice, of Park Farm, Frimley, Surrey” and as a “Native of Sandhurst”.
Bailleul in Northern France became an important railhead, air depot and hospital centre, with the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 11th, 53rd, 1st Canadian and 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Stations quartered there. This links with Paice’s death of wounds.
The 1911 census records him living and working as part of a team of gardeners at Bagshot Park in Surrey
This census return gives a glimpse of a vanishing way of estate and walled garden life, beautifully caught by the BBC Victorian Kitchen and Garden series and in living gardens like Heligan.
At the time Paice was employed as an Undergardener, the Head Gardener was Charles William Knowles (1857-1941) who was Head Gardener at Bagshot Park from 1903 until 1927.
Bagshot Park in Surrey has been owned by royals since Stuart times, then from 1942 the base of army chaplains until it recently became the home and farm estate of Prince Edward and The Countess of Wessex.
There is more about the history and estate staff at http://www.bagshotvillage.org.uk/bpark/index.shtml
Paice features on the Bagshot war memorial. It mentions his job and family:
“Reginald was born in Sandhurst in 1889, the eldest of the seven children of farmer Walter Paice (1859-1923) and his wife Catherine (b 1860). The family moved to Hall Grove Farm, Bagshot, about 1895. Reginald did not follow his father into farming but became an under-gardener in Bagshot Park.”
Farm boys and gardeners like Paice are likely to have had from a young age a good working knowledge of horses, perfect for the Yeomanry / Cavalry.
He is remembered on other local history websites such as the Frimley and Camberley memorial site :
1891 Census – Living at Sandhurst, Berkshire
1901 Census – Living at Hall Grove Farm, Bagshot, Surrey
1911 – Living at Bagshot Park, Bagshot, Surrey, in the 1911 census.
Reginald, aged 21 in 1911, was working as a Gardener at Bagshot Park, which was then the residence of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.
Paice enlisted at Oxford into the local Yeomanry regiment, the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars. His regimental number suggests an enlistment date of September 1914.
Paice’s Squadron was then posted to the B.E.F. in France, disembarking on the 24th of November 1914. His death date suggests actions relating to the Second Battle of Ypres 22 April to 25 May. His service records do not seem to have survived.
Members of his family remember him on http://www.everymanremembered.org/profiles/soldier/201009/
The Oxfordshire Yeomanry or Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (or the “Queer Objects On Horseback”) regiment was formed on the creation of the Territorial Force in April 1908. It was headquartered in Oxford with Paice’s “C squadron” nicknamed the Henley Squadron, being headquartered at Henley-on-Thames (Watlington, Theme and Goring-on-Thames.
There is a brief regimental summary for the QOOH WW1 on Wikipedia, as well as evocative pictures on these following websites, suggesting that these “War Horse” cavalry soldiers spent time digging and manning trenches as the stalemate of trench warfare began and the open war suited to cavalry receded. Churchill had a strong connection to this regiment, along with his brother Jack.
Interestingly Reginald’s brother Walter Gilbert Paice (Private 2350 or 2355) seems to have also been in the QOOH, appearing on the same WW1 service medal roll as his brother. It lists this former farmer’s son embarking for France on 16 April 1915 and being discharged on 26 July 1917 (presumably because of ill health or wounds). He died in 1974.