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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Victoria Cross soldier honoured
Scots Guards at Alma - copyright free
Pte Reynold's company attacked an artillery battery at Alma
A Scottish soldier who was thought to be the first private to be awarded the Victoria Cross will be remembered at a special ceremony at Edinburgh Castle.

Private William Reynolds was awarded Britain's highest military honour for his bravery at the Battle of Alma in 1854, during the Crimean War.

He received the medal when they were handed out for the first time in 1857.

A specially commissioned headstone will be dedicated at 1530 BST on Friday and then sent to London to mark his grave.

The headstone features both the Victoria Cross and the Scots Guards' crest alongside details of Pte Reynolds and his heroism.

Heavy fire

Pte Reynolds, from Edinburgh, was a member of No 4 Company, ordered to defend the Regimental Colours and Queen's Colours as they attacked a hillside protected by a Russian artillery battery.

Despite coming under heavy fire, which saw the Queen's Colours shot completely in half after being hit by 24 bullets, Pte Reynolds and his comrades continued to rally the rest of the troops and pressed on up the hill.

Pte Reynolds was one of four members of the party who received the Victoria Cross for gallantry from Queen Victoria in a ceremony in Hyde Park at the end of the war.

His citation read: "When the formation of the line was disordered at Alma, for having behaved in conspicuous manner rallying the men around the colours."

He is a very significant historical figure indeed, and it is sad that his grave was only marked by a small piece of metal that has now almost completely rusted away
Major Iain Job
Scots Guards Association Club

Sergeant James McKechnie, who was honoured in a ceremony in Glasgow earlier this month, was also awarded the Victoria Cross for his role in the same incident.

Pte Reynolds later worked as a banker's messenger in London.

He died in his home in The Strand in 1869, aged just 42 and was buried in a common grave in London's Broakwood Cemetery, marked only with a small metal disc.

The grave was only found after extensive research by the Scots Guards Association and military history group the One O'clock Gun Association.

Falklands veteran, Major Iain Job, president of the Scots Guards Association Club, said the recognition of Pte Reynold's heroism was long overdue.

Victoria Cross medal
Pte Reynolds was among the first to receive the Victoria Cross

Maj Job said: "William Reynolds received his Victoria Cross at the first ever ceremony, and we believe he was the very first private to be awarded the medal.

"He is therefore a very significant historical figure indeed, and it is sad that his grave was only marked by a small piece of metal that has now almost completely rusted away.

"It is very important we remember people like Pte Reynolds and this headstone will be a fitting tribute to him."

The headstone will be on his grave on Friday morning after being sent down to London. It is hoped a plaque bearing Pte Reynold's name will be erected near to his birthplace at 5 Jamaica Street, which still stands, later in the year.

The Battle of Alma was considered the first major battle of the Crimean War. It saw a force of British and French troops rout the Russian army, which lost about 6,000 men.

Tradition has it that Victorian Cross medals were cast out of the bronze of two cannons captured from the Russians at the siege of Sebastopol in the Crimea.




SEE ALSO
Tribute to Scots Crimean War hero
11 Apr 07 |  Glasgow and West
War hero launches bravery stamps
19 Sep 06 |  North East/N Isles
Plaque honours nursing heroine
11 Oct 05 |  London

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