Reeve Ronald H. Pte 14418040
Name Reeve Ronald Hubert
Army number 14418040
Date of birth Born 21/2/1925 - registered at Headington, Oxfordshire. Mother's maiden surname Ridge.
Age 80 at the time of his death.
Unit Served in the Local Defence Volunteers from the age of 14. Enlisted - volunteered - into the General Service Corps 18/1/1943 - just prior to his 18th birthday. Underwent Basic training at No. 59 Primary Training Centre. Transferred to the Highland Regiment 15/4/1943, possibly for advanced Infantry Training. Transferred to the Gordon Highlanders 16/6/1943. Transferred to the Black Watch 16/4/1944. Posted to the 1st Tyneside Scottish 16/4/1944. Served Normandy. Posted to the 5th Battalion Black Watch on the disbandment of 70th Brigade. Served North Western Europe. Left the Black Watch 30/9/1947. Relegated to the Class Z Army Reserve 30/9/47, authority IRO/Rels/158/47. Demobilised.
Company/Battery Not yet known.
Platoon or other sub-unit Not yet known.
Task or role Infantryman. PIAT gunner. For details of this weapon please click  here.
Joined Brigade 16/4/1944.
Wounded Not so far as is known.
Prisoner of War Not so far as is known.
Died/Killed in action Death registered July 2005, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire.
Home address At the time of the 1939 General Register he lived with his family at 66, Ridgefield Rd. Cowley Rd. Oxford, and worked as a Cabinet Maker's Clerk. In October 1949 he married Ruth L. Ponting at Ploughley, Oxfordshire.
Source table 1TS
An article in the Regimental Journal - "The Red Hackle" by [Dr Tom Renouf http://70brigade.newmp.org.uk/wiki/Renouf_Thomas_J._Cadet_14427465] concerning Private Reeve is set out below.
A REUNION TOO LATE
In April 2009 I received a phone call from a Bob Reeve asking me if I knew anything about his father who had served in the 5th Battalion. I have received several such enquiries in the past, but seldom was I able to help. The 5th Battalion suffered massive casualties in action and had been reinforced many times over. The chance of knowing any one comrade personally is very slim.
In this case I responded without hesitation saying that there was a Reeve in our company but I thought that he had been killed during the War. Bob assured me his father had survived the war but had died some years ago. When I described our Reeves to him he said that I was describing his father, so he offered to send me a photograph.
After 65 years the name Reeves was still on my mind. My great friend Dave Reid of 5BW and I had discussed the matter several times before Dave died a few years ago. Dave had a superb memory and was seldom wrong. He was sure that Reeves had been killed, but I was not convinced and although I do not remember seeing him in Steyerberg after the war, I do not remember any talk of him having been killed. To add to the confusion, there was a Reeve on the Roll of Honor in the Spirit of Angus with an army number that could well have matched our man and he was killed three weeks before the war ended.
When the photograph, taken a few years after the war arrived, all doubt was removed, this was our Private Reeves of “A” company. The photograph also showed his name to be Ronald H Reeve and not Reeves as we always called him. His date of birth identified him in the 19 to 20 age group during the European Campaign, similar to that of the Private Reeves killed in action.
I was able to tell Bob quite a bit about his father. He was quiet, friendly, never said much, but was always there. He was the PIAT man in “A” company, tall, strong, and self reliant. After three nights in the Ardennes in 20 degrees of frost we made an attack on the crossroads at Hubermont village about four miles beyond La Roche. We thought we would die from the cold and were saved by the rum ration in the early hours. At daybreak we had just taken our objective when we heard an enemy tank approaching and, with morale at its lowest and caught in the open with no cover, there was a bit of panic. We were severely trounced by Major Mathews, our Company Commander, and ordered into defensive positions. On his own initiative Reeve lay down at the side of the road out in front on his own, facing the enemy. As the vehicle approached, we saw it was a half track with six or eight German paratroopers on board, all armed with automatics. Reeve lying by the roadside with his piat was an obvious threat to them and a priority target – his chances of survival were going to be very slim. He never flinched, remained at the ready, and as the enemy passed all guns blazing Reeves heroically fired his PIAT at close range and damaged the vehicle badly but it sped on at speed to the crossroads where it came under small arms fire and one of the Paras fell to the ground, fatally wounded. It then passed No. 8 Platoon caught in the open, devoid of cover and raked the area with machinegun fire. Several comrades were injured and one died on the way back to the Aid Post. The half track sped off at speed back to the German lines, taking with it a kind of admiration for the audacity, drive, and resolve of the crew. Reeve somehow survived unscathed and was regarded as quite a hero in “A” company as word of his brave action spread around.
Bob was most proud to learn about his father’s bravery. Like many others, Dad had told him very little about the war though he had written poetry about it. Bob did, however, suspect that his Dad had been affected by bottling up his feelings. I could only comment that as I remembered him he appeared to be calmer and more cool in action than most and that he dealt with the stress of battle very well. I could only assume that he was later wounded; possibly in the ferocious battles for Gennep or Goch for I cannot remember seeing much of him after that.
In a later conversation, Bob told me more about his father. Ronald Reeve joined the Army straight from school and had landed on D-Day with “A” company of 5 BW. He had been right through the Normandy campaign. For a nineteen year old to experience the carnage of the attack on Breville and the butchery that occurred at Chateau St. Côme with comrades all around being killed and suffering the agonies of battle, plunged the innocence of youth into a nightmare of slaughter.
This nightmare went on for an eternity of 12 weeks during which the bloodbath of Colombelles demolished the Battalion and left the straggling Jocks comatose. Bob thought that the Normandy experience left his father permanently scarred.
Reeve soldiered on through the North Brabant offensive and the Ardennes ordeal to “Operation Veritable,” the grandstand battle for the Rhineland. This involved the battalion in fighting almost as intense as Normandy. The resistance of the German Paras in Gennep caused the Battalion heavy losses and served as a timely foretaste for what was to follow. The inferno of Goch, a strongpoint in the Siegfried Line, was never to be forgotten. 5 BW somehow penetrated to the centre of the town undetected and then all hell broke loose. The Germans defending their homeland fought fanatically, the battle lasted 12 days and involved 3 Divisions before the town was cleared.
Ronald Reeve survived all this as he did the Rhine crossing and the battles that followed. He went on leave at the very end of the war but never came back to the Battalion. He was transferred to a transport unit as he was returning from leave. Bob was sure that not getting back to 5 BW was a bitter blow to him. Of all the comrades in “A” company who landed with Ron on D-Day only one other survived to the end.
It is always a joy to make contact with an old comrade and a reunion with our Reeve after all these years would have been rather special, but it was not to be. In this instance the contact was with the family, nevertheless it was most rewarding to learn that a comrade, thought to have perished had, in fact, survived. From experience I know that families derive a great sense of fulfillment and pride when they learn things that they did not know about Dad’s War. For the Reeve family it must have been a wonderful revelation to learn that their Father was regarded by his comrades as a hero – what greater praise could there be.
Bob Reeve made contact with me through the 51st Highland Division website. A full report of the battle for Hubermont is given there.
Dr. Tom Renouf MM