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2nd LIEUTENANT REGINALD SECRETAN

REGINALD SECRETAN

By Barbara Chapman

Unusually for me I didn't get around to reading the Gazette of 23 April 2014 till over a week later. I was particularly interested to see the article on the memorial to the Herts. Regiment, with Reginald Secretan seated in the middle.

As Leverstock Green's local historian I am familiar with Reginald's history, along with the many other young men from our village who came from Leverstock Green, and full details of which can be found on my website at: http://lgchronicle20.homestead.com/1914to1918 ParkertoSecretan.html?_=1390739609997

Briefly Reg's war record can be summarized as follows:

 

  • M.T.A.S.C. ( drove a motorbike)
  • enlisted 1914
  • Hertfordshire Regiment
  • KIA at St. Julien July 31st 1917- Herts Regiment -aged 22
  • Memorials:Leverstock Green, Hemel Hempstead,  Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
  • son  of Herbert E. Secretan & Mrs Secretan, The Dells, Bennetts End.(Tile Kiln Lane)

 

The Secretan family had moved to the Bennetts End area of Leverstock Green in 1912. (Ben. End then was the area around Tile Kiln Lane, and not the large area developed as part of the New Town.) The settled in a house called The Dells, off Tile Kiln Lane.    

There were four children Humphrey, Reginald, Marjorie and Esme.    Reggie was  the youngest of the family and according to Reginald & Charles Fair in their book "Marjorie's War", he was " an outgoing friendly lad who enjoyed life and though the youngest and very much 'the apple of his mother's eye'  was by no means spoiled."

   Still at school at Oundle when they moved to Leverstock Green, Reggie was also keen on motorbikes, and at the start of the war the M.A.T.S.C. where he drove a motorbike.

 Reggie’s elder brother also fought in the first war, and was one of three officers from Leverstock Green awarded the Military Cross, and the only one of the three to survive the war.

 Unfortunately The Gazette of the time reported the wrong brother as having been killed in 1917:

 

MRS SECRETAN’S SON KILLED

 We regret to hear  the news has been received of the death in action of  the son of Mr & Mrs Secretan of Bennetts End, Leverstock Green.  The gallant young officer was one of three from Leverstock Green who won the Military Cross.  The other two were Captain Durrant, son of the Vicar of Leverstock Green, and Lieut.. Bessant.  Capt. Durrant met his death some time ago. [Gazette August 11 1917]

 2nd Lieut. R H SECRETAN

 The son of Mr & Mrs Secretan whose death was announced last week, was the youngest son, and not the one who was awarded the MC.  The following notice appeared in “The Times”:

 Second Lieutenant R H Secretan, the Hertfordshire Regiment, killed in action July 31st, aged 22; youngest son of Mr & Mrs Herbert Secretan of Leverstock Green  near Hemel Hempstead and nephew of  the late Henry Richardson of  Marlborough.  He was educated at Hildersham House Broadstairs, and Oundle School.    On the outbreak of war, having just left school, he tried 8 times to enlist, but was rejected for short sight.  Finally he was accepted for the M.T.A.S.C. and went to the front in December 1914.  After serving 18 months in France as Motor Driver and dispatch rider, he came home in August 1916 to take up a commission.  He joined his regiment at the front in January 1917.  The Commanding Officer writes: n He was killed instantaneously while leading his platoon against our final objective.  His men tell me that nothing could have been more gallant than the way in which he led them.  He was always so cheerful and ready to do everything that he was a great favourite with everyone.  There was no braver boy in the whole army.

 A friend writing to his parents says: “I shall never forget your boy in the first days of the war, dashing about the country on his motor bike, entreating to be enlisted anywhere and in any regiment.”  Second Lieutenant R H Secretan was Captain of his house and his housemaster had a “vast regard” for him.  He was very keen on all games, at many of which he excelled.  In his last letter home on his way up to the front he says: “I am awfully bucked with life, I have been given a good job and the men could not have been better.  One of his men said he always took any shelling like a football match.  He loved his men and they loved him.  “A splendid lot” he called them.  The Chaplain writes: One of his men tells me that he rallied his men to the attack on our final objective shouting “Come on No 8” and was instantly shot.  [Gazette August 18th 1917]

 

 Below are a few relevant photographs including one of Reggie in uniform; pictures of the Secretan Grave at Holy Trinity Leverstock Green with a close-up of the inscription for Reggie I also recommend the book "Marjorie’s War" by  Reginald and Charles Fair which charts the life of Reggie’s sister Marjorie during the war via the medium of letters and diaries and includes letters from Humphrey to his sister and mother following Reggie’s death.