Private Henry Reains


Henry Reains (or Raines) was born on 14 March 1879 at Church Lane, Donaghadee, County Down, one of at least three children of Margaret Raines (née Stewart). Margaret's husband was railway engineer William John Raines of Bombay, but Henry's birth record does not provide a father's name. Both Margaret and William died before Henry's sixth birthday, and it appears that he was raised by his mother's parents. At the time of the 1901 Census he was living at 20 Moorgate Street, Belfast, with his widowed grandfather Samuel Stewart, a retired farmer, and his sister, and working as a coachman.

On 4 January 1905 Reains married Jane Anna Hill in St Patrick's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. At the time he was working as a fireman in the Belfast Fire Station. (In the following years he was variously described as a fire station driver, coachman, car driver and motorman.) The couple had five children over the next seven years. At the time of the 1911 Census they were living at 16 Moores Place, Belfast, but soon after moved to 15 Combermere Street.

Reains enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 1 October 1914 (No.1241 – later Corps of Hussars No.71296). On 1 May 1915 he embarked for France with D Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 51st Division.

In May 1916 D Squadron came together with A and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Reains remained with the regiment throughout the war, though how much time he spent in France and Belgium and how much at the Antrim reserve camp is not known at present. On 29 April 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He was awarded a pension for a short period of time due to rheumatism, which was attributed to his military service.

After the war Reains returned to Combermere Street and worked as a coachman. He died there on 26 September 1966 at the age of 87 and was buried in the Dundonald Cemetery.