Brigadier Gordon Reinhold, who has died aged 94, was that very rare combination, a first-rate staff officer and an outstanding front line commander.
In the late 1930s he was commissioned into the Queen’s Royal Regiment and posted to the 2nd Battalion in Palestine, then engaged in quelling violence by Arab insurgents. On May 19 1939 Reinhold took a patrol into the village of Qaffin where they came under fire. He ordered his Bren gunner to lay down covering fire and gave chase.
On emerging from some olive trees into the open, his group came under heavy fire from 12 men who were concealed from the Bren gunner by the shoulder of a hill. Reinhold was hit in the chest and badly wounded but continued to give orders and withdrew his outnumbered force to safety before collapsing.
After a four-hour drive over rough tracks to the British Military Hospital, Haifa, he was close to death. When he had recuperated, he was summoned by Bernard Montgomery, then a major general and convalescing in the same hospital with a chest infection. Monty told him that he had been awarded an immediate MC for conspicuous gallantry and insisted on pinning the medal ribbon to Reinhold’s dressing gown. On his return to England, Reinhold was invested with the medal by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.
Gordon George Reinhold, of Danish extraction, was born on September 17 1917 at Quetta, Baluchistan. He spent the early part of his life in India, where his father was an officer in the Indian Army, before going to Wellington, where he became head of the OTC.
He recalled afterwards that each day, at reveille, the duty prefect filled four hip baths with cold water and ensured that every boy immersed himself up to the neck. On bitterly cold winter mornings this, Reinhold said, was close to torture.
After leaving school, Reinhold went on to Sandhurst . During the Second World War he commanded a rifle company of the 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment and was then brigade major to 130th Infantry Brigade. He was mentioned in despatches for his involvement in the 43rd Division’s planning for D-Day.
Reinhold’s arrival at Tilbury docks to await a ship to cross the Channel coincided with one of the first V-1 attacks on London, and throughout the night the warehouse where he and his comrades were trying to rest was shaken with constant explosions.
A few days after landing, he was in a Jeep which was being driven by an intelligence officer. They had just moved into a copse to spy out the land when shells began exploding all around them. Reinhold flung himself out of the vehicle and into cover. The other officer was killed still sitting in the driver’s seat.
Reinhold saw fierce fighting in the “breakout” from Normandy and at Arnhem. He was decorated by the Dutch after the liberation of Holland and, in December 1944, he was seconded to the 1st Battalion The Worcester Regiment. He was its acting CO in the forced crossing of the Rhine, the breaching of the Siegfried Line and the drive into Germany’s heartland.
Regulations regarding the behaviour of British soldiers towards civilians were strict. On one occasion Reinhold was told that the search of a farmhouse had revealed the presence of two very attractive, and terrified, young women. He was able to reassure them that they were not about to be raped.
In the advance towards Cuxhaven, his Jeep was crossing over a culvert when it ran over an anti-tank mine. Reinhold and his driver were catapulted into the air. The latter broke both legs. But for the fact that the floor of the vehicle had been lined with sandbags, they would both have been blown to pieces.
After the German surrender, Reinhold was posted back to Palestine as Military Assistant to the C-in-C, General Sir Alan Cunningham. Reinhold returned to England in 1947. He was at the War Office for two years before volunteering for the airborne forces. He commanded a company of the 2nd Parachute Battalion in the Canal Zone and was subsequently second-in-command of the 1st Parachute Battalion in Cyprus in operations against Eoka terrorists and then in the short Suez campaign.
In 1958 he commanded the Battalion in Cyprus. On promotion to brigadier, he took over a formation in the 53rd Welsh Division for a three-year tour. After a final posting as Brigadier General Staff in Singapore, in 1968 he retired from the Army.
Reinhold joined the administrative team of James Capel, stockbrokers. In 1978 he left the firm to take up a voluntary appointment as director of the St John Ambulance Association.
Finally retired and settled in a village in Wiltshire, he enjoyed sailing and gave lectures on the Great Fire of London.
Gordon Reinhold died on October 14. He married, in 1941, Barbara Scriven. The marriage was dissolved and he married secondly, in 1949, Marian Painter. She predeceased him and he is survived by a son from his first marriage and two daughters from his second.
Brigadier Gordon Reinhold, born September 17 1917, died October 14 2011.
Reproduced by kind permission of the Daily Telegraph.Read More