Pte Reginald Herbert Butterfield (document box)



Pte Reginald Herbert Butterfield (document box)


Reginald Herbert Butterfield


A soldier's document box


Reginald Herbert Butterfield was the great uncle of Victoria Wood who now resides in Addingham, Ilkley, West Yorkshire.

Reginald was a Private in the Cameron Highlanders. After a period of training at Ripon, he was sent to France and was killed on the 17th August 1916 after only two days in the trenches. He was the second son of William Priestley Butterfield and Annie Butterfield who resided at Menston Hall, Menston. Reginald had a younger brother, Clifford, who joined the West Yorkshire Regiment. He won a stripe in the first week and a second within a month. He was then offered a Commission which he accepted and became a Lieutenant.

In 1997 it was reported in the Wharfedale Observer and Ilkley Gazette that a French lady, Elise Dolivet had found a mahogany box belonging to Private Reginald Butterfield and this was brought to the attention of her friend, Mrs Elizabeth Owen and her husband Peter (nephew of the war poet Wilfred Owen) when they were in Bazentin-le-Petit, France. The box, which normally is used to hold a soldier’s documents, had a brass plate on it which was inscribed with Reg’s name and on the bottom were the words ‘Greater love hath no man that he lay down his life for his friends’.

Elizabeth Owen appealed to readers after reading Reginald’s will, in which he left all his possessions to his mother and his brother Clifford. He wrote his will on the battlefield on 27th July 1916, three weeks before he died at the age of 24 years.

As a result of the newspaper article, Clifford Butterfield’s daughter Mercia (Reg’s niece) wrote to Mrs Owen and the box was eventually returned to Mercia. It contained personal documents and his last Will and Testament. After Mercia’s death, the box was given to William Priestley Butterfield who then passed it to his son Mark. The box is still in the possession of the Butterfield family and is now treasured by Holly Patrick after being given to her by Mrs Victoria Wood (Reg’s great niece).

To this day, it is not clear how the mahogany box came to be lost but it was found in a field near the village of Bazentin-le-Petit, France where Reginald was killed in 1916.




Bazentin-Le-Petit, France


Victoria Wood

Collection Day

November 3 2018 Menston

This item was submitted on February 6, 2019