The Flanders Gun – Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Selby Walker D.S.O – Royal Engineers

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During the Second Boer War 1899-1902 Captain Walker was part of Searchlight Section of the Royal Engineers. This role included the operation of searchlight equipment on all twenty of the British Army’s armoured trains under Lord Kitchener.

Walker introduced the motorized engine to the British Army during the Boer War. He gives an account of him buying the car in Cape Town and using it for his daily operations “Several months ago I noticed a locomobile car at Cape Town, and being struck with its simplicity and neatness, bought it and took it up country with me….. It also performed some very useful work in visiting out-stations, where searchlights were either installed or wanted……undoubdtedly the best piece of work done by the car so far was its trial trip with trailer, when it blew up the mines at Klein Nek” (The Romance of Modern Invention by Archiblad Williams).


This account was also used in a Daily Telegraph article in 2001 by David Burgess-Wise

WE think of the car-phone as a modern phenomenon, but it first made its appearance at the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. It was in 1901, during the South African campaign, that the enterprising Captain RS Walker of the Royal Engineers went to war against the Boers with a Locomobile steam car which he had bought in Cape Town. 

Its most daring feat was blowing up the Klein Nek minefield with a dynamo driven off the back tyre. Its usefulness as a communications vehicle was limited: in those pre-radio days the maximum range of the telephone was precisely one mile – the length of the wire linking the car to its base station.”


 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War:

The Queen’s South Africa (QSA) Medal Clasps: Belfast, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Laing’s Nek

The King’s South Africa (QSA) Medal Clasps: South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902

—A copy of Captain R.S. Walker giving evidence of the accidental wounding of a Corporal W. Hayward of Search Light Section 22ndFeb 1902—

Inter war:

By 1904 he was Major and he had qualified as Interpreter in Modern Foreign Language – French 1stClass and by 1909 German 2ndClass. In 1910, he was stationed in Gibraltar.

World War I:

March 1917 became Commander Royal Engineers for

Mentioned in despatches in 1915 and again in 1916 by General Haig. He was temporary Lt. Colonel in 03/06/1916 and awarded D.S.O for Distinguished Service in the Field. In 1917 he was mentioned in despatches again “Mentioned in Despatches by General Sir Douglas Haig, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France, to the Secretary of State for War, for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty.” Again, in September 1917 mentioned in despatches and acting Battalion Lt. Colonel.

Killed 30thSeptember 1918 age 46 part of VI Corps probably killed after the Second Battle of Bapaume (31stAugust-3rdSeptember 1918) during subsequent Allied attacks. Possibly killed at Battle of Canal du Nord 27thSept-1stOct 1918, a battle that saw twelve Victoria Cross’ awarded.

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The Flanders Gun

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