Reginald Applin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Vincent Kempenfelt Applin, DSO, OBE (11 April 1869 – 5 April 1957) was a British military officer who took a prominent part in the development of machine gun tactics in the British Army. He later entered politics, initially in two minor right wing parties before becoming a Conservative Party member of parliament.[1]

British North Borneo Company[edit]

He was the eldest son of Captain Vincent Jesson Applin, Military Train, of "Exeview", Alphington, near Exeter.[2] Following education at Sherborne School, he initially sought employment as a stage actor.[1] However, in December 1889 he became a cadet with the British North Borneo Company.[1][2] He continued to serve in the company's administration of the protectorate, becoming successively a police magistrate and justice of the peace for Labuan and a District Officer. He was involved in the suppression of the Mat Salleh Rebellion from 1895–1897 and was awarded The British North Borneo Company's Medal and clasp.[2][3] After eight years service Applin had reached the rank of Captain Superintendent in the British North Borneo Armed Constabulary, but was forced to resign due to ill health and returned to England.[4] He wrote an account of his years in North Borneo entitled Across the Seven Seas.[1]

Military service[edit]

Second Boer War[edit]

In November 1898 Applin obtained a commission as a captain in the 6th (Militia) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.[4] With the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1899 the battalion was mobilised and sailed to South Africa. He was appointed District Commissioner at Bloemfontein in June 1900 and acting Provost-Marshal for the Orange River in October of the same year. He subsequently saw active service in the Cape Colony, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal,[2] and was twice mentioned in despatches.[5][6] In April 1902 he was granted the local rank of Captain in the Army whilst serving with a provisional battalion,[7] and the following August he transferred to the Royal Garrison Regiment.[8] He was made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in October 1902.[9] The following year he was appointed Brigade Major of Royal Artillery at Gibraltar.

Development of machine gun tactics[edit]

In July 1905 he transferred to the 14th (King's) Hussars.[10] In August of the same year he was seconded to the General Staff and was appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant General for Musketry in Malta.[2][11][12] In December 1906 Applin returned to his regiment,[13] and in June 1911 promoted to major.[14] During this period he was involved in developing tactics for the use of the machine gun, and in 1909 published one of the first books on the subject, Machine Gun Tactics.[1][2][15]

First World War[edit]

During the First World War Applin became an instructor in the use of the machine gun, and was attached to the Machine Gun Corps Training Centre in July 1916.[16] In November 1916 he was appointed temporary lieutenant-colonel, and commanded the machine guns of the II ANZAC Corps at the battles of Messines and Passchendaele.[2] With the entry of the United States into the war, Applin was part of a British mission to the country, and gave lectures on machine gun tactics.[1][2] He remained with the MGC until July 1919.[17][18]

In January 1919 Applin was given the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel and in February was made commanding officer of the 14th Hussars.[2] He retired from the army in January 1921.[19]


With the ending of his military career, Applin entered politics. After making two unsuccessful attempts to enter parliament with minor parties, he became the Conservative MP for Enfield.

Dartford by-election 1920[edit]

Applin was originally a member of the National Party, a xenophobic party that broke away from the Conservatives in 1917. He stood at the parliamentary by-election at Dartford in April 1920. The party came in a poor fourth place, with Applin losing his deposit. The intervention of the National Party and an Independent candidate split the Conservative vote and allowed John Edmund Mills of the Labour Party to secure an unexpected victory.[20][21] The National Party was disbanded a year later.[22]

Abbey by-election 1921[edit]

In August 1921 a parliamentary byelection was held for the constituency of Westminster Abbey. Applin stood as the candidate of Anti-Waste League, a right-wing party formed by Lord Rothermere in opposition to the spending plans of the Lloyd George Coalition government. Such was the unpopularity of the government that all three candidates, including the winner Brigadier-General John Nicholson of the Conservative Party (who formed part of the coalition), claimed to be "anti-waste". Applin finished in second place, receiving 34.9% of the votes cast.[23][24]

Member of Parliament for Enfield[edit]

In September 1924 Applin was chosen as the Conservative Party's candidate to contest the north London seat of Enfield.[25] The seat had been won by William Henderson of the Labour Party at the general election of 1923. When a further election was held in October of that year, he was elected with a majority of 2,079 votes in a straight fight with Henderson.[26] At the next general election in 1929, Applin again faced Henderson as well as a Liberal candidate.[27] Henderson regained the seat for Labour by the narrow margin of 258 votes.[28] Following the collapse of the minority Labour Government, a National Government was formed in August 1931 and an election was held in October of the same year. Applin was the Conservative and National Government candidate, and was returned to the Commons when he defeated his Labour opponent by the large majority of 10,886 votes.[29] He retired from parliament at the 1935 general election.

Later life[edit]

In 1935 he emigrated to South Africa. He died at his home in Howick, Natal in April 1957 aged 87.[1] His medals were auctioned in 2009.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Obituary: Lieut.-Col. R. V. K. Applin. An Adventurous Life". The Times. 11 April 1957. p. 12. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Lancashire Fusiliers". Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "The Boer War D.S.O. and Great War O.B.E. group of six awarded to Lieutenant-Colonel R. V. K. Applin, 14th Hussars". Invalubale Auction Listings. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "No. 27025". The London Gazette. 22 November 1898. p. 6941. 
  5. ^ "No. 27353". The London Gazette. 10 September 1901. p. 5961. 
  6. ^ "No. 27459". The London Gazette. 29 July 1902. p. 4849. 
  7. ^ "No. 27433". The London Gazette. 13 May 1902. p. 3179. 
  8. ^ "No. 27465". The London Gazette. 15 August 1902. p. 5333. 
  9. ^ "No. 27490". The London Gazette. 31 October 1902. p. 6906. 
  10. ^ "No. 27818". The London Gazette. 18 July 1905. p. 4984. 
  11. ^ "No. 27834". The London Gazette. 8 September 1905. p. 6126. 
  12. ^ "No. 27837". The London Gazette. 19 September 1905. p. 6329. 
  13. ^ "No. 27984". The London Gazette. 8 January 1907. p. 190. 
  14. ^ "No. 28512". The London Gazette. 11 July 1911. p. 5171. 
  15. ^ Horn, Bernd; Harris, Stephen John (2001). Warrior chiefs: perspectives on senior Canadian military leaders. Dundurn Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-55002-351-0. 
  16. ^ "No. 29817". The London Gazette. 7 November 1916. p. 10834. 
  17. ^ "No. 29892". The London Gazette. 5 January 1917. p. 285. 
  18. ^ "No. 31468". The London Gazette. 22 July 1917. p. 9330. 
  19. ^ "No. 32190". The London Gazette. 12 January 1921. p. 350. 
  20. ^ "By-Election Results. Labour Triumph At Dartford". The Times. 12 April 1920. p. 15. 
  21. ^ Debrett's House of Commons and the Judicial Bench illustrated with 500 armorial engravings (PDF). London: Dean & Son. 1922. p. 229. Retrieved 12 May 2009. 
  22. ^ "End Of The National "Party." Changed Title And Status". The Times. 20 April 1921. p. 7. 
  23. ^ Cook, Chris; Ramsden, John (1997). By-elections in British politics. Routledge. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-85728-535-2. 
  24. ^ Morgan, Kenneth O (1986). Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918-1922. Oxford University Press. p. 245. 
  25. ^ "Parliamentary Candidates". The Times. 11 September 1924. p. 14. 
  26. ^ "The General Election. First Returns". The Times. 30 October 1924. p. 6. 
  27. ^ ""Inscrutable New Electorate." Prospects In Northern London Suburbs". The Times. 28 May 1929. p. 8. 
  28. ^ "The General Election. First Returns". The Times. 31 May 1929. p. 7. 
  29. ^ "The General Election. First Returns". The Times. 28 October 1931. p. 7. 

External links[edit]

External image
Gravestone of Lt. Col. Applin at St George's Garrison Church, Fort Napier, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Henderson
Member of Parliament for Enfield
Succeeded by
William Henderson
Preceded by
William Henderson
Member of Parliament for Enfield
Succeeded by
Bartle Brennen Bull