The AIF Project

Reginald Richard PITTS

Regimental number3858
Place of birthMittagong, New South Wales
SchoolSt Joseph's Convent School, Mittagong, New South Wales
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationShop assistant
AddressMittagong PO, Mittagong, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height6' 2.75"
Weight164 lbs
Next of kinFather, F Pitts, Mittagong PO, Mittagong, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 4 years in the Citizen Military Forces.
Enlistment date13 September 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll5 October 1915
Place of enlistmentHolsworthy, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name20th Battalion, 9th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/37/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A54 Runic on 20 January 1916
Rank from Nominal RollLance Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll20th Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Distinguished Conduct Medal

'For conspicuous gallantry and leadership in charge of a bayonet party attacking enemy positions with considerable success.'
Recommendation date: 25 April 1917

FateKilled in Action 2 May 1917
Age at death from cemetery records22.10
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Frederick and Agnes PITTS

Distinguished Conduct Medal

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He personally led an assault against the enemy's position, and succeeded in capturing 48 prisoners. He set a splendid example to all ranks.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 169
Date: 4 October 1917

Family/military connectionsBrother: 60023 Gunner Thomas Leslie PITTS, 13th Field Artillery Brigade, returned to Australia, 8 July 1919.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 20 January 1916; disembarked Alexandria, 26 February 1916, and marched into Zeitoun Camp.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 27 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 3 April 1916.

Admitted to 26th General Hospital, Etaples, 7 April 1916 (ear); discharged to Base Depot, 16 April 1916.

Admitted to Isolation Hospital, Etaples, 20 April 1916 (mumps); discharged to No 6 Convalescent Depot, 11 May 1916.

Taken on strength, 20th Bn, in the field, 17 May 1916.

Wounded in action, 30 July 1916 (gun shot wound, right thigh), and admitted to 2nd Australian Field Ambulance, and transferred to 3rd Casualty Clearing Station; to 14th General Hospital, Wimereux, 31 July 1916; to England, 2 August 1916, and admitted to 2nd Southern General Hospital, Bristol, 4 August 1916.

Found guilty, Perham Downs, 28 September 1916, of being absent without leave from 3 pm, 20 September, till 3.45 pm, 21 September 1916: awarded 2 days' confined to camp, and forfeiture of 2 days' pay under Royal Warrant.

Taken on strength, 5th Training Bn, 9 October 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 4 February 1917; rejoined Bn, in the field, 20 February 1917.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 6 March 1917.

Admitted to 7th Australian Field Ambulance, 3 April 1917 (influenza); discharged to duty from Divisional Rest Station, 7 April 1917; rejoined Bn, in the field, 7 April 1917.

Awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Reported wounded and missing, 2 May 1917.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 4 December 1917, concluded: 'Previously reported Wounded & Missing in Action, now reported KILLED IN ACTION, 2 May 1917.'Note, Red Cross File: 'No trace Germany. Cert. by Capt. Mills. 10.10.19.'

Statement, 284 Corporal L.M. SMALL, 20th Bn (patient, No 12 General Hospital, Rouen), 9 October 1917: 'I believe R.R. Pitts, D.C.M., to be in England at the present time. He was A. Coy. This was general knowledge of A.Coy. only 3 days ago when I left.'

Second statement, 3983 Pte J. BRIGGS, 20th Bn (No 1 Convalescent Camp, Boulogne), 13 October 1917: 'I knew him quite well, he was in A. Coy. He got hit in the head but he was brought back and sent over to England.'

Third statement, 290 Pte T.W. TIGHE, A Company, 20th Bn, 28 December 1917: 'As far as I can find out from rumour is that he was seen in a shell hole with a wound to the head but at the time he was alive. That was on the 3rd May 1917; any further information seems to be lacking as no one seems to have seen him after the charge started. The Lad's mother has written and asked me for any news so I will send your letter so she will see that you are taking an interest in her misfortune.'

Fourth statement, 289 Sergeant C. THACKERAY DCM, A Company, 20th Bn (patient, No 10 General Hospital, Rouen), 27 April 1918: 'That date of May 2/17 in your book was the time he was wounded at Bullecourt. I dressed his wound for him and bound him up. It was in the head - severe. We were retiring. I had to leave him in a shell hole, but he was nearly dead even then and cannot have lived much longer. "I'm done," he said.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, PITTS Reginald Richard
Red Cross File 2160909R

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