Reginald Henry CHAMBERLAIN

Reginald Henry CHAMBERLAIN

Reginald Henry Chamberlain enlisted four times during the First World War.

Per his military service record (regimental no. 3021), Reginald Henry Chamberlain was born at Sydney, N.S.W. He gave his age as 24 years and 5 months (at the time of his 1917 application), his marital status as single, and his occupation as motor mechanic.

He first joined on 5th November 1914, completing his medical at Liverpool on 6th November 1914, and his attestation at Liverpool on 9th November 1914. He stated he had no previous military experience on this application form. However, he was discharged as “unlikely to become an efficient soldier” on 20th November 1914.

He joined again on 7th December 1914, completing his medical and attestation at Liverpool on 9th December 1914. He was discharged on 29th December 1914 with varicocele.

Reginald Henry Chamberlain joined again on 29th July 1915, completing his medical at Sydney on 29th July 1915, and his attestation at Liverpool on 5th August 1915. The date of discharge is not shown for this enlistment period in his service record.

However, he joined again at Parkes, undertaking his medical and attestation at Parkes on 11th October 1915. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 5 ¾ inches tall, weight 123 lbs., with a medium complexion, blue/grey eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Church of England.  He gave his age on this application to enlist form as 22 years and 11 months. Private Chamberlain was one of two recruits (along with Joseph Armstrong who joined at Parkes on the 11th October 1915), who travelled to Dubbo on the morning on Wednesday 13th October 1915, along with three others who entered Dubbo Military Camp (Western Champion, 14/10/1915, p. 18).

It was reported in The Western Champion (21/10/1915, p. 17) that the Parkes Recruiting Association had held a recruiting meeting ‘for the purpose of enrolling recruits who were willing to join the volunteers now on the way, by road, from Gilgandra to Sydney’, and that ‘five men had mounted the lorry in response to the appeal’, and that ‘one of them went on to Dubbo’, with the remaining four planning to proceed to Molong to join the continent.

However, the recruit who was sent to Dubbo by Parkes Recruiting Association to join the Coo-ees is not named anywhere in newspaper reports or in the official correspondence of the march held in the Mitchell Library. It appears one of them (Chamberlain or Armstrong) had a change of heart and decided to join the Coo-ees on their march to Sydney, instead of entering Dubbo Military Camp.

After completing the Coo-ee March Private Armstrong went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion. However, he was discharged again as being medically unfit on 29th November 1915 before a medical board at Liverpool with varicocele.

On his fourth attempt at enlistment, he successfully completed his medical and attestation on 22nd January 1917 in Sydney. On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Sydney, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed (as on his earlier applications to enlist) as his brother William Thomas Chamberlain, 19 Clevedon Road, Parnell, Auckland, N.Z.

Private Chamberlain departed Sydney on the HMAT A24 Benalla on 10th May 1917 as 7th Reinforcement for the 36th Battalion. He disembarked at Plymouth, England on the 19th July 1917. On 20th July he marched into 9th Training Battalion in England.

He proceeded to France on the 27th December 1917 from Southampton.

He marched out to the Front on 30th December 1917. On the 3rd January 1918 he was taken on strength in the 36th Battalion, and re-allocated regimental number 3021A.

He was appointed Lance Corporal on 20th February 1918.

On 30th April 1918 L/Corporal Chamberlain was transferred to the 35th Battalion. He was also wounded in action, being gassed, on the same day, and admitted to the 9th Australian Field Ambulance. He was transferred to the 12th Casualty Clearing Station on 2nd May, then to the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Abbeville on the 6th May 1918.

He embarked for England on 1lth May 1918, and was admitted to Whipps Cross Military Hospital in Leytonstone for shell gas.

He was transferred to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, on 27th May 1918.

He was discharged from hospital on 29th May 1918, then after being granted furlough, marched into No. 4 Command Depot, Hurdcott on 12th June 1918.

On 16th January 1919 he reverted to the rank of Private on being taken on strength of A.M.T.S. (Australian Motor Transport Section) and was mustered as Driver M.T.

He was discharged from the A.I.F. in London on being demobilized on 5th October 1919, but following his request for reinstatement, was then reinstated in the A.I.F. on 27th October 1919.

Private Reginald Henry Chamberlain returned to Australia on 18th December 1919 on the HT Konigin Luise, disembarking in Sydney on 7th February 1919.

He was discharged on 21st March 1920.

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