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From Bank to Battlefield

Reginald Clarence Owst Atkinson

Photo of Reginald Clarence Owst Atkinson
 

Reginald Atkinson was a 24 year old clerk at the Commonwealth Bank's Adelaide office when he enlisted on 6 September 1915. In January 1916 he was assigned to the 3rd Reinforcements for the 6th Field Artillery Brigade and left Australia bound for Egypt. While aboard HMAT Themistocles Reginald dropped a message in a bottle over the side. Less than a month later the bottle was found on a beach near Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly point of mainland Australia. The message inside read “Farewell Australia. All well and happy. Gnr R.C.O. Atkinson, Australian Field Artillery” and he requested that the note be forwarded to his mother.

Upon his arrival in Egypt, Reginald joined the newly formed 105th Howitzer Battery and was promoted to Bombardier. The Howitzer guns that he worked with were the largest artillery pieces used by Australians in land battles. Reginald's unit was transferred to France a month after its formation, and first saw action near Armentieres. In May 1916 the Australian artillery was reorganised and the 105th Howitzer Battery became part of the 5th Field Artillery Brigade.

Reginald remained with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade for the next two years, receiving a promotion to Corporal in July 1916, and then to Sergeant the following month. He was involved in the fighting at Passchendaele and Ypres in Belgium as well as at Villers-Bretonneux in France. In December 1918 Reginald was assigned to the Commonwealth Bank's temporary branch in Hurdcott Military Camp, England, working as a clerk.

Reginald was discharged in March 1920. He returned to Australia and resumed work at the Adelaide Office of the Commonwealth Bank.

WWI Service Summary 6 September 1915, enlisted
28 January 1916, embarked HMAT A32 Themistocles, Melbourne
21 March 1920, discharged
Rank Sergeant
Service Number 12171
Age at enlistment 24
Role at Bank Clerk

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