Reginald Roy SHANKS

SHANKS, Reginald Roy

Service Number: 1876
Enlisted: 8 February 1916, Petersburg (Peterborough), South Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Blanchetown, South Australia, 3 July 1890
Home Town: Blanchetown, Mid Murray, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Mounted Constable
Died: Natural Causes, Repatriation Hospital, Daw Park, South Australia, 13 April 1975, aged 84 years
Cemetery: Cheltenham Cemetery, South Australia
Cheltenham, Charles Sturt City, South Australia, Australia. LWN MEMORIAL ID: 154083909
Memorials: Adelaide Treasurer and Chief Secretary Roll of Honour, Edithburgh WW2 Roll of Honor, Edithburgh War Memorial, Kadina & District WW1 Roll of Honor, Peterborough Uniting Church Porch Memorial Leadlight Window 1, Thebarton S.A. Police Roll of Honor WW1
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World War 1 Service

8 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Petersburg (Peterborough), South Australia
13 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1876, 48th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '19' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Seang Bee embarkation_ship_number: A48 public_note: ''
13 Jul 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1876, 48th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Seang Bee, Adelaide
6 Dec 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 48th Infantry Battalion
13 Apr 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 48th Infantry Battalion
16 Jun 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 48th Infantry Battalion
13 Sep 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 48th Infantry Battalion
1 Jul 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 48th Infantry Battalion, LT Shanks Embarkation on Troop Ship H.T. Frankfurt to Australia on 1st July 1919 and disembarked at Adelaide, South Australia on 17 August 1919.
2 Oct 1919: Discharged AIF WW1
Date unknown: Involvement 48th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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Reginald Roy Shanks was born at Blanchetown, South Australia to Mr and Mrs John and Johanna (nee Headland) Shanks. He worked as a Mounted Constable (the same as his father) and was living in Kadina, South Australia prior to enlistment in 1916. The stated that he was single and his next of kin was is father who was living in Kadina at the time working at the Police Station.

He enlisted on the 8th February 1916 at Petersburg, South Australia and was allocated to the 3rd Reinforcements of the 48th Battalion. He embarked at Adelaide on the 12th July 1916 on HMAT Seang Bee (A48) and disembarked at Plymouth in England on the 9th of September 1916 after which he made his way to the Salisbury Plains and to the mass of Training Camps there. Next day, on the 10th, Reginald Shanks was taken on strength by the 12th Training Battalion where he was introduced and trained in the concept of Trench Warfare.

He proceeded overseas to France on the 20th of November 1916 and reached the France on the 21st of November 1916 where he was reverted to rank of Private (as he had served as a Corporal whilst at sea.) Less than a month later, however, still at depot in Etaples he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.

Finally, on the 21st of December 1916 he was taken on strength by the 48th Battalion. He served with them throughout the New Year and into 1917 rotating between various lines including at Flers in January 1917.

He was promoted to the rank of Corporal on the 13th of April 1917 in the aftermath of the First Battle of Bullecourt, in France on the 11th of April 1917 in which the 48th Battalion had served with distinction, but suffering heavy losses. Once again in June he was promoted to Sergeant and then served with his Battalion in the Third Battle of Ypres, particularly at the Battle of Passchendaele where the unit was once again suffered heavy losses. Sergeant Reginald Shanks and was known as “a useful type of man” to have around in certain situations and as a possible consequence of this the Battalion selected him to attend an Officers Cadet Course in England. He agreed and proceeded back to England where he joined the Cadet Battalion on the 24th of November 1917. He qualified for a commission in an infantry unit with the Number 2 Officers Cadet Battalion on the 3rd of May 1918.

He was commissioned with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on the 1st of June 1918 whilst in England.

Reginald then proceeded back overseas to France on the 11th of June 1918 and eight days later he was taken on strength by the 48th Battalion in the field. Thus Reginald had missed all of the spring fighting to halt the German Spring Offensive in early 1918. When the allied launched their own offensive, which would become known as the ‘Last Hundred Days’ in August 1918, however, Reginald Roy Shanks was with the 48th Battalion. He served in the Battle of Amines (8th – 10th August 1918) and was then promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 1st of September 1918 in the field. In the 48th Battalion’s last action (18th – 20th September 1918) he took part in seizing the Hindenburg “Outpost Line.”

On the 7th of October 1918 he was detached to the Australian Corps School and when he qualified he was appointed the unit’s Gas and Bombing Officer on the 2nd of December 1918.

Perhaps the most infamous event in Lieutenant Shanks AIF career, however, would be an incident that took place on the in February 1919, still whilst in France awaiting disbandment. Together with Lieutenant Herbert Mott (48th Battalion,) he was tasked with tracking down Private, 1485, Percy George Stafford (48th Battalion) a deserter who was described as a most “desperate criminal” armed with a revolver and thought to be responsible for the murder of a civilian in Brussels and threatening an Officer of the 48th Battalion with the revolver. Private Stafford had served with the 48th Battalion but had never been present with the battalion when it was on the front line and had a string of deserting convictions longer than his arm.

The Battalion had receive a tip off suggesting that Private Stafford was in Charleroi. Both Lieutenant Mott and Shanks were order to captured Private Stafford “dead or alive.”  Stafford was spotted by Lieutenant Mott in a cafe in Charleroi and when he was approached and asked to surrender himself he attacked Shanks head on in an attempt to escape. Lieutenant Mott then shot dead private Stafford and the saga was over. His last dying words were recorded as “You Bastards!”

The 48th Battalion’s war diary for 26th of February 1919 concludes “Great commendation is due to Lieut. Shanks and Lieut. Mott for their resource and gameness, and undeniable credit to the Battalion for their original and effective means of capturing and terminating the career of a man who brought discredit to the honourable record of the 48th Battalion.”

In May Lieutenant Shanks was marched out to England for return to Australia and he embarked on HT Frankfurt on the 1st of July 1919 arriving in Adelaide on the 17th of August 1919. He was discharged from the AIF on the 2nd of October 1919. 



British War Medal: 15254

Vicory Medal: 14983


Nathan Rohrlach, 2014.