Harsh conditions in the Gallipoli trenches worsened James Reineker's health to the point he could not fight on.

Name: Thomas James Reineker

Date of birth: November 7, 1891

Place of birth: Wagga

Link to Wagga: Birthplace

Date of enlistment: January 14, 1915

Age at enlistment: 23 years 2 months

Occupation: Labourer

Religion: Church of England

Next of kin: Mother, Fanny Reineker, Oura

Battalion or Regiment: 13th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement

Battlefields: Gallipoli

Outcome: Returned to Australia, ‘Star of Victoria’, February 29, 1916

Thomas James Reineker, known as James, was the eldest of six children born to Laurence and Fanny (née Laney) – Elsie Joanna Layla (b.1897), Leslie Laurence(b.1902), Eileen Muriel (b.1906), Albert Henry (b.1908), Thelma May (b.1911).

Laurence, although born at Berrima, NSW, had lived in Wagga his whole life, and died there in 1945, aged 79.

Fanny, who predeceased him by seven years, was born in Wagga.

Laurence’s parents – Franziskus ‘Franz’ or ‘Francis’ Reineker and Johanna Bayer were both born in Thalheim, Wurttemberg, Germany, and emigrated to Australia in 1855.

Their last three children were born in Wagga, where Franz worked as a stone mason, who left ‘behind him a striking memorial of his handicraft in many of the buildings of the town.’

James enlisted shortly after the declaration of war, and joined his unit at Gallipoli in May, 1915.

The 13th Battalion AIF was raised just six weeks after the outbreak of WWI, with recruits drawn from across NSW.

From May to August, 1915, the battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the Anzac front line.

As part of the 4th Brigade, the men of the 13th battalion were involved in the attack on Hill 971 (6-10 August).

On the last day of this battle, James was admitted to one of the hospitals on the Peninsula, suffering from pyrexia, a fever of undetermined origin.

James had a short-lived military career.

While his comrades of the 13th remained on Gallipoli until the December evacuation, he was transferred to St. George’s Hospital in Malta on August 16.

From there, he was moved to St. Patrick’s Hospital, before embarking for England on September 7.

On admittance to the 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham, England, James was diagnosed with rheumatism.

The following month, his medical report from the Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield read:

Patient suffers with pains all over body feels very sore walking, unable to

sleep at night owing to pains in joints. Always feels worse at night.

His Medical Report on an Invalid, completed in November, 1915, stated that his

disability originated during his active service on Gallipoli:

Four months in trenches – joints of fingers swollen. High temperature 104.

Has been suffering with rheumatism for past seven or eight years.

Rheumatism was just one of the common ailments caused by the environmental conditions during World War I.

While the cold ground of the trenches caused illnesses like haemorrhoids, the inability of soldiers to stand up straight in the trenches caused widespread rheumatism.

As a result of his rheumatism, which made his fingers stiff and painful, James was repatriated home to Australia, where, on July 4, 1916, he was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit.

On March 15, 1921, James married Elsie Mabel Charlotte Donahee at the Baptist House, Temora.

They had six children, and divorced on April 21, 1942.

James died in West Wyalong on June 9, 1952.


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