Reginald George Cannon was born in 1894 at Stanmore.
His parents were George & Eleanor (nee Kerruish).
Reginald was the eldest of 3 children. He had 2 brothers. He was educated at the Mosman Superior Public School. He did not marry.
Reginald enlisted on 20 June 1915. He stated he was still serving in the 17th Infantry (militia).
He recorded occupation as clerk and address as 76 Belmont Road, Mosman.
He was short and slight being 5ft 6in (168cm) tall; weighed 126lb (57kg); chest 30½ – 34½in (77-88cm). He had no distinguishing marks; a fair complexion, blue eyes, black hair; and was Church of England.
He was assigned Service Number 1529 and attached to 1st Reinforcements for the 30th Battalion which was part of the 8th Brigade of the 5th Division.
The SMH article headed Recruiting of 9 Jul 1915 stated:
“Mr. R. G. Cannon, prior to his departure on active service, was given several presents by the officers and staff of the A.G.L. Company. The secretary, Mr. R. J. Lukey, made the presentations.”
War Service: Egypt:
Reginald departed Sydney on HMAT Beltana on 9 Nov 1915 for Egypt, arriving at Suez on 11 Dec.
He joined A Company of 30th Bn at Tel-el-Kebir on 15 Feb 1916.
At this time there was a reorganisation of the AIF with the formation of the new 5th Division. This was somewhat controversial as not only was the Division formed by new units that had not fought at Gallipoli, but also by breaking up and taking half the personnel of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades.
Reginald’s Battalion was part of the 8th Brigade and he transferred to its Machine Gun Company (named 8th MG Coy) on 14 Mar.
Over the next 3 months Reginald’s unit was employed either in the trenches defending the Suez Canal or in training exercises.
War Service: Western Front:
Reginald’s unit departed Egypt on 16 Jun arriving in Marseilles on 23 Jun 1916. They then went north by train to Morbecque 30 km west of Armentieres arriving on 26th.
After a very short acclimatisation they went into the front line on 10 Jul for 4 days before being moved a few km south.
On 19 Jul they were part of the notorious Battle of Fromelles. The Company’s task was to move forward with the 4th wave & set up defensive machine gun positions in the captured German trenches. This was done but they withdrew the next day as part of the overall withdrawal and they covered the infantry withdrawal. They successfully ensured no guns were captured by the enemy. For the rest of the month Sections of the Company were rotated between the front and support lines. Casualties for the month were 13 killed, 8 missing and 32 wounded. The infantry battalions had suffered appalling casualties.
For the next 2 months this front quietened down and the Company continued to rotate Sections through the forward trenches.
Then in the middle of October the 5th Division, reinforced after the Fromelles disaster, moved south to the Somme area. The 8th MG Coy moving into the trenches at Mametz Wood on 22 Oct.
During that freezing Somme winter, the Company followed the previous routine of rotating the Sections between the various front and support lines with consistent minor casualties.
Major news for Reginald was his promotion to Corporal on 25 Nov and then again to Sergeant on 1 Feb 1917.
With the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in late Feb, the 8th MG Coy advanced to Bapaume with continued support to the infantry.
In April the Company was temporarily attached to the 2nd Division and trained for what would become the 2nd Battle of Bullecourt which commenced 3 May. The extra machine guns were used in lieu of the unreliable tanks but the battle had limited success and large infantry casualties. Reginald’s unit had minor casualties and rejoined the 8th Brigade on 9 May.
Until the end of July the Brigade was resting and training west of Albert until 29 Jul when they entrained for the northern Flanders area of France arriving 31 Jul 10km west of Hazebrouck.
The unit spent time training and preparing for the Battle of Polygon Wood which commenced on 26 Sep. 8th MG Coy suffered 12 killed and 47 wounded (out of a strength of 237) during this successful attack.
The unit continued rotating Sections through the trenches until withdrawing on 28 Oct for rest and refit before returning to the Messines sector on 15 Nov.
Here the unit was constantly rotating Sections through the front line.
6 Dec 1917 was a relatively quiet day with some enemy shelling with “very little result”. Unfortunately Reginald was killed on this day, the only unit casualty for the whole month.
On 8 Jan 1918 SMH Roll of Honour notice stated:
“CANNON.-Killed in action, December 6, 1917, Reginald George 8th Machine Gun Company, (late 30th Battalion), eldest son of G. H. and E. E. Cannon, Tynwald, 70 Belmont-road, Mosman, and grandson of William Holden Kerruish, of Stanmore in his 24th year. Loved by all. A good life, nobly ended”
On 15 Jan 1918 SMH War Casualties notice stated:
“Mr. G. H. Cannon, of the staff of the Legislative Assembly and Mosman, has been advised that his eldest son, Reginald George, of a machine gun company, has been killed in action. Prior to enlisting he was employed by the Australian Gaslight Company. A brother is in France.”
His brother William served in France and returned safely.
His mother died in 1928, and his father in 1945.
Reginald is also commemorated on the Concord War Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park; and the Mosman War Memorial in Alan Border Oval.