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William Reinhold

The University of Queensland is one tangible link that connects us to the past, reminding me how close we still are to the events that I am writing about.

I mentioned that I read Colonel Reinhold's paper but didn't say who he was, or how his papers came to be in the Fryer Library.

William James Reinhold was born on 6 November 1889 in Clayfield, a suburb of Brisbane, the son of Gustav Reinhold, an English draftsman and his Irish born wife Mary Jane. Bill Reinhold was educated at Brisbane Grammar and the University of Queensland, which awarded him a BE (Civil) in 1916.

He was one of ten engineering graduates recommended by Australian universities in a response to an appeal from the British Army. Commissioned a lieutenant in the British Army in 1916, he joined its 90th Field Company, which was sent to the Western Front and participated in the Somme Campaign that year. He was wounded in action three times, promoted to captain, mentioned in dispatches and won the Military Cross for gallantry, the highest decoration that a junior officer could aspire to after the Victoria Cross. In January 1918 he was transferred to the Tank Corps.

The British Army offered him a regular commission but he declined and returned to Queensland, where he got married, and became an engineer with the Department of Public Lands. Later he became a supervising engineer for the Department of Main Roads, travelling the tropical forests of north Queensland to decide where roads should be located. In 1923, he set up his own consulting firm, W. J. Reinhold and Partners but still did considerable work for the Queensland government. He built bridges, roads, and sugar tramlines.

In 1941 he was commissioned in the Australian Army Ordnance Corps as a major, and soon after transferred to the Engineers. The next year he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and given command of the engineers of the 11th Division, at Milne Bay in New Guinea. There he overcame extremely difficult conditions of terrain, of weather, and shortages of manpower, equipment and labour to put in a workable road network. For this he was awarded the Order of the British Empire.

Since he'd been able to perform the impossible at Milne bay, General Blamey tapped him as the man to perform a miracle at Bulldog: construct a road from Bulldog to Wau, through 78 miles of uncharted mountains and near impenetrable jungle. Yes, uncharted. There were no maps of the area. No aerial photographs either. Neither really began to appear until after the road was well underway. It seems that General Blamey had carefully considered Reinhold's record, both military and civilian, which in retrospect seem to have fitted him for just such a post.

When it was complete, the War Correspondents called it the "Miracle Road". General Blamey had another name for it: the "Reinhold Highway".

After leave in Australia on General Blamey's orders, he returned to New Guinea to build the Wau to Labu Road, thereby crossing New Guinea by road. Reinhold retired from the Army on medical grounds in 1944. General Blamey, ever the regular Army man, wrote to him personally to thank him for what he had done, and implored him not to forget the Army after the war.

Reinhold remarried in 1946 (his first wife having died in 1939), and went on to run a successful consulting business. In 1946, he gave a lecture on the Reinhold Road at the University of Queensland. Retiring in 1964, he spent his time playing golf and boating on Moreton Bay.

In 1966 he died and was cremated after a service at St Mark's, Clayfield.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
kerravonsen
16th Oct, 2003 23:37 (UTC)
Re: Reinhold
And all this reminds us of something which we should not forget: It's people who make history.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )