Lance Corporal Reginald Richard Pitts 3858
Dick Pitts was born in Mittagong in 1894, one of Agnes and Frederick Pitts’ twelve children. He grew up on the Tooth family farm at Mittagong, where his father was caretaker, and attended Mittagong Public School. He was a staunch member of Mittagong School of Arts and served in the Citizen Forces for four years before enlisting in October 1915. As he headed off to war, Private Dick Pitts was given a rousing send-off by the staff at Nichols Brothers store in Mittagong where he was working as a shop assistant. He told his friends at the time he would “make a name for himself”.
Dick was an excellent correspondent and wrote regularly to his family and friends. After two months training in Egypt, he sailed with his battalion for France at the end of March 1916. He was severely wounded in July and evacuated to England, but in February 1917 returned to the front and the following month was promoted to Lance Corporal. His courage and bravery in organising a successful assault on enemy trenches and the capture of 48 prisoners at Lagnicourt on 15th April 1917 earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Dick did not live to wear his medal – he was killed in action just 17 days later. General William Birdwood, the popular commander of the Australian forces in France and Belgium, wrote personally to the Pitts family after Dick’s death.
I feel for you so much in this great trouble, while I know what a gallant soldier we have lost, who had won the much coveted Distinguished Conduct Medal for his previous good service. I trust it will always mean something to you and his people to know how gallantly he fought and gave his life for his King and Country.
Dick had indeed made a name for himself.
Two of Dick’s younger brothers, John Stanley and Leslie Thomas also served, joining up in 1918.