Photo Gallery



William James REINHOLD

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Sgt 29996 24y9m 2 Aug 1915 15 Nov 1915 AIF 5

Lieutenant Colonel William James Reinhold, OBE, MC, MID (1889 - 1966)


Family background and early life

William James Reinhold was born on 6 November 1889 at Clayfield, Brisbane, second child of Gustav Theodor Emanuel Reinhold, a draftsman from England, and his Irish-born wife Mary Jane, née Kerlin.  Bill attended Brisbane Central School and gained a scholarship to attend Brisbane Grammar School from 1903 to 1908 where he captained the First XI cricket team.  After a short period as a schoolteacher at Kangaroo Point he entered the University of Queensland where he graduated in 1916 with Bachelor of Civil Engineering.  

Service with British Royal Engineers

Selected to join the British Army and serve with the Royal Engineers, he sailed to England and was commissioned on 15 January 1916.

While serving on the Western Front with the 90th Field Company, Bill Reinhold was wounded three times, mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Cross.  He was promoted temporary Lieutenant in February 1917, transferred to the Tank Corps six months later and made acting Captain in August 1918.

Return to Australia

Although he was recommended for a commission in the regular army because of his 'ability, energy and daring', he decided to return to Australia in 1919.


On 18 September that year at the Wharf Street Congregational Church, Brisbane, where Rev. Stanley Morrison was the Minister, he married Gladys Isabel Petrie, daughter of the late James Petrie, Solicitor and Annie Maria Petrie née Harris.  Sadly, Mrs Gladys Reinhold, aged 47, died in Toowoomba in 1939 after a period of illness.  Their adopted son died in 1959.


Bill Reinhold worked as an Engineer with the Department of Public Lands. He then became Supervising Engineer for the Main Roads Board, which involved travel by pack-horse to determine where roads would be built through tropical forests in North Queensland.

In 1923 he set up as a Consultant Engineer, operating from his Clayfield home.  Next year he was elected a member of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.  His personality, diligence and willingness to travel enabled him to collaborate with thirty-seven local authorities in Central and Southern Queensland.  Although he mainly designed and constructed roads and bridges, he also handled industrial and community projects.

World War II

In the Australian Army Ordnance Corps (Militia) in August 1941, Major Reinhold was transferred in the following month to the Royal Australian Engineers and appointed Commanding Engineer, Northern Command.  He was called up for full-time duty on 6 October and promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 12 January 1942.  Posted to the 5th Division in March, he joined the Australian Imperial Force on 27 July.  In September he was posted to Milne Force (later the 11th Division), Papua, as Commanding Engineer.  For the drive, technical knowledge and leadership he displayed at Milne Bay, he was appointed OBE. (1943).

In February 1943 Lieutenant Colonel Reinhold supervised the construction of a 68-mile (109 km) road between Bulldog, Papua, and Wau, New Guinea, a strategically important supply line.  About 2,000 Australian soldiers and 1,500 Papuans laboured in rugged country and frequent heavy rain; most days were torrid, some nights were icy cold; every foot of progress demanded courage, endurance, skill and toil.

The road was almost completed by September when General Sir Thomas Blamey ordered W. J. Reinhold to take home leave.  From November 1943, Reinhold served on the staff of the Chief Engineer, New Guinea Force, Port Moresby.  In January 1944 he took command of a works unit in the Wau area and supervised the construction of a road to Labu.  They cut the road with pick axes and dynamite over a period of eight months.

Chief Engineer W. J. Reinhold later wrote: 

“Every foot of progress made on the road exacted the ultimate in courage, endurance, skill and toil. Its construction took a toll from surveyor, engineer, labourer and native carrier alike.”

During five months of operation over 70% of the 2/1 Australian Field Company contracted malaria.  Bill Reinhold returned to Australia in May and was transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 18 November on medical grounds. His accounts of his road-building projects were published as The Bulldog-Wau Road (Brisbane, 1946) and The Wau-Labu Road (Port Moresby, 1977).


At St John's Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane, on 2 January 1946 Reinhold married Jean Elaine Barlow, a 42-year-old music teacher.  His consulting business continued to thrive.  A tallish man, with 'flint-like blue eyes', he belonged to Legacy, and was honorary consultant to Brisbane Grammar and Brisbane Girls' Grammar Schools (which his nephews and nieces attended, with his encouragement and financial support).  


In 1964 he retired. He had been a keen cricketer in his youth; in later life he played golf and went boating on Moreton Bay.  His other interests included music, opera, theatre and literature.  Survived by his wife, he died on 27 August 1966 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Greenslopes.

Select Bibliography
• Raymond L. Whitmore & G. Cossins, Eminent Queensland Engineers,  Institution of Engineers, Brisbane, 1984
• P. J. Greville, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 16, 2002
• Brisbane Grammar School Archives, The Golden Book
The Brisbane Courier, Brisbane,  4 October 1919
The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, 24 December 1943
• Archives of Australia, military papers and records
• Australian War Memorial, 056487
• William James Reinhold Collection, Fryer Library, University of Queensland
The Queenslander, Brisbane, 17 January 1903
• State Library of Queensland
Queensland Times, Ipswich, 3 June 1910

N. E. Adsett, Brisbane.   August 2014 ©



SLQ Historypin – Linking our digital stories to the world.

The Lives, Links and Legacy Stories are being shared through the State Library of Queenland's QANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation Historypin Hub. Visit this site:

Know anything about this person or want to contribute more information?

Please contact Miriam at