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Captain REGINALD HASTINGS HASTINGS
(formerly Reginald Hastings Frankenberg)
Royal Irish Regiment

by

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2003. All Rights Reserved.

1. INTRODUCTION

Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from the officer’s service papers obtained from The National Archives at Kew, Richmond, Surrey. Captain Hasting's service papers were located in the National Archives file WO 339/15969.

2. EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY INFORMATION

Reginald Hastings Frankenberg was born at Sliema in east Malta, a town located to the northwest of the city of Valletta, on the 7th of December 1890. Reginald was the son of Company Sergeant Major (Engineer Clerk) Rudolph Frankenberg of the Supernumerary Staff of the Royal Engineers and his wife Jane Frankenberg (nee Parker). Rudolph Frankenberg was the son of Adolphus Frankenberg, a merchant. Jane Parker was a widow and the daughter of Luke M'Evoy.

The Frankenbergs were married at Malta on the 30th of June 1887[1] and Reginald was their second child. Their first child, Gerald Baptist Frankenberg, also was born on the island of Malta on the 20th of July 1888.

Reginald's father was posted home from Malta in January of 1891. The family arrived in Dublin on the 22nd of January and remained there for just over four years. Reginald's father was assigned abroad again at the end of his tour of duty in Ireland and on the 11th of March 1895 the family sailed for Bermuda. While the Frankenbergs were on the island of Bermuda, Reginald attended Watlington College.[2]

The Frankenbergs returned to Ireland on the 2nd of December 1901 and lived at 14 Sandford Avenue, S.C. Road in Dublin. Reginald was 11 years old when his father was posted to Dublin for the second time.

Reginald would have three additional siblings born to his parents after the Frankenbergs left Malta and while his father was still in the Army. His sister Patricia was born in Dublin on the 17th of March 1892 and his second sister, Rhoda Janetta, was born in Bermuda on the 22nd of October 1897. His second brother, Ronald Evelyn, was born on the 29th of October 1899, also in Bermuda. Reginald had another brother by the name of Maurice who appears to have been born after his father left the Army. The birth of Maurice Frankenberg appears in Gerald Frankenberg's military service papers[3] but not in his father's.

3. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

The following is a description of Reginald Frankenberg at the time that he applied for a commission in the Army in 1914:

Age:

24 years.

Height :

5 feet 9 inches.

Weight:

141 pounds.

Chest (normal):

35 inches.

Chest (expanded) :

39 inches.

Hearing:

Good.

Vision:

6/6 right eye; 6/6 left eye.

Colour Vision:

Normal.

4. COMMISSIONING AND TRAINING

Soon after the start of the Great War, Reginald Frankenberg decided that he, like his father and his brother Gerald, would serve in the Army. On the 11th of August 1914 he was examined by a Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps at Portobello in Dublin, Ireland and was found fit for a commission in the Army Special Reserve. On the following day he prepared his application for an appointment to a commission in the Special Reserve of Officers, specifically as an officer in the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Reginald indicated on his application that he was British born and that he was not married. He further stated that he had no prior naval or military service and that he was not a member of the Officer Training Corps. He listed his occupation as an Income Tax Recovery Expert and his permanent address as 4 College Green, Dublin, Ireland.

Frankenberg's application for commission was reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel R.L. Owens the Officer Commanding the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment.[4] Colonel Owens indicated that Reginald was suitable for a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in his battalion. On the 15th of August 1914, Reginald Frankenberg was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant[5] in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment with headquarters at Clonmel.[6]

5. ASSIGNMENTS AND CAMPAIGN SERVICE

Lieutenant Frankenberg's training as an infantry officer appears to have been minimal before he was sent off to war. On the 25th of December 1914 he embarked from Southampton for service in France. By February of 1915 Frankenberg was serving on the Western Front with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles.[7] During this period the battalion was serving with Army Troops on the lines of communication. It is likely that Lieutenant Frankenberg received intensive training during this period while the 2nd Battalion was not in the trenches.

The 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment joined the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division at Le Bizet on the 14th of March 1915.[8] At the time that Lieutenant Frankenberg and his battalion joined their new brigade, the 4th Division was preparing for the Battle of Ypres, which lasted from the 22nd of April until the 25th of May 1915. During this period the division was engaged at St. Julien (24 April to 4 May) and at Frezenberg (8 to 13 May). Details of the actions of the 12th Brigade and the 4th Division are given below from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book entitled The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 1915.

In late April of 1915 the British 4th Division was in the front line to the northeast of the town of Ypres, with its left flank at Wieltje. On the 1st of May Lieutenant Frankenberg's brigade went into the line on the right of the 4th Division's defensive sector, with the brigade's right flank at Wieltje. Along with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, the 12th Brigade consisted of the 1st King's Own Lancasters, the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, the 2nd Essex, the 5th South Lancashires and the 2nd Monmouthsire.

The Germans assaulted this sector of the British line on the 2nd of May. The attack began with a huge cloud of gas, which was ejected under high pressure from compressed cylinders in the German trenches, and rapidly traversed the narrow space between the lines. As the British troops fell back to avoid asphyxiation they were heavily sprayed by shrapnel from the German guns. German infantry followed immediately behind the gas cloud, but as they came into range of the British artillery they suffered severe losses. As a result, their advance was held back with difficulty by the 4th Division.

During the 3rd and 4th of May the British were forced to contract their position while out of contact with the Germans. This contraction of the front line involved the abandonment of two miles of ground in the salient that had been created by the British. The Germans renewed their attack on the 4th Division on the 5th of May and continued the attack on the 6th. On the 7th of May the British line was subjected to an artillery preparation for a general offensive by the Germans and on the 8th they launched a furious attack on the 4th Division. The attack is best described by the following paragraph from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book:[9]

About seven o'clock the German infantry attack developed against that part of the line - the northern or left wing - which was held by the Fourth Division. The advance was pushed with great resolution and driven back with heavy losses, after getting within a hundred yards of the trenches. "Company after company came swinging forward steadily in one long, never-ending line," says an observer of the 11th Brigade, describing the attack as it appeared from the front of the 1st East Lancashires and the 5th London Rifle Brigade. "Here and there their attack slackened, but the check was only temporary. On they came again, and the sight was one that almost mesmerised us. They were near enough for us to hear the short, sharp cries of the officers, and the rain of bullets became more deadly than ever. It was simple murder." The barbed wire in front of the defences was choked and heaped with dead and wounded men. This desperate German attack had more success farther to the south.

The Germans had actually pushed through a gap and had seized the village of Wieltje, thus getting behind the right rear of the 12th Brigade. Frankenberg and his battalion, as well as the other battalions of the 12th Brigade, were hard pressed to keep the Germans at bay. It was essential to regain the village of Wieltje, for it was a vital point in the British defensive line. Additional units of the 4th Division were sent in to assist the 12th Brigade in its defence of this sector. With this support the village was regained and the dangerous gap in the British line was closed. On the night of the 8th of May there was some desperate fighting around Wieltje, which occasionally came down to hand to hand fighting and bayonet fighting. Very heavy fighting continued until the 13th of May when the German troops, in an exhausted state, finally ceased offensive operations.

The final phase of the campaign at Ypres was to take place at Bellewaarde from the 24th to the 25th of May; however, Frankenberg missed this phase of the battle as he was injured in the field on the 14th of May 1915, just after the action at Frezenberg. The exact circumstances surrounding his injury are not know. What is known is that he twisted his left foot in a shell hole, which caused a sprain of his ankle and a strain of the tendon to his big toe so that he was unable to bear the weight of his body on his left foot.

Lieutenant Frankenberg left the front line to be evacuated back to England. He sailed for England aboard the St. Patrick and disembarked on the 17th of May 1915. He appeared before a Medical Board at Brighton on the 7th of June 1915 when it was determined that his injury did occur while he was on active service and he was found unfit for any duty for a period of five weeks. Frankenberg was granted a Leave of Absence until the 11th of July 1915. During his leave he resided at 13 Mount Merrion Avenue in Black Rock, County Dublin.

Lieutenant Frankenberg wrote to the War Office on the 29th of June 1915 with a view to being re-examined by a Medical Board to determine his fitness to return to active service. On the 13th of July 1915 he reported to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment at Clonmel, the regimental depot. He served with the 3rd Battalion on light duty from the 13th of July until early to mid-October of 1915 while his leg injury steadily improved. He appeared before three more Medical Boards at King George V Hospital in Dublin before he was finally declared fit for general service on the 2nd of October 1915.

Lieutenant Frankenberg returned to France where he was posted to the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment. The 6th Battalion had been formed at Clonmel on the 6th of September 1914 and was attached to the 47th Brigade of the 16th (Irish) Division. It was stationed at Fermoy until September of 1915 and then moved to Aldershot in Hampshire. The battalion embarked for France and arrived at Le Havre in December of 1915.

Lieutenant Frankenberg saw action again at the Battle of the Somme, which commenced on the 1st of July 1916. The 6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment was involved in the Somme offensive, which lasted until November of 1916. During that time the battalion gained a reputation as a hard fighting and tenacious unit. In an action at Guillemont on the 3rd of September 1916 the battalion fought a difficult battle that cost it 311 casualties. Following this battle the battalion was taken from the front line and sent to Carnoy to rest and refit.

Frankenberg was back in the line on the 9th of September after only 6 days of rest. On this date the 6th Battalion and the 8th Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers conducted a frontal attack on the German positions near Ginchy. British artillery had pounded this sector, but the German wire in front of their trenches received very little damage. The enemy troops were well entrenched and well prepared for the British assault and their machine guns caused many casualties among the attacking battalions. The 47th Brigade was taken out of the line on the 11th of September 1916. The brigade was then sent to Bailleul by train on the 21st of September. The 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment remained in the area between St. Omer, Ypres and Lille through the winter of 1916 and the spring of 1917. At this location the battalion prepared itself for the upcoming Battle of Messines that was to begin on the 7th of June 1917.

On the 10th of April Frankenberg reported before a medical board at Boulogne Base for evaluation of a severe ailment that prevented him from serving at the front. He was suffering from debility following an attack of rubella and a case of follicular tonsillitis. The board determined that his ailments were the result of an exposure to infection while in the performance of his military duties. He was determined to be unfit for service and was ordered to England on 14 days sick leave. After arriving in England he proceeded to "Mount Anthony" in Rathmines, County Dublin where he recuperated from his illness.

Frankenberg sent a letter to the War Office on the 21st of April 1917 to inform the authorities that he was fit for service and that he would report to Boulogne Base on the 25th of April. Shortly after his arrival in France he rejoined the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment.

The 16th (Irish) Division, along with eleven other infantry divisions, attacked Messines Ridge after a 17-day artillery bombardment. In preparation for the assault, the Royal Engineers had tunnelled under the German positions and prepared mines to be detonated at the start of the attack. At 0310 hours on the 7th of June 1917 the mines were detonated destroying many German front line units in the trenches prior to the infantry assault. The formerly strong enemy defences were so shattered by the artillery bombardment and mines that the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment and the 8th Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers were able to rapidly close with the surviving Germans in the forward trenches. They found only rubble and remains of the German positions and the village of Wytschaete. The two battalions, supported by a tank, moved rapidly through the German defensive positions and mopped up the remaining enemy forces with ease.

Following the Battle of Messines, the 16th (Irish) Division fought on at Pilckem (31 July to 2 August 1917), and Langemarck (16-18 August 1917) before the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment was disbanded at Saulcourt, near Epehy, on the 9th of February 1918. The officers and men of the 6th Battalion were sent to the 2nd and 7th Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment.[10] By the time the 6th Battalion was disbanded, Reginald Hastings Frankenberg had had his name legally changed to Reginald Hastings Hastings.

It appears that Captain Hastings was demobilized soon after the Armistice on the 11th of November 1918. The exact date of his demobilization is not known. Based on his record of service, Captain Hastings would have been awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. There is no evidence of him having been awarded any orders or decorations during his military service.

6. PROMOTIONS

Reginald H. Hastings received the following promotions during his time in service:[11]

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

15 August 1914

Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant

Unknown

Promoted Lieutenant

Unknown

Promoted Captain

7. MEDICAL INFORMATION

The following medical information was taken from Reginald H. Hastings service records during his time in service:

Location

Date of
Admission

Ailment

Period of Hospitalization
or Treatment

Dublin, Ireland

11 Aug 1914

Medical examination

Found fit for a commission in the Army Special Reserve.

France

14 May 1915

Injured left leg
in the field

Evacuation to England for treatment and recuperation.

Brighton, Sussex

7 Jun 1915

Leg injury

Medical Board. Unfit for any duty for five weeks.

Brighton, Sussex

21 Jul 1915

Leg injury

Medical Board. Found fit for light duty at home.

Dublin, Ireland

12 Aug 1915

Leg injury

Medical Board. Found fit for home service. Not fit for general service for three weeks.

Dublin, Ireland

2 Sep 1915

Leg injury

Medical Board. Still not fit for general service for one month, but fit for home service.

Dublin, Ireland

2 Oct 1915

Leg injury

Medical Board. Found fit for general service.

Boulogne, France

10 Apr 1917

Debility following rubella and follicular tonsillitis

Medical Board. 14 days sick leave in England.

8. MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL INFORMATION

Reginald Hastings Frankenberg had the firm of Fladgate & Co. of Pall Mall, London prepare a Deed Poll on the 1st of August 1917 to formally change his name to Reginald Hastings Hastings. This request to change his name was not initially recognized by the War Office because Reginald could not produce a birth certificate owing to his birth having taken place on the island of Malta. The name change was officially recognized by the War Office on the 15th of September 1917 and on the 27th of September Fladgate & Co. sent a letter to Miss Eileen H. Lambert of "Mount Anthony", Rathmines, County Dublin informing her of Reginald's name change.

Reginald H. Hastings married Miss Lambert, it is thought, some time after the end of the Great War. Reginald and Eileen had a son named Ronald Hamilton Hastings. According to family history, Reginald left his wife Eileen and his son when Ronald was only five years old.

Ronald served as a Captain in the 6th Gurkha Rifles. He in turn had a son, Reginald Hastings, who in 2003 was residing in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Republic of Ireland.

9. SUMMARY OF SERVICE

The following is a summary of the service of Reginald H. Hastings while an officer in the Royal Irish Regiment:

Location

Period of Service

Clonmel, Ireland

15 August - 25 December 1914

France and Flanders

26 December 1914 - 16 May 1915

Black Rock, County Dublin

17 May - 12 July 1915

Dublin, Ireland

13 July - 15 Oct 1915 (?)

France and Flanders

16 Oct 1915 (?) - 10 April 1917

Rathmines, County Dublin

10-24 April 1917

France and Flanders

25 April 1917 - 11 November 1918 (?)

The approximate amount of time spent by Hastings in the Army, both at home and abroad is shown in the table below:[12]

Location

Period of Service

Home Service

297 days

Service Abroad

3 years and 152 days

Total Service

4 years and 85 days

REFERENCES:

Books

1. DOYLE, A.C. The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 1915. Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1927.

2. JAMES, E.A. Historical Records of British Infantry Regiments in the Great War, 1914-1918. Henry Mills, Ltd., Birmingham, 1975.

3. PASSINGHAM, I. Pillars of Fire: The Battle of Messines Ridge, June 1917. Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998.

Correspondence

Email from Reginald Hastings, Thomastown, County Kilkenny, dated 1 September 2003, subject: Frankenberg.

Documents

The military records of Reginald Hastings Hastings (formerly Frankenberg), WO 339/15969, to include the following documents:

  1. Application for Appointment to a Commission in the Special Reserve of Officers (Army Form B. 201).
  2. Proceedings of a Medical Board, dated June 7, 1915 (Army Form A. 45).
  3. Leave of Absence (Army Form B. 4).
  4. Letter from R.H. Frankenberg to the War Office, dated 29 June 1915, re: Return to Active Service.
  5. Letter from the War Office to the Officer Commanding, 3rd Reserve Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, dated 21 July 1915, re: Results of Medical Board regarding Lieutenant R.H. Frankenberg.
  6. Letter to the War Office from the Officer Commanding, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, dated 22 July 1915, re: Lieutenant R.H. Frankenberg joining the battalion for duty.
  7. Proceedings of a Medical Board, dated 12 August 1915 (Army Form A. 45).
  8. Proceedings of a Medical Board, dated 2 September 1915 (Army Form A. 45).
  9. Proceedings of a Medical Board, dated 2 October 1915 (Army Form A. 45).
  10. Proceedings of a Medical Board, dated 10 April 1917 (Army Form A. 45).
  11. Letter from Fladgate & Co. to the War Office, dated 1 August 1917, re: Deed Poll - Captain Reginald Hastings Frankenberg.
  12. Letter from the War Office to Fladgate & Co., dated 8 August 1917, re: Deed Poll - Captain Reginald Hastings Frankenberg.
  13. Letter from Fladgate & Co. to the War Office, dated 9 August 1917, re: Deed Poll - Captain Reginald Hastings Frankenberg.
  14. Letter from the War Office to Fladgate & Co., dated 15 August 1917, re: Deed Poll - Captain Reginald Hastings Frankenberg.
  15. Letter from the War Office to the Officer Commanding, 3rd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment, dated 15 September 1917, re: Change of Name - Captain Reginald Hastings Frankenberg to Reginald Hastings Hastings.

Internet Sites

Malta Family History - British Army 1800-1900.

Periodicals

1. The Monthly Army List, April 1914. War Office, London, 1914.

2. The Monthly Army List, February 1915. War Office, London, 1915.

3. The Monthly Army List, April 1915. War Office, London, 1915.

ENDNOTES

[1] At the time they were married, Rudolph was 30 years old and Jane was 26.

[2] This school apparently no longer exists. An Internet search turned up no information on the college.

[3] WO 374/25509. The service papers of Sergeant Gerald Frankenberg, later Lieutenant, Royal Engineers.

[4] This battalion was formerly known as the North Tipperary Militia.

[5] Monthly Army List, April 1915, p. 1065.

[6] Monthly Army List, April 1914, p.1065.

[7] Monthly Army List, February 1915, p. 1065.

[8] JAMES, E.A., p. 52.

[9] DOYLE, A.C., p. 85.

[10] It is not known to which battalion Frankenberg (then Hastings) was sent.

[11] No record of his promotions to the rank of Lieutenant or Captain was found in the Army Lists, although correspondence in his service papers indicates that he was ultimately promoted to the rank of Captain.

[12] Note that the times are approximate because his exact date of return to France and Flanders in October of 1915 is not known, nor is the exact date of his demobilization known.