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Stanley Spencer Reid (12 July 1872 - 23 June 1901) was an Australian rules footballer with the Fitzroy Football Club from 1891-1898, an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church, and a member of the Imperial Forces in the Anglo-Boer War, firstly as a trooper in the Second Western Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent (2WAMI) in 1900, and then as  commissioned officer in the Sixth Western Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent (6WAMI) in 1901.

He died in active service in the Anglo-Boer War.

Early life

Stanley Spencer Reid was the second child of Rev. John Bentley Reid (1843-?) and Sibyl Rose Reid, née Drury (1849-1943).

The Reids had arrived in Australia in 1871 on the Hampshire, and moved straight to Swan Hill, Victoriamarker where Rev. John Reid became its first Presbyterian minister. He was ordained as soon as Swan Hill's first Presbyterian Church, The John Knox Church, was completed in December 1872.

After spending some time in Victoria Rev. John Bentley Reid moved to Western Australia. He was the joint minister of both the Leedervillemarker and the Subiacomarker Presbyterian churches in 1899.

Stan was born in Swan Hill, Victoriamarker on 12 July, 1872.


He attended Caulfield Grammar Schoolmarker, Scotch Collegemarker, the University of Melbournemarker, and Ormond College.

He graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1896.

VFA footballer (1891-1896)

Reid made his debut for the VFA team Fitzroy in 1891, He played quite a number of senior games for Fitzroy whilst the club was in the Victorian Football Association (VFA), and was soon considered to be one of the game's best defenders.

VFL footballer (1897-1898)

By the start of 1897, when the Fitzroy Football Club left the VFA and took part in the inaugural VFL competition, Reid was already well established as a defender, and had gained a reputation for his high making and his long kicking.

All told he played 24 senior Victorian Football League (VFL) games; eight in 1897, and sixteen in 1898.

His last game for Fitzroy was in the 1898 VFL Grand Final, in which he was one of Fitzroy's best players.

VFL representative footballer (1897)

In 1897, the VFL arranged a match between a combined VFL team and a combined Ballarat Football Association team.

Stan Reid played for the combined Victorian Football League side, in the VFL's first ever representative match.

The match was scheduled to take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday 12 July; however, an apparent problem with Melbourne Cricket Club allowing the VFL to use its pavilion facilities, meant that the game was actually played at the Brunswick Street Oval in North Fitzroymarker.

The well trained Ballarat team beat the VFL side — the VFL team had not trained together, and had six last minute replacements in the original selected side — by a score of 13.11 (89) to 8.6 (54).

Presbyterian Church

Because Melbourne University was a secular institution in the nineteenth century, it did not offer degrees in Divinity.

Consequently, Reid had to pursue his theological studies at the separate Presbyterian theological college that was situated on the university's campus, Ormond College, graduating at the end of 1898.

He was ordained as the first minister to the newly formed St. George's Presbyterian Church in the Western Australian gold mining town of Boulder on 15 March 1899.

Military service

Soon after the Second Boer War (The Anglo-Boer War) had broken out in the October of 1899, Reid volunteered to serve as a chaplain to the Second Contingent of the Western Australian Mounted Infantry.

Trooper Reid

Whilst still in Victoria, Reid had served for 18 months as a member of the self-funded (the men were required to supply and maintain their own horse, and supply their own uniform, rifle, saddles, harness, and all other equipment), voluntary citizens' military force known as the Victorian Mounted Rifles, and had been trained in various cavalry activities, such as marksmanship and both mounted and dismounted parade drills.

He eventually enlisted as a private in the Second Western Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent (2WAMI) which left Australia on 3 February, 1900.

He was a popular soldier and he was well-respected for his military skills by his fellow troopers..

The contingent (consisting of 6 officers, 97 other ranks, 125 horses, one spring cart, and one wagon) left Australia on the S.S. Surrey on 3 February 1900. Immediately the West Australian contingent arrived in South Africa it was attached to the 11th Division of the South Africa Field Force, commanded by Lieutenant-General Reginald Pole-Carew. On 25 July 1900, as the division began its advance to Komati Poort on the Komati River, at the frontier between Mozambiquemarker and South Africa, Reid became separated from his Division, and was listed as "missing" for twelve days. He rejoined his Division at Middelburgmarker. The Division eventually reached Komati Poort on 24 September.

During this first tour of duty, Reid had seen action in Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast, Cape Colony, and Orange Free State.

Arrest and repatriation to Australia

During this time Reid had written a letter to someone in Australia in which he was highly critical of an officer. A West Australian newspaper had obtained the letter and published it without seeking Reid's permission to do so. As soon as the military authorities in South Africa became aware of the letter's publication, Reid was arrested and repatriated to Australia (he reached Fremantlemarker, along with the rest of the Second Western Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent, on 8 December 1900).

Charges dropped

Having returned to Australia under arrest, Reid had the reasonable expectation that he would be court-martialled. However, no official investigation of any kind was ever made into the circumstances of the publication of the letter; and, for some undisclosed reason, his case was unexpectedly dropped altogether.

In the absence of any "official" explanation", is reasonable to suppose that one or more of several possible influences may have played a part in the decision of the authorities not to proceed against Reid:
  • His father and himself were ordained ministers of the Presbyterian Church (and, apparently, held in high regard).
  • Despite still being part of the "Imperial Forces" when he returned to Australia on 8 December 1900 (effectively as a member of the military forces of the Colony of Western Australia), he was released after the Australian Commonwealth Government (in Commonwealth Gazette No. 9 of 20 February 1901) had authorized the formation of the Commonwealth Military Forces, effective from 1 March 1901.
  • The Sixth Western Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent, being composed of just 14 officers, 214 men, and 237 horses, were greatly in need of the experience and leadership of a man who had already displayed great military talent in the South African conditions.
  • His younger brother was also in the contingent.

Lieutenant Reid

Having been released from custody, Reid was promoted to Lieutenant on 7 March 1901, and he joined the Sixth Western Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent in camp at Karrakattamarker.

His younger brother, Surgeon-Captain Francis Bentley Reid, was medical officer to the same unit.

The entire contingent left Western Australia on 10 April 1901 on the S.S. Ulstermore, and arrived in South Africa on 29 April 1901.

Reid's unit saw action in Eastern Transvaal; and, on 16 May 1901, Reid was badly wounded in the stomach in a heavy fire fight at a farm near Brakpanmarker. Reid was taken to a field hospital 39 miles from Carolinamarker. Both Reid and his brother were mentioned in despatches for their bravery at this time:

Reid recovered from his stomach wound and returned to action with his unit.


On 23 June 1901, during a reconnaissance at Renshoogate, near Ermelomarker, Reid was once again shot in the stomach. His brother placed Reid and the other wounded in an ambulance cart and set off back to their camp. Three days later, on the morning of 29 June 1901, Reid died at Middel-Kraal. A fellow officer, Lieutenant Bernard Bardwell, reported that "his brother, the doctor, was almost mad with grief".

Reid, the second VFL player known to have died in active service, is buried at the Middelburgmarker Cemetery, Transvaalmarker.


In its 20 July 1901 tribute to Reid, The Western Mail, having made reference to his academic and clerical careers, reported that Field Marshal Lord Roberts, the Commander in Chief of the British Forces in Second Boer War, had said of Reid: "He is one of the best men on the field of battle".

At the same time the newspaper observed that "his death has caused sorrow in many a home", and reported that a memorial service had been held in Boulder on Sunday 14 July 1901 for the town's former Presbyterian minister and that "many Roman Catholics and people of other denominations [had] attended to show their respect to the memory of one who had proved himself a man among men".

Stanley Spencer Reid is commemorated on war memorials at:

See also


  1. Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association: Australian and Colonial Units of the Boer War
  2. Sibyl's family name sometimes appears as "Drewry".
  3. Swan Hill Genealogical and Historical Society: Swan Hill at the time of Federation.
  4. The West Australian, 30 September 1899.
  5. The Reid's six children were Reginald Bentley Reid (born 1871), Stanley Spencer Reid (1872), Francis Bentley Reid (1874), John Cecil Drury Reid (1876-1917) — who worked as a surveyor in the early days of Canberra and the Federal Capital Territory, Heritage Objects Register Citation (page 6), who won the Military Cross, Recommendation for John Cecil Drury Reid to be awarded a Military Cross and who died of wounds sustained in action in World War I, Australian War Memorial Honour Roll: Lieutenant John Cecil Drury Reid MC — Winifred Mona Reid (1885), and William Brenmer (sic) Reid (1887). Rootsweb Item: John Bentley Reid and Sibyl Rose Drewry
  6. Main & Allen, D., (2002), p.7; Webber (1981, p.311) has the following in his Register of Students 1881-1981: "Reid, S.S. 1886—?".
  7. Main & Allen, D., (2002), p.7.
  8. Main & Holmesby (2002).
  9. AFL Player Statistics (Round by Round): Fitzroy Football Club 1897
  10. AFL Player Statistics (Round by Round): Fitzroy Football Club 1898
  11. A photograph of the 1898 premiership side — the Fitzroy players and club officials — is at Holmesby & Main (1996, p.16). Stan Reid appears at second from the left in the third row from the front.
  12. Atkinson, (2002).
  13. In 1897, with the VFA shattered by the defection of the eight VFL teams, the Ballarat competition was one of the strongest in Australia outside of the VFL.
  14. Ross, (1996), p.38.
  15. Ross, (1996), p.39.
  16. It remains a secular institution today; and still does not offer degrees in Divinity.University of Melbourne#History
  17. The West Australian, Saturday, 30 September 1899.
  18. The West Australian, 29 December 1899: "Stanley Spencer Reid, 27, Victoria, Presbyterian minister. Served eighteen months in Victorian Mounted Rifles."
  19. The Traralgon & District Historical Society; The Australian Boer War Memorial: Victorian Mounted Rifles.
  20. The West Australian, Thursday, 28 December 1899 noted that "The Rev. Stanley Reid, Presbyterian minister at Boulder, has been accepted as a member of the Western Australian contingent."
  21. Main & Allen, D., (2002), p.8. Boer War Nominal Roll: Stanley Spencer Reid (41)
  22. The West Australian of 20 January 1900, notes that Reid's response to a toast made to the "Scottish Members of the Second Contingent" (thirty of whom were present at the Smoke Night) was "greeted with uproarious cheers"; note that Reid was asked to respond despite being merely a Trooper. The newspaper was also led to remark that "it might seem to [those assembled at the Send-Off] that a clergyman should volunteer for active service, and [Reid] would say at once that, though he had not received the sympathy which he had expected from the members of his own denomination, he knew in his heart that he had the sympathy of those who were around him then."
  23. Burridge, (1972), p.10.
  24. Burridge (1972), p.14.
  25. Main & Allen, D., (2002), pp.7-8.
  26. Main & Allen, D., (2002), p.8.
  27. Amongst other influential members of the first Australian Parliament were the member for Ballaarat, and the first Attorney General (later the Second Prime Minister of Australia), Alfred Deakin, who would have known both Reid and his father, and George Reid, later the Fourth Prime Minister of Australia, was not only a Presbyterian, but his father, also a Rev. John Reid, was also a Presbyterian Minister. George Reid had also attended Scotch College prior to moving to Sydney in 1858.
  28. Lee, R., "The Army's Birthday - An Ongoing Debate".
  29. Burridge, (1972), p.27; The Permanent (Military) Force in Western Australia.
  30. War Nominal Roll: Stanley Spencer Reid
  31. Boer War Nominal Roll: Francis Bentley Reid
  32. According to Chamberlain, (2004), p.46, Captain John Campbell Australian War Memorial Boer War Nominal Roll: Captain John Campbell attacked the Boer position with Lieutenants Reid and Harold Barry McCormack Australian War Memorial Boer War Nominal Roll: Lieutenant Harold Barry McCormack on his left, and Lieutenant Frederick William Bell Australian War Memorial Boer War Nominal Roll: Lieutenant Frederick William Bell on his right. Australian War Memorial: Portrait of Lieutenant Frederick William Bell VC of the 6th West Australian Mounted Infantry Bell won a Victoria Cross for his bravery. Australian War Memorial, Honours and awards (gazetted): Frederick William Bell.
  33. Stirling, (1907), pp.476-477. Honours and awards: Stanley Spencer Reid (Mention in Despatches) Honours and awards: Francis Bentley Reid (Mention in Despatches)
  34. Murray, (1911) p.416, and Main & Allen, (2002), p.9 (no doubt using Murray as their source), give the name as Renshoogte. As there are no records (that is, other than those records directly traceable back to Murray) that use "Renshoogte" (other than, that is, the official listing in The Times of 6 July 1901), and as the Australian War Memorial records relating to this action all use "Renshoogate" — for example, see Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour: George Westcott (413) and Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour: Clarence Chudleigh Clifford (348) — and given that there seems to be no other trace of either "Renshoogte" or "Renshoogate" today (most likely wherever the place was, and whatever once existed there may well have been later razed to the ground by the British, as was the case with Carolina and Ermelo), it seems best to take the Australian War Memorial's version. Furthermore, in relation to Reid himself, Murray (1911, p.35) mistakenly has him returning to Australia on 26 January 1901, rather than on 8 December 1900; and, so, it may well be that his "Renshoogte" is just another inadvertent typographical error on Murray's part.
  35. Main & Allen, (2002), p.9.
  36. The first was Charlie Moore who played 27 games (34 goals) for Essendon (he died on 5 May 1901 at Kwaggashoek Farm, Orange Free State, South Africa). Moore had been an opponent of Reid's in the 1898 Grand Final, Reid's last VFL match for Fitzroy.
  37. Graves and Memorials of Australians in the Boer War 1899-1902: Middelburg Cemetery, Transvaal, Memorial to those who fell at Brakpan (Groblersrecht and Middelkraal).
  38. Main & Allen, D., (2002), p.10.
  39. Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc. — Graves and Memorials of Australians in the Boer War 1899-1902: Perth, WA, Kings Park (The King's Park Memorial); Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc. — Graves and Memorials of Australians in the Boer War 1899-1902: Perth, WA, Kings Park (Foundation Stone); Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc. — Graves and Memorials of Australians in the Boer War 1899-1902: Perth, WA, Kings Park (Reid's Memorial Inscription).


  • Anon, "Boulder Clergyman Volunteers", The West Australian, Vol.15, No.4312, (Thursday, 28 December 1899), p.5, col.G.[639070]
  • Anon, "Summary of News", The West Australian, Vol.15, No.4312, (Thursday, 28 December 1899), p.4, col.E.[639071]
  • Anon, "The Presbyterian Church in Western Australia: A Twenty Years' Retrospect", The West Australian, Vol.15, No.4312, (Saturday, 30 September 1899), p.10, col.C.[639072]
  • Anon, "The War: Casualties", The Times, No.36500, (Saturday, 6 July 1901), p.13, col.A.
  • Anon, "The War: The Scottish Members of the Force; An Enthusiastic Send-Off", The West Australian, Vol.16, No.4332, (Saturday, 20 January 1900), p.5, col.H.[639073]
  • Anon, "The War: Western Australian Mounted Infantry; List of Men Enrolled", The West Australian, Vol.15, No.4313, (Friday, 29 December 1899), p.5, col.F.[639074]
  • Anon, "War Shots: A Warlike Parson", Northern Territory Times and Gazette, Vol.22, No.1370, (Friday, 9 February 1900), p.3, col.E.[639075]
  • Atkinson, G., The Complete Book of AFL Finals (2002 Edition), The Five Mile Press, (Melbourne), 2002. ISBN 1-865-03892-X
  • Burridge, J., Western Australian Contingents to the South African War, John Burridge, (Perth), 1972. ISBN 0-959-89420-9
  • Chamberlain, M., "The Action at Brakpan", Sabretache: The Journal and Proceedings of the Military Historical Society of Australia, Vol.45, No.4, (September 2004), pp.41-46.
  • Holmesby, R. & Main, J., This Football Century: "The Greatest Game of All", Wilkinson Books, (Melbourne), 1996. ISBN 1-863-50222-X
  • Lee, R., "The Army's Birthday: An Ongoing Debate", Army History Unit, (Canberra), 2004. []
  • Main, J. & Allen, D., "Reid, Stanley", pp.7-10 in Main, J. & Allen, D., Fallen — The Ultimate Heroes: Footballers Who Never Returned From War, Crown Content, (Melbourne), 2002. ISBN 1-740-95010-0
  • Main, J. & Holmesby, R., The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers, Crown Content, (Melbourne), (2002). ISBN 1-740-95032-1
  • Murray, P.L. (ed), Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, A.J. Mullett, Govt. Printer, (Melbourne), 1911.
  • Rogers, S. & Brown, A., Every Game Ever Played: VFL/AFL Results 1897-1997 (Sixth Edition), Viking Books, (Ringwood), 1998. ISBN 0-670-90809-6
  • Stirling, J.F., The Colonials in South Africa, 1899-1902: Their Record, Based on the Despatches, W.Blackwood and Sons, (Edinburgh), 1907.
  • Webber, Horace, Years may pass on . . . Caulfield Grammar School, 1881-1981, Centenary Committee, Caulfield Grammar School, (East St Kilda), 1981. ISBN 0-9594242-0-2

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