Modified officers Mk IV pattern saddle : Major Reginald Havill Norman, AIF

Accession Number REL/03514
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Brass, Leather, Linen, Steel, Wood
Maker Walther & Stevenson, Ltd
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made c 1914-19
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Modified saddle based on an officers Mark IV military pattern saddle. The maker's name is stamped on the rear top of the outer flaps.

The saddle is a standard 'small’ size with a 16” seat (410mm), standard flaps of 18¼“ (460mm) in length by 12½“ (320mm) in width. The underside bars are the standard 24” (610mm) in length. The saddle has a leather seat, two overlapping flaps each side and between the flaps are three girth straps 14½ “(370mm) long and 1“(25mm) wide. The straps would have originally held two girths made of blue worsted webbing with nickel plated buckles, which are no longer present.

Modifications to the standard pattern include:
The pannels (the soft stuffed underside that makes the saddle comfortable to fit on to the animals back) are shortened to cover just the animals back. The Army specification required a full pannel which covered the sides to protect the animal’s ribcage.

The saddle flaps: the sweat flap (the underside leather flap that stops the riders leg from accumulating horse sweat) are enlarged possibly to account for the lack of the full pannel. The flaps also have two slots cut into them to hold the surcingle (the strong leather strap that encircles the saddle to the animal so as to prove a safety catch should the girth break). The standard officers saddle had a double girth system, yet some officers saddles had a surcingle keeper stitched to the lower flap to hold the surcingle in place.

The brass dees and rings on the rear of the saddle appear to be made specifically for this saddle as they could only have been fitted during construction. The standard officers saddles have a different arrangement and the brass dees were matched on each side. This saddle holds a single brass ring on one side and a small dee on the opposite side.

History / Summary

Reginald Havill Norman was born in Kent Town, South Australia on 10 October 1893. During his school years, he served with the cadets, before moving on to serve for 18 months in the Militia as the adjutant of the 78th Infantry Battalion, Adelaide Rifles. He then moved to Sydney and joined the 18th Infantry Battalion.

On 14 August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, Norman applied for a commission with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF), which was being raised at the Sydney showgrounds. He was appointed as a second lieutenant to the headquarters company of the ANMEF and embarked with the unit the following day aboard HMAT A35 Berrima.

After a brief stop at Palm Island, the ANMEF sailed for German New Guinea and began landing troops at Kabakaul, New Britain on 11 September. After some short, but intense fighting the German forces surrendered and the British Flag was raised over Rabaul on 12 September. Within five days all hostilities were declared over.

On 2 October, Norman was appointed the Garrison Adjutant. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 January 1915 and was appointed as a staff officer on 14 January. He returned to Australia in February and was discharged from the ANMEF on 4 March.

Norman then applied for a commission in the AIF and was gazetted as second lieutenant on 7 May and posted to 5th Infantry Brigade Headquarters. He embarked from Sydney on 12 May bound for Egypt. He was promoted to captain on 1 June. Norman accompanied the 5th Infantry Brigade to Gallipoli, landing on 16 August. He served on the Brigade’s staff until 11 December, when he transferred to 6th Infantry Brigade Headquarters as a staff captain. For his organisation and leadership during the evacuation of Gallipoli, he was unsuccessfully recommended for a Military Cross. After the evacuation, he returned to Egypt where the AIF spent several months there before sailing for France in March.

Norman took part in the Battle of Pozieres, after which he was again recommended for a Military Cross for which he was awarded a Mention in Despatches. In November, he transferred back to 5 Infantry Brigade Headquarters as brigade major. He returned to 6th Brigade in this capacity on 21 January 1917.

Norman was accidentally wounded in the hand on 11 April and was evacuated to England for treatment. For his conduct during his time with the ANMEF, and with the AIF on Gallipoli and in France he was finally awarded the Military Cross on 5 June 1917.

On November 23, Norman transferred to 48th Battalion. The following day, he was promoted to major and seconded to 12th Infantry Brigade Headquarters. After the fighting in Passchendaele, Norman was again mentioned in despatches.

For his actions during the Allied advance on 8 August, Norman was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. On 25 September, Norman was seconded to the United States Army to assist them with their operations. He returned to 12th Brigade on 2 October and was again posted, this time to an officer’s course at Cambridge. He withdrew from the course in January 1919, but remained in England. He was awarded a Belgian Croix de Guerre on 5 April for his work during the Allied advance on 8 August 1918. Norman left England for Australia in November 1919. He was discharged from the AIF in April 1920.

He continued to serve with the Militia until mobilised in December 1939 for service in the Second World War. He served within Australia and ceased full time duties with the rank of brigadier on 30 May 1945.