Distinguished Service Order : Major R H Norman, 12 Infantry Brigade Headquarters, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Chipilly
Accession Number REL41635.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Enamel, Silver gilt
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Distinguished Service Order (Geo V). Unnamed as issued.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of Brigadier Reginald Havill Norman, who was born in Kent Town, South Australia on 10 October 1893. During his school years, Norman 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 moved to Sydney and began serving with 18 Infantry Battalion.

On 14 August 1914, only days after the First World War began, 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 from Cockatoo Island 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 savage 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 5 Infantry Brigade Headquarters. He embarked from Sydney on 12 May bound for Egypt. He was promoted to captain on 1 June.

He accompanied the 5th Infantry Brigade to Gallipoli, landing on 16 August. He served on 5 Brigade’s staff until 11 December, when he transferred to 6 Infantry Brigade Headquarters as a staff captain. He was recommended for a Military Cross for his outstanding organisational ability and leadership during the evacuation of Gallipoli. After the evacuation, he returned to Egypt where the AIF spent several months before sailing for France in March.

Norman took part in the costly Battle of Pozieres, where he was again recommended for a Military Cross for not only doing his own work, but acting for the brigade major as well. He was mentioned in despatches for his efforts. He was again recommended for a Military Cross in September. In November, Norman was transferred back to 5 Infantry Brigade Headquarters as brigade major. He returned to 6 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. On 5 June, the day before he was to sail back to France, he was awarded the Military Cross.

On November 23, Norman transferred to 48 Battalion, giving up his position as staff captain. The following day, he was promoted to major and seconded to 12 Infantry Brigade Headquarters. After the fighting in Passchendaele, for which Norman was again mentioned in despatches, and the winter of 1917, 12 Brigade moved back into France to stem the advance of the German’s spring offensive in March 1918.

During the Allied advance on 8 August, Norman was recommended for and later awarded a Distinguished Service Order. His recommendation reads; ‘During operations and advance east of HAMEL on 8 August 1918. For conspicuous gallantry and stern devotion to duty. Though exposed to heavy enemy Artillery and Machine Gun fire Major NORMAN went forward and got in touch with advanced troops, ascertained their position, and established liaison between Units. This work had to be carried out under direct observation and heavy Artillery fire from the enemy holding CHIPILLY SPUR. He was untiring in his efforts and gave no though to his personal safety, his one idea being to ensure the complete success of the operation. At all times this officer showed unbounded enthusiasm, tireless energy, and exceptional devotion to duty. The magnificent example set by this officer inspired all with whom he had come into contact.’

On 25 September, Norman was seconded to the American Army, to assist them with their operations. He returned to 12 Brigade on 2 October and was again posted, this time to an officers course at Cambridge. Norman 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. He left England for Australia in November, disembarking in Sydney on 4 January 1920. He was discharged from the AIF in April.

He continued to serve with the Militia and when the Second World War began, he was mobilised on 18 December 1939 at the Command Recruiting Depot in South Melbourne, Victoria. He served within Australia during the war and ceased full time duties with the rank of brigadier on 30 May 1945.