Field binoculars & case : Major Reginald Havill Norman, 48 Battalion, AIF

Accession Number REL41637
Collection type Technology
Object type Optical equipment
Physical description Glass, Leather, Metal
Maker W Watson & Sons Ltd
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made 1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Prismatic binoculars stamped at the front of each eyepiece body with a broadarrow mark. The rear of the right eyepiece body is stamped 'W. Watson & Sons Ltd. London. 1916'. The corresponding panel on the left eyepiece is marked 'Binocular Prismatic No. 3. (M .1) x 6 17084'. The associated leather case is fitted with shoulder strap.

History / Summary

These field binoculars were used by Major, later Brigadier, Reginald Havill Norman. 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 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 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 5 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 5 Brigade’s staff until 11 December, when he transferred to 6 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 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 Mention in Despatches. 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. 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 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, Norman was again mentioned in despatches.

For his actions during the Allied advance on 8 August, Norman was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. The recommendation for the award 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 officer’s 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.