66 Norman Masters – MM from all accounts loved soldiering, it was probably no surprise as he came from a “family of soldiers”. (see footnote)
His commitment to soldiering meant Norman had a real presence in the 1st FCE, he was involved every where……. all the stunts, big or small, and he made close friendships with his fellow engineers and maintained correspondence with family and friends under some difficult circumstances as he was witness to many events including the deaths of his mates.
He was also extremely proud of his mates and proud to distinguish himself as an Australian………
Extract from “The Sun’ July 14 1915
Lance Corporal Norman Masters writes to his father : —
“ One of our boys, Sapper Reynolds, swam back to the boat, and brought ashore two boxes of gun cotton and machine gun and a wounded man, and was shot dead on landing with the man. He would have got the V C. had he lived. I should like Harry to tell the boys at Chowder how poor Reynolds died. Sergeant Logan was shot in the neck ; Corporal Johnson was shot in the stomach— both bad cases. They are from the Sub marine Miners. I have not fired a shot yet. All the time for the past fortnight, day and night, sapping and trenching, except short spells when we go about 300 yards to our dug-outs for a little sleep. I am proud, dad, to be an Australian ; not Cook’s tourists, as some one has said. It is wonderful to see the boys being carried back wounded. They are smoking cigarettes or joking ; that is, those who are not almost out.”
Norman was 28 years old a brass moulder from Bellevue Hill Sydney.
He served at Gallipoli up to 12th October 1915. Like most of the men he would suffer from diarrhea, influenza and dysentery and had a few spells in hospital each time recovering and rejoining his unit. While at Gallipoli he was promoted to 2nd Corporal.
In October he was struck down with influenza and transported to hospital in Mudros . He was suffering from pyrexia (fever), and a contusion to his left side. He was transported back to Australia 28th Jan 1916 with debility and leave for 6 months to recover.
Norman did recover, embarking from Sydney on 8th October 1916 on the A40 Ceramic, arriving at Plymouth England 21.11.1916 and proceeded to France 3rd March 1917 and rejoined the 1st FCE in the field. Norman would later be awarded the Military Medal…………………….
Norman never lost sight of his friendships and the close bonds he had made with his fellow engineers.
On Anzac day 2 years later in 1917 his memory for his good friend 55 Walter Freebairn killed on landing day had not diminished and somehow even while still serving in France, he found time and taken measures to have a dedication inserted “In Memoriam” notices in the Sydney Morning Herald.
FREEBAIRN –In memory of Sapper Walter Freebairn
(Boller) 1st Field Coy. Engineers, killed in action
April 25, 1915 Inserted by his friend and comrade
Corporal Norman Masters 1st Field Co , Engineers.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 25 April 1917 – nla.news-article15705255
1. “family of soldiers”….. a further story to follow on this subject.
2. “A Cooks Tourist” …. was a poor reference made by the British Military to the Anzacs before Gallipoli. The British Soldiers felt the Aussies were overpaid and part time soldiers who thought they were on a holiday from the land discovered by Captain Cook…… hence a Cook’s Tourist………………After Gallipoli it didn’t take long for this reference to die out.