102 Norman “Jack” John Niccol
Norman was born in Sydney in 1893 to parents Thomas and Lilian Niccol. Along with his younger brother Thomas Roy Niccol they originally lived at Leichhardt on the fringe of the city of Sydney.
By the age of twenty Norman had completed his electrical apprenticeship while employed with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for 4 years .
In 1914 he enlisted with the 1st Field Company Engineers as a Sapper.
On Sunday the 18th October 1914 the men of the First Field Company Engineers embarked for a seven week voyage at sea. A few false starts and weeks of delays, the loss of one of its original members and 8 weeks of training and finally the men were about to head off for the great adventure. The drum beat sounded – Reveille – at 5.00 a.m and the 1st FCE broke camp at Moore Park and marched to the trams to take them to the wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay. They were then taken by Ferry to board the troopship A19 – Afric.
The fading signature of Norman Niccol appears in the bottom left corner of the original postcard of the Afric belonging to fellow original 101 John Hoey Moore.
Coincidently John Moore and Norman Niccol had consecutive regiment numbers 101 and 102 respectively, so it very likely they were tent mates at Moore Park when they enlisted and in the same section of the 1st FCE.
Norman served continuously at Gallipoli until the evacuation, when he returned with the rest of the company to Alexandria, Egypt on the troopship Caledonia on the 27th December 1915.
While camped at Alexandria, Norman was appointed lance corporal 22.1.1916 but was quickly reduced to rank of sapper after he was found guilty for disobeying the command of a senior officer and was absent without leave for 22 hrs.
In March 1916 Norman proceeded to France and then onwards with the 1st FCE to the western front.
On the 20th August 1916 he was wounded, an injury to his left hand. After a quick recovery he was granted leave and had taken only 3 days and rejoined the unit in the field where shortly after in September he was transferred to the No.4 A.D.S Col (Australian Division Supply Column) as a Driver.
On the 31st May 1918, a number of ammunition lorries from the supply company that Norman was attached were parked at Allonville on the Somme, near Amiens. Two high explosive shells landed among the lorries where Norman and his mate 5451 Roland Rose were sleeping. A shell fragment punctured the floor of the lorry and ripped through Normans legs. Roland Rose was not wounded and managed to drive Norman to the casualty clearing station all the while Norman was conscious and holding onto what remained of his severely injured legs.
Norman ‘s legs were amputated in an attempt to save his life , unfortunately later that evening Norman died from his wounds.
Norman’s service record shows he has the rare distinction of serving continuously in France from the 28th March 1916 to 31st May 1918 except for 3 days leave. Over 2 years at the front in any capacity was extraordinary.
Norman Jack Niccol was buried in a small British War cemetery in the town of Longueau which is situated on the south-eastern outskirts of Amiens, the cemetery located on the eastern side of the town.
Longueau British Cemetery was begun in April 1918, when the Allied line was re-established. The cemetery contains 204 First World War burials, 14 of which are unidentified.
Norman’s memory is honoured at the wall of remembrance in Canberra.
Norman Jack Niccol’s name will also be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on the following dates:
Thu 28 June 2018 at 7:23pm
Sat 11 August 2018 at 12:01am
Sat 29 September 2018 at 2:01am
Original Postcard photo – Courtesy Jack Moore Private collection
Photo by Len @ findagrave.comuserprofile48488629
Photo source: CSR – A record of war service of members of the staff 1914 – 1918