66 Norman Masters – MM was 28 years old when he enlisted with the 1st Field Company Engineers. A brass moulder from Bellevue Hill Sydney. He also came from a military family, his father a Crimean war veteran , his brother a Boer war veteran . Norman and his three brothers all enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces.
The eldest HV Masters was killed in 1918, H.B Masters had over 20 years military service, serving at the front and H.S Masters the youngest would also become the recipient of the Military Medal and so happened served with the 1st FCE 10th Reinf. at Gallipoli and was present at the evacuation and then onto the front with Henry Bachtold and co. in the 14th FCE.
His commitment to soldiering meant Norman had a real presence in the 1st FCE, he was involved every where……. all the stunts, big and small. He was involved in the assault on “The German Officers Trench” at Gallipoli, and in France he would be on hand to save his friend from being buried alive.
In July 1915 aletter to his father was printed in “The Sun” newspaper giving an account of the morning of the landing at Gallipoli on the 25th April 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.” ……Extract from “The Sun’ July 14 1915
Norman was a man devoted to his duty and his mates. He would make 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 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 the 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.
On the 4th of October the company helped to capture Passchendale Ridge. They followed the second wave of the Infantry and when the ridge was captured the company proceeded to consolidate the position by forming a strong point.
At 1.30 in the afternoon a German aeroplane came over at a low altitude and had spied their position and turned back to inform the German batteries. The German batteries then opened fire and sent a salve into the company’s position on the ridge, a barrage of heavy shelling that lasted for the remainder of the day and ultimately at great cost to the “original” sappers and many others.
Norman was wounded, a gun shot wound to his left thigh and his devotion to duty and his bravery at this time earned him a Military Medal….. the citation reads as follows..
“During the operation east of YPRES on the 4th October 1917, he was employed on the construction of a communication trench between two strong point on BECELAERE Ridge. He gave great assistance in laying out the work and in distributing the men and supervising the work. He gave great assistance to our wounded and when he himself was wounded he walked to the dressing station near YPRES rather than tax the stretcher bearers who were very busy at the advanced dressing station. He set a fine example of devotion to duty.” Source: ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 31 – Date: 7 March 1918
The following account was also in a letter from fellow “original” 167 Albert Currie……..
“……. I was wounded and buried alive as a shell exploded and the trench was blown upon us, but I was rescued before I was smothered.”
His good mates 66 Norman Masters and 99 John Jackson were by his side at the Ypres stunt and helped dig him out. Due to the actions of Masters and Jackson, 167 Albert Currie was lucky enough to be invalided out of the western front.
Once Norman had recovered from his own wounds, for a short spell he became an instructor at the Engineering training dept. in Tidworth England . He later rejoined the original company back in France in July 1918.
He still saw active service in England after the war had ended, and suffered a period of illness up to March 1919. Perhaps during these spells in England he met a young lady, Florence Grace Langmead and they would later be married on the 19.4.1919……… marriage certificate below
It wasn’t until 31/12/1920 that he embarked on the “Marathon” and finally returned to Sydney. Norman returned to his previous occupation as a brass moulder which he continued up until his retirement.
In 1930 Norman and Florence were living at 42 Donald st Hurstville . They had two daughters Betty (Elizabeth) and Norma.
In 1933 they had moved to “Yah Gunyah” 48 Wyralla Ave, Epping, where Florence died on 6th April 1934, she was 42 years old she is buried at Maquarie Park NSW
In 1943 Norman was living at 113 Victoria st Darlinghurst West and is still a brass moulder, also at this address is Elizabeth Mabel Masters his daughter.
Marriage records show Norman Masters married again in 1950 to Rebecca Lecatsas at Hurstville New South Wales.
In 1954 he is still a brass moulder living at 46 McDougal st, Milsons Point North Sydney with his wife Rebecca.
By 1963 it looks like Norman finally retired and with Rebecca had moved to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains NSW.
In 1967 Norman was living at 10 Wombat st, Blackheath NSW and applied for his Gallipoli medal
Norman Died in 1968 aged 82 years old.
Sourses; AWM, NAA, NLA
1. Ancestry Notes:
In 1949 electorals – Norman is at same address Darlinghurst but no one else is living with him. –
His daughter Elizabeth Mabel Masters married Norman Tootell in Sydney 1946. She is possibly about 26 years old ??? Norman Tootell is tragically killed in the same year April 16 in a truck accident .
It appears that Norman Tootell had two children, June and Norman from a previous marriage.
Elizabeth married again in 1948 – Ronald Hourigan – a policeman in 1968, they were living in Coffs Harbour – ( Ronald Hourigan in 1980 Electoral rolls listed as police sergeant in Parkes ) he died in 28th November 2000 Parkes General cemetery. Elizabeth was with him until her death 24 years earlier 1st April 1976 she was only 56.
In 1967 he was living at 10 Wombat st, Blackheath NSW and applied for his Gallipoli medal
Norman Died in 1968 aged 82 years old.