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SADLER, Norman Henry MM (1895-1916) +

SADLER, Norman Henry MM (1895-1916)

Norman Henry Sadler was born on 4 May 1895, the son of William Sadler and Frances nee Stewart, of Sydney Parade, Geelong. He was enrolled at Geelong College in 1902.

N H Sadler (War Service).

N H Sadler (War Service).

During World War I, he enlisted ( No. 3373) on 18 March 1915 as a Private in 6th Field Ambulance, and embarked on HMAT A31 Ajana on 4 June 1915 with C Section, 6th Field Ambulance of the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC). He served on Gallipoli as a stretcher bearer, and afterwards joined 12th Field Ambulance in France. He was awarded the Military Medal, gazetted 9 December 1916, the citation read:
‘On the 27th and 28th July near Pozieres he carried wounded practically continuously for 24 hours from the front trenches on the right to the RAP in Chalk Pit Road, being exposed to heavy fire during the greater part of the time. From that time till the present date (21 August 1916) he has been carrying wounded through Pozieres and on three occasions when volunteers were called for to carry wounded under fire he has volunteered and carried on his work under most trying conditions.’

He was killed in action while bringing in the wounded on 30 August 1916 at Casualty Corner, near Contalmaison on the right of Pozieres, aged 21. He was afterwards buried near his friend Private W C James and a cross was put over both of their graves.

Private G W Lloyd of 12 Field Ambulance confirmed the circumstances of his death in a letter to the Red Cross Information Bureau:
‘I was present when he was wounded. On the morning of August 30th 1916 my squad, consisting of Privates O’Callaghan, Watson, Sadler and myself, was told off to clear the 'Pozieres Cemetery Dressing Station'. To reach our destination the wounded had to be carried over two saps and across an old No Man’s Land - distance about 1½ miles. We had started on our third trip and had proceeded only 200 yards - at the time under shell fire - we crossed the first sap safely and were just about to cross the second, when a HE shell burst about five yards in front of the party. Sadler was in front - the concussion knocked the four of us over, and on receiving no response to my call, ‘Come on, Norm, hop up’, Watson said, ‘He is hit’, and it required only a glance to see that a piece of the shell had penetrated his helmet making an ugly wound over the left temple. No time was lost in dressing the wound and getting him back to the station, where he was examined by two medical officers. This was at 3.30 p.m. At 7.30 the next morning he passed peacefully away. Six of his old pals carried him to the little cemetery near our Headquarters and the burial service was read by Chaplain Henderson of the 12th Brigade. Early in September I wrote to his people and I trust you will not find it necessary to inform them through the abrupt pages. I am thankful that I have had this opportunity of giving you a correct report of my pal’s death and at any time that I may be able to do you any service I will do my utmost for the Australian Branch BRCS.’

Norman Sadler was buried at Pozieres British Cemetery Ovillers-La-Boisselle - Grave IV. M. 28.

The AWM Collection holds a banner which was presented to the 4 Divisional Field Ambulance Association soon after the war by some of the former officers who had served in its units (4, 12 and 13 Field Ambulances). It was carried every year in Melbourne Anzac Day marches until 1948, when its deteriorating condition caused it to be offered by the Association to the Australian War Memorial. It was donated via Mr Harold Arthur Wiseman, formerly of 12 Field Ambulance, an incapacitated veteran, who was living at the Anzac Hostel in Brighton. The hand coloured photograph featured on the reverse of the banner is said to show ‘three Victorian members of the 12th Field Ambulance carrying a stretcher case. One of the three, Private Norm Sadlier (sic), was killed in action a few days later’.

The man referred to, is Private Norman Henry Sadler, MM, of 12 Field Ambulance, a 21 year old killed at Contalmaison, near Pozieres, on 30 August, 1916. He lost two cousins in the Great War, the brothers Henry and Hector Alfred Sadler, sons of Henry and Euphemia Sadler, of Geelong - Private Henry Sadler, 8 Battalion, who died on 1 May 1915 of wounds suffered on Gallipoli, has no known grave, his name is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, Turkey; and Driver Hector Alfred Sadler, 106 Howitzer Battery, who was killed on 30 July, 1916, buried at Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La-Boiselle, France - Grave I.B.16.

Among his comrade, Ronald McGregor ‘Mac’ Gunn’s personal effects, which are held by Gunn’s daughter, there is a photograph of Norman Sadler, which was supposedly taken the day before Sadler was killed at Pozieres in August 1916.

A Memorial Service was held at St George's School Hall, Geelong to honour World War I servicemen who had been killed on active service. Among those honoured were Ormond Purnell (OGC) and Norman Sadler. The Geelong Advertiser printed the following tribute to Norman in November 1916.:

'Private Norman Sadler, of A.M.C., killed at his post, in the act of rescuing the wounded. He was known to all in the church and school, a quiet, thoughtful, retiring boy, beloved by all. Ho had a strong personality, and anything he undertook to do was done graciously and thoroughly. The following letter, received by his sorrowing mother from the captain of the unit, and signed by 51 of his comrades in the same section, speaks for itself: —
'France, September 12th, 1916.
- Dear Mrs. Sadler, - We, the members of B section, 12th Australian Field Ambulance, desire to express our sympathy at the loss sustained by you in the death of your son, Norman. Tho fact of his death will have become known to you 'ere this reaches you, but we feel it will be a source of comfort, to know of the circumstances surrounding it. Believe us to be whole-heartedly sincere when we say that Norman was the most popular man in the section. Times out of number he had displayed his sterling qualities and fearless bravery, qualities which endeared him to the hearts of all. Before setting out on what proved to be his last journey to the trenches, he was made the recipient of a certificate for consistent and conspicuous services in the previous mission. That he should be selected for special mention from a body of men who had all rendered excellent service, is a tribute of highest praise. By order of the General Officer commanding the Division, the Military Medal was awarded later. Your son Norman died as he had lived, at his post, and after all no worthier end could have befallen him. It will be an unspeakable comfort for you to know that we secured the services of the Rev. Kenneth Henderson, Anglican Chaplain, for the burial service. A wooden cross, suitably inscribed, was fashioned by his comrades, who attended to pay the last respects. The field of battle is Norman's resting place, and there he sleeps. Your sorrow at losing Norman is, in lesser degree, our sorrow too. We commend you to tho source of Divine solace, wherein is found a balm for all human woes. Accept this letter as an expression of our grief, an appreciation of one who leaves behind both a worthy record and a saining example. - Very sincerely yours. - '

His brothers, Vincent William Stewart Sadler (1887-1967) and Stanley Palmer Sadler (1890-1959) were also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Geelong Advertiser 29 Nov 1916 p5; Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp 103-105 (citing The University of Melbourne: Record of Active Service of Teachers, Graduates, Undergraduates, Officers and Servants (1926); Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Photo Pegasus December, 1916; RELAWM 15284.)
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