The Norman Gamble Story


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This story, first presented at the August 2015 society members meeting, has been abridged for web publication. Norm's Story forms an additional part of the larger "Gambles of Campbelltown" story to be published in the Society Grist Mills Journal in July 2016.


The Gamble's of Campbelltown

Norm's Story


By John A. White 2015




Two things make Norman Gamble’s war story worth telling, first, we have a series of letters from Norman during his war service, not many of those from Campbelltown men still exist. Secondly, unlike some war letters and diaries which speak of the horrors of war, Norman wrote about his family and his situation as you and I might to relatives.  He did not dwell on  the terrible situation he was in.


Norman John Webster became part of the Gamble family story in April 1892.  Norm, as he would be known, was the third son of Thomas and Matilda Gamble.   He followed his two older brothers, Richard; who was 8 years, and Roy; 2 years senior, Leo would follow them in another 3 years.


Norm gives us the impression of being somewhat shy and retiring, he was reluctant to speak in public unlike his father and brothers who were politicians and  public speakers of note.  Few photos exist of him in early life.  He was in his mid 20’s below.


Norman Gamble



The Gambles lived above their shop at 292 Queen Street when Norm was born, we know it today as the Bursill building, or Legacy House. Back then it was called Standwell House.   All the boys were born there, a gentleman who later lived in the building told me there were six bedrooms upstairs, at least during his residency.  The shop Norm's parents owned sold all sorts of merchandise, from clothing to drapery, produce and vegetables, would think with four boys, jars of lollies. 


Standwell House

Standwell House c 1885 


Norm attended Campbelltown Public school; unfortunately there are no student records preserved from that time, I’m sure he did well though, he certainly had neat handwriting.  As he grew older Norm participated in  sports as did his brothers, he seems to have excelled more at football  and billiards, than cricket and athletics as Roy and Richard did. [1]


Norm actually looked more like a footballer than a cricketer.  He competed against people such as P. C. Marlow, F. Sheather, A. G. Payten and C.A. Nocol, names you will have heard in Campbelltown’s history[2].  Norm was also in the Military Cadets.


Apart from sporting results in the newspapers, we lose track of Norman during his young adult years. After schooling Norm obviously worked though we only have an entry on his enlistment papers in 1915, as an indication of that work, Drover.


Just short of 23 years old, Norman volunteered for service 7 months after War was declared.  He fell right in the middle of all the statistics for volunteers, year joined 1915, age 22, type of work farming, even religion Church of England[3].   Norman Gamble seems to have been a typical small town volunteer. 


On his February 10th 1915 enlistment papers, he described himself as a drover; he also says he had three years experience as a Senior Cadet, meaning the local Militia, he was certainly a horseman.   Norm was assigned as a trooper signalman to the 12th Regiment, 4th Light Horse, 3rd Aust. Imperial Expeditionary Force, this force trained at Holsworthy. 


Norman was on a troop ship to Europe when he wrote his first letter.  He had of course never met his family in Ireland, and formally introduces himself.


Extract of letter July 1915



We will not insert copies of  letters for the remainder of the story, copies of the letters are on file at the society.




(July 1915) My Dear Uncle,


I dare say you will be surprised to hear from me.  As you will see by my address, I have enlisted, & will probably reach my destination about Saturday week, which I think will probably be “Egypt,” but if we should by any chance go to England, I will come and see you , if I can possibly manage it.  I am the 3rd son of your brother Thomas, of Campbelltown N.S.W....


.....We have had a very pleasant voyage & have been lucky to strike fine calm weather, nearly all the time. We crossed the Equator on Monday, at 2pm & had a good turn out.   Brigade “Major Baker” acted as  “Father Neptune” & the Bandmaster as “Mrs Neptune”,  &  also several other Characters,  which were very funny,  all those  who had not been over the line before were brought up before Father Neptune, & then lathered with flour & water, & shaved with a large wooden razor branded “KRUPP”,  then the Doctor placed a pill made of soap in their mouth, & pushed them backwards into the water sheet, where they were ducked.    Several men tried to avoid it by climbing up the rigging, but the hose soon fixed them up.  


We have sports every Wednesday, & Saturday afternoon, &  generally have a concert at night.  Just now we have a Boxing Tournament in progress. On Sunday we have Church Parade  & Lifeboat & Fire Parade  & then we have the rest of the day to ourselves, & generally have a  Sacred concert at night.


I am sorry to say that Papa has not been  keeping very well,  this last 2 or 3 yrs,  we thought we were going to lose him several times. He takes a kind of stroke, & a strange thing it always comes on in the night.  My brother Roy, lives at home with Mother & Papa,  & Leo the youngest  is away in the Post Office , at Katoomba.  & Richard the Eldest is Married , &  living near Sydney & is and Accountant  at Joshua Heath & Co, Furniture Warehouse, Sydney.  


Mother, did not like the Idea of me going away, but I thought it my duty to do so, as there was Roy at home to look after them, & I thought  it was up to me to represent the Family.  We have a pet Kangaroo &  a Wallaby with us. I will be glad when we get into action, as I enlisted in November which is 8 months ago.


I will now say Good-Bye with best Love to you & all at Home.

I remain

Your Loving Nephew


P.S. I have joined the Signalling Corps which is very interesting work.




The letters we have from Norm are to his family in Kilmeaden Ireland. He of course would have written to his family in Campbelltown, those letters have been lost.


Norms regiment sailed from Australia in June 1915,  the SS Suevic, carrying Norm’s regiment sailed from Sydney on the 13th[4, 5].   Norm was right, his first stop would be the middle east but not Egypt.  The 4th Light Horse was ordered to Aden where an Ottoman attack was expected.  They conducted a reconnaissance of the frontier and undertook a 10 klm route march but there was no attack.  They re-embarked and sailed to Suez on the 23rd of July moving to a camp near Cairo where they underwent additional training.  In August over a five day period they went by train to Alexandria, by ship to the island of Lemnos,  then ashore at  Anzac Cove on the 29th.  




The afternoon of August the 29th, the 4th Light Horse were informed that they were to be broken up and taken into other Light Horse units which were already at Gallipoli.  Norms “C” squadron was assigned to the 6th Light Horse at Lone Pine and Holy Spur, becoming their “D” squadron. 


This period at Anzac Cove was mainly defensive in nature; there were several attacks fought off.  Eighteen men from the regiment were killed during this time.  The new men were assigned the right flank of the defences where the previous month the costly battle of Lone Pine had occurred. The unit war diary says they were stationed in trenches in the “Southern Section, Number 1”.


Charles Bean the official Australian War Historian, wrote in late 1915 of the conditions in these trenches.

“You must not imagine that life in one of these year-long modern battles consists of continuous bomb fighting, bayoneting and bombarding all the time … [the] chief occupation is the digging of mile upon mile of endless sap [trench], of sunken road … The carrying of biscuit boxes and building timbers for hours daily … the sweeping and disinfecting of trenches in the never ending battle against flies – this is the soldier's life for nine days out of ten in a modern battle.” 


Norm Gamble did not have to suffer these conditions for long, he was wounded on the 12th of September.  The record does not describe the type of wound he suffered at Gallipoli, though it does indicate his stay in hospital was quite long.  He was transported from Anzac Cove to Mudros on Lemnos then by ship to England on the 26th of September.  Admitted to the 2nd Southern General hospital, Southmead section, in Bristol on the 11th of October 1915, he would not report for frontline active duty again until the 6th of September 1916.


Bishops Knoll


Bishops Knoll, Southern General Hospital


The southern General hospital deserves a mention, although it was a British R. A. M. C. hospital there was a section devoted to Australian troops.  Mr. R. E. Bush placed his beautiful mansion, Bishop's Knoll, in the hands of the medical authorities, and converted it at his own expense into a hospital of 100 beds, especially for Australian soldiers. Mr. Bush acted as Commandant, assisted by Mrs. Bush as Quartermaster.

The hospital very quickly earned a reputation for comfort and efficiency that was probably unsurpassed anywhere, the gratitude of the patients and the continuous requests from wounded to be sent to this hospital showed that its reputation was fully deserved.[6]


Ward at bishops Knoll


Ward at Bishops Knoll


During that year, before he returned to his regiment, Norm was recovering, and afterward training at the Australian camps in Abby Wood; also known as the 5th convalescent Depot  at Bostall Heath. He then was posted to Monte Video, and Perham Down.  It was at Abby Wood in March 1916 that he copped 14 days confined to barracks for disobeying an order, there was a lot of that going around.  


Abby Wood

Abby Wood Camp


For troops invalided at Gallipoli, these camps were meant to hardened them up for further field service. During his recovery, Norm sent a Christmas postcard to his Uncle Richard and Aunt Maggie, this card was the famous one issued by Sir Ian Hamilton with a message to the Anzacs. You might have seen this image.



Birdwood Christmas Card

Birdwood Card Inside


On the 6th of September 1916, after nearly a year in England, Norm joined the 1st Battalion A.I.F. , in December they shipped from Folkestone to Etaples in France, just south of Calais.  We do not know if he wanted to leave the Light Horse for the Infantry or not, but the fact was, both were both being used as infantry anyway. Norm had not sat a horse for quite some time.

For the whole of 1917 and first half of 1918 the 1st Battalion relieved other frontline and reserve units, were themselves then relieved and they trained, trained , and trained. 




A page from the war diary detailing training


The men were kept busy.  We know trench warfare  was dirty, dangerous, and unhealthy when near the front line...also at times monotonous. During this period Norm was hospitalised through illness several times as were many troops.


In March Norm wrote to Aunt Maggie from Fricourt France, east of Amiens;






My Dear Aunt Maggie,

I received your very welcome letter dated Jan 15th . I am pleased to see by it   that yourself &  Uncle are well again.  I received the two parcels from Home a few days ago which Aunt Kate redirected to me. I think myself very lucky to get them after being so long on the way. Fancy taking from November until Feb to come from England to France.  I also received a nice parcel from Aunt Kate yesterday.  We are enjoying very nice weather now. The last week or so has been quite warm. It is a treat to have the Sunshine after so much Rain & Snow. 

I can’t make out what has happened to my Australian Mail as I have not received a letter from Mother since October last. The last one I had from Dick he said that Leo had enlisted in Nov either in the Artillery or the Wireless Section. I would very much like to have him with me.  Mother is bound to take it very hard when he leaves Australia. He is her Baby being the Youngest of our Family. I must now close with Best Love to Yourself & Uncle and all at Baylough.  Hoping this note will find you all in the best of health as it leaves me at Present.

I remain

Yours affectionate Nephew


9 Mar 17    Field Post Office 113




Norman addresses most of his correspondence to ‘Aunt Maggie’ which seems to establish her role as ‘letter-writer’.  Aunt Kate is his father’s youngest sister – She and Uncle Richard are twins. Bay Lough is home to Maggies family, it is near Kilmeaden.


Maggie, Norman’s aunt by marriage, was also his  2nd cousin – their grandmothers were sisters.  Jack and Will, also Robert, her brothers, were obviously his 2nd cousins also.


One can imagine how important letters from home were; to not receive any for months would be dreadful.  Shortly after writing this letter Norm and the 1st Battalion were moved to the area of Bullecourt and took part in that battle from the 4th April to around the 7th of May.  The Battalion reports read exactly as the stories we have all heard.  The relevant part, for Norms unit being[7]:


 “The casualties suffered while the Battalion was in the forward area were: 5 officers killed, 44 other ranks killed 29 other ranks missing, 80 officers wounded, 232 other ranks wounded.”   


Reading a Battalion War Diary is like reading dry history, it’s recording what happened on specific dates and times,  one must remember that men, some really boys, participated and  were wounded or killed on many of the pages.


Norman did not write home of the horrors of war as some soldiers did, he never describes the horrible things he would have seen.  I would think, he simply did not want to disturb and worry his family.


In June of 1917 Norm wrote to Aunt Maggie again from Lavieville, Northeast of Amiens;






My Dear Aunt Maggie

I received your very welcome letter on Thursday dated June 8th  which was enclosed in a parcel. Thanks very much for the Cigarettes & Soap. I received two letters from Mother yesterday, and they were all well at Home when Mother wrote the letter, and Papa’s health was improving.  Leo was expecting to leave Australia any day. I do not think he will come to France though.


He is Engaged to a Young Lady from Katoomba and they say she is a great musician.  Mother thought it very foolish of him to become engaged before leaving, but I think it is the best thing that could have  happened to him.  I am pleased to hear that Jack is doing well and recovering from his wounds.  We are having beautiful weather over here now. The days are very long and hot, just the kind of weather we like, but of course we feel the heat after such a severe winter.  There is no chance of getting leave for another 12 or 15 months and then only for 10 days.  I am quite well again now , & must say Good Bye with Best Love to yourself & Uncle  and your Mother & Father and Will and Sarah & ‘Baby’  hoping this will find you all in the best of health.

I Remain

Your Affectionate Nephew




Norman’s brother Leo enlisted in the signal corps and served in the Middle East, but his is another story.


Four months later in November of 1917 Norm wrote to Aunt Maggie again, from Ypres Belgium;






My Dear Aunt Maggie

Just a few lines to let you know I am still alive and kicking. Aunt Kate told me in her letter that you have an addition to the family. Well Aunt I hope this note will find Yourself Uncle and Baby in the best of Health.  I received a letter from Mother last mail and they were all well at Home at time of writing. Papa was keeping well but is still under the Doctor.  Leo is in Egypt with the 1st Signal

Squadron and last time I heard from him he was going through a Signal School at  “Alexandria” and having a real good time as the school is quite handy to the Beach and they go Surf Bathing every evening after Parade. And he has also been seeing the sights and there are some beautiful places to see there too.  It must have been a lovely change for him after being away out in the dry sandy Desert.  I have been keeping well and have managed to dodge Old Fritz so far. We have had some very heavy fighting over here lately and gave the Hun a great thrashing and captured positions from him which he thought

impregnable. And indeed to see them one would think they were.  But our Artillery demoralises his men and no wonder   The Barrage is tremendous and when we Hop over after the Barrage is lifted, he makes a very feeble resistance and thousands of them meet us with Hands up crying “Mercy Kommerads”.  Well Aunt I must now draw to a close as the post clerk is just going out with the mail. I will be getting my Furlong very shortly now.

I remain your affectionate nephew. Norman



Marjorie, the baby he mentions was  born 19th August 1917, and is the mother of the Gamble descendent who has persevered these family letters.  Norm’s brother Leo seems to have found a nice place to stay for the moment.


The fighting he describes was probably that at Passchendaele Ridge and Westhoek Ridge where the 1st battalion fought on October 1st to the 11th [8]. These were terrible battles in the mud and rain, with many deaths.  But, fortunately for Norm, while his unit was in this battle, he was at the 2nd Army Signals School, most probably in training on the wireless. 


His description of the enemy surrendering after heavy artillery is typical of descriptions from that time in the war during some of the back and forth attacks and retreats, but it did not happen at the fiercely fought battles mentioned above.   Norm rejoined his unit on the 17th of October 1917, just in time for their well deserved two months of recuperation after the battles, and more training for the troops. Norm was wrong in his June 25th letter about not getting leave for another 12 months; he was able to go on “holidays”  December the 21st 1917. 


His battalion was just south of Ypres at Kemmel in Belgium at the time, having spent all of December behind the lines training and recuperating.  Norm had 20 days leave coming, how would he spent it? 


Norm left on leave the 21st of December rejoining his battalion on January 11th 1918, he wrote a letter on the 16th of January.




My Dear Aunt Maggie  

I have arrived back at the Batt OK, but was very ill crossing over from Ireland. I was sick all the way,  it was the first time I have been Sea Sick since leaving Sydney.  I received two letters from Mother when I rejoined the Battalion and Papa, Mother and Roy were quite well at time of writing.  I am rather anxious about Leo as I have not heard from him for some time, and will write to him again today. The weather has been very miserable the last few days, heavy snow, followed by rain and wind. I hope the “Little Dinkum” is still keeping well. I was surprised to find a Baby so young, so very good and contented.  I must now say “Aur Revoir” with Fondest Love to Yourself, Uncle  & Baby, and hope this will find you all in the best of Health as it leaves me at present.                                    I remain Your Affectionate Nephew  Norman

P.S. Give my Love to all at “Baylough”. My cold is much better now.



Now we know where he spent that leave, in Ireland.  I have no idea how Norm got from France to Ireland then back to Belgium in 20 days.  How much time would he have been able to spend with the family he had never met?  However long the visit, you imagine how a 25 year old man felt going from the war to an Irish country home to visit family.  His nickname for the new baby, “Little Dinkum” has something of an Aussie ring to it. 


When Norm rejoined the 1st battalion on January 11th he found them in Belgium again, on the front line near Ypres.  Norm seemed to be missing some of  the action, the day before he arrived back General Birdwood visited the unit.  Although as consolation, Colonel Blamey visited the next day.  Norman experienced some very heavy fighting during the next month.  Once again we see the pattern of units being on or near the front for about a  week... or sometimes two, then moving back to more secure areas for recuperation and... more training.  Parts of this training were sporting contests but more often military contests, the battalion diary reports the competition results between units and individuals.


june Training

The 1st Battalion did not do as well as the 2nd


We also have a photo of Norm and his unit NCO'S below


Company NCOs

Norm 10th from right back row



He wrote on March 3rd 1918;



Belgium  3/3/18

 My Dear Aunt Maggie     I received your very welcome letter last week and I am pleased to hear that Yourself, Uncle and the “Little Dinkum” are keeping well.  We had a little snow today but we can expect anything this month which is so changeable. Taking all things in we have had an exceptionally fine winter, in fact it seems like spring when compared with last winter.  I received a Lovely big Xmas Cake in a parcel from Mother. I also received twoparcels from Roy, and one from the “Campbelltown Xmas Gift Committee” 

which contained everything a soldier could wish for.  I had a letter from Aunt Kate a few days ago and was very much relieved when she told me she had received a letter that day from Leo from Palestine, as I had a letter from Lynda, and she saw in the Casualty List where Leo Gamble had been killed in Action, and hoped that is was not my brother.  So you can understand how uneasy I was about him as I have not heard from him for such a long time.  I wrote to London enquiring about him but have not yetreceived an answer but feel sure he is allright now that Aunt Kate heard 
from him so recently.  It would break Mother’s Heart if anything were to happen to her Baby.  I must conclude now as I have to go on Duty.  Accept my Fondest Love to Yourself, Uncle and Little Margarie.  Hoping this letter will find you all in the best of Health as it leaves me at present.  

I remain  Your Affect Nephew   Norman    Give my kind regards to all at “Baylough”.




This letter was written while the battalion was on the front line at De Zon, Belgium 36 klm southeast of Ghent.  Does it strike you odd than an Australian soldier has been in Europe so long, he speaks of the weather as though he had always lived there, comparing this winter to the last.


The Campbelltown Christmas Committee has been written about in various local histories. Norm also wrote to his mother expressing thanks for this parcel, his letter to her was mentioned in the Campbelltown Herald on June 8th 1918. We can understand how  Norm’s worry over his brother must have been very serious after hearing Leo’s name was in causality lists as killed in action.  When this Lynda wrote to Norn perhaps, she did not think of this effect on him.


Welcome Parcel


Norm wrote on July 5th 1918;





Belgium 5/7/18

My Dear Aunt Maggie

Just a few lines to let you see I am still going strong, but it is ages since I heard from You.  I have just received a letter from Mother and they were all well at Home when the letter was written. Papa had been ill in bed for a  short time but was getting about again and feeling well at time of writing.  Richie and Roy were still in their old positions and getting on well.  Roy is  thinking of getting married this year, but Richie wants him to wait until  Leo and I get Home.  The last time I heard from Leo he was in the “Valley of the Jordan” and was quite well.  He said the heat there was very oppressive, the Valley being several Hundred feet below Sea Level. I am writing this letter under difficulties. I am on the phone in a pokey little  Dugout in the Front Line “Somewhere in Belgium”.  I have been promoted to Corporal, my second stripe was gazetted in April and means another  4/-a day, bringing my pay up to 10/-.  I am still in charge of my Old Section the Company Sigs.  How is the Little Dinkum?  Quite Well I hope.   Our Rations have arrived and I have to issue them to the Hqrs platoon so must say “Aur Revoir” with Fondest  Love to Yourself  Uncle & Margarie.  Hoping this will find you all in the best of Health I remain                    

your affectionate Nephew            



Norm was made acting Corporal on the 5th June 1918, his promotion was confirmed in July.  By August the battalion had moved into actions at Aubegny, Cerby, and around Harbonnieres France, where major operations occurred.  In September 1918 the battalion moved south into an area northeast of St Quentin to a town named Hargincourt, where Norman would be wounded a second time.  


The battalion war diary from September 15th Brusle area: Weather clear and bright, Battalion bathed during the day. Brigade operation order re attack on Hindenberg Line received. Enemy aircraft bombed area during the night, one down in flames. 


September 17th: Hesbecourt/Hargicourt area; Final instructions issued, battalion marched out at 11:30 pm, Battalion strength 23 officers 491 other ranks.


September 18th: Casualties one officer and 8 other ranks killed, 4 officers and 33 other ranks wounded 2 other ranks missing.


September 19th: 3 pm; Front line dispositions checked, 6:10 pm; rations arrived, 6;35 pm SOS signal sent up on left flank about 1500 yards off, enemy placed heavy barrage of 4 and 5.9’s on section.


Then on September 20th: 2:30 am rations arrive, 5:15 am Heavy counter barrage by our artillery.....  12:45 pm General Officer Commanding arrived and outlined plans for an attack on Ruby Wood...


By the time the attack on Ruby Wood was being outlined to the battalion, Norm Gamble with shrapnel wounds to his legs, back, and right foot had been picked up by the 2nd Field Ambulance and carried 15 klms to the 12th Causality Clearing Station at Tincourt, 7 klms east of Peronne, one of the 33 other ranks wounded.  Norm was transferred to the 1st Aust. General Hospital at Abbeville 110 klms to the west and admitted on the 21st then was transferred to England.  


After a month in Clacton On Sea hospital near Colchester, Norm was transferred to the 1st auxiliary Hospital in Harefield, this was a stately home made to accommodate up to 1000 beds at it’s busiest. It was not quite as nice as Bishops Knoll. 


Harefield Hospital


Harefield Hospital


Norm writes a letter from Harefield on the 2nd of November;



Ward 37  

1st A.A.Hospital

Harefield  2/11/18

My Dear Aunt Maggie I arrived here from Clacton-on-Sea on last Sunday,  this is an Australian  Hospital.  All the patients and Staff are Aussies.  The Sisters are fine Girls. They are very kind and work very hard to get the Boys back to home (condition before) they are going before the board.  I have been examined by the board here and marked for Home, and my name is on the second Hospital Ship Rolland I expect to Sail about this day week. I am very sorry to say that I am unable to visit you to say Good Bye , but I shall never forget your kindness, and I will often think of you all at Kilmeaden. I wish Leo could get across to see you and he may have a chance to do so soon now that thefighting is over in Palestine.  
I received three letters from Aussie and a parcel from Mother by todays mail  and I am pleased to hear that they were all well at Home at time of writing and Papa was quite strong again.  My wounds are healing fine but my foot still gives me a good deal of pain.  I must now say Good Bye with Best Love    hoping this letter finds you all inthe best of Health    


 I remain  Your Affectionate 

 Nephew Norman                                                                                                                            

Hospital Photos


Norman sent postcards to his family as well as the letters he wrote at Harefield. 

This one was taken after the sisters gave them a tea party.


After four years and five months away, Norm was going home, but he was due for a few more disappointments and scares. He wrote again in December.



Ward 37

1st A.A.Hospital  



 My Dear Aunt Maggie

 I received a letter from Mother a few days ago, and they were all well at  home at time of writing, except Papa who had an accident while splitting a  piece of wood,  he had to call in the Doctor and is doing well.   I hear from  Leo fairly often and the last letter was dated    9/11/18 and only reached  me yesterday,  he said some of the Light Horse Regiments were going to  Anzac to attend to the Graves there. I have had several disappointments  with the Hospital Ship and we expected to Sail for sureon Monday, but our Boat broke her propeller and so we have to wait.  Some chaps who only came in a few days ago were lucky enough to get on the  “Karoola” which sailed on Saturday,  the reason we missed was because  the “Konowa” was the best for the bad cases to travel on so we were  unlucky to be on the Roll of the Boat which broke down.  They say we will  Sail on the 27th Dec. I do not think I will be able to get leave before Sailing,   and I am sorry as I should very much like to spend Christmas with you.  I have been in bed for about 10 days , after an accident. The Crutch slipped and I fell with all my weight on the Foot and the Colonel took me off Massage and ordered me to remain in bed  and for a few days it was doubtful whether or not I would lose my foot but I am pleased to say the Danger is over now and I am  doing well.  The Sisters gave us a farewell Supper in the Ward on Friday  night and I got up for that and will enclose a flashlight Photo we had taken.  You will see me sitting on the floor. It was a fine turnout and we all enjoyed   ourselves very much and some patients & some V.A.Ds,  (I think!!) sang  several nice songs and the Boys asked me to get up and thank the Sisters for the Spread, and the Lady helpers and Musicians , and I can assure you  I was very nervous but managed to make a little speech of some sort.     I will be very pleased if you will send the large photo of yourself, Uncle and  “Little Dinkun” home to Aussie. I am sure they will be delighted at Home to receive it too.  I think the Photo of Marjorie is very nice indeed and she looks so well and jolly.  I  am sure she must be very amusing now that she is walking and I would  very much like to see her as I am very fond of Children, especially when  they are so good and contented like the Little Dinkum.  I must close with  Best Love to Yourself  Uncle  & Marjorie.  Hoping this will find you all in the best of Health,                        

I remain  Your affectionate Nephew  




Postcard of Ward



Postcards with photos, Norm is sitting on the floor, left side.


The Ward won a fifth place one pound prize for Christmas decorations. Norman also had another operation and was unable to write for a while. He says they are sailing for home Tuesday for sure. Norm later put a note on the top left, sailing Today! 

 After all those weeks at Harefield, Norm’s ship for home, the “Kanowna” sailed on January the 5th.  Before docking at Freemantle, four more men had died on board.   The Kanowna disembarked men along the route to Sydney where she docked on March 8th and was quarantined until the 14th.  How frustrating this must have been[9].  The Flu epidemic was raging and the Sydney authorities were cautious.


Norm posted a card from Colombo during the trip.



4th Feb 1919
My Dear Aunt Maggie,We are nearing Colombo, but I am sorry to say we will not be allowed  ashore as the Flue is raging there now. I am disappointed because I  intended to buy some things there for mother.  We have had a very decent  voyage so far and hope to reach Sydney about 4th March.  the weather  should be nice and cool then.  Just now we feel the heat almost unbearable.   We had sports on board on Saturday for the convalescent patients who are  nearly all men with limbs off.   Some of the events caused a great deal of  fun.  I will write from Freemantle so must close now with Fondest Love to Yourself  Uncle & the Little Dinkum    I am   your   affectionate nephew       Norman.
P.S. I am doing real well now.Give my Love to all at Baylough




Norman Gamble returned to life in Campbelltown continuing to live with his parents, who had moved into number 298 Queen Street, The Coach House. 


Norman Gamble’s name appears in a Honor Roll in the September 6th 1919 issue of The Campbelltown Herald, as well as the Campbelltown Public school Honour board here in this room.  His name appears again on October 6th 1921 when, as a member of the committee for the school of Arts Memorial Hall, he and several local identities attended a planning meeting.  In our collection we have a photo of Norm and his brother Roy at the laying of the foundation stone for this Memorial School of Arts, in 1920 by Sir Walter Davidson, Governor of NSW.  Norm sent a note along with this photo to family in Ireland.


School of Arts


Sometime after 1922/23 Norman met Mrs. Mary Annie Goldie.  “Molly”, as Mary was known, lived in Campbelltown from at least the early 1900’s to 1925.[10] Molly was married to James John Goldie who lived in Dumaresq Street among other places.  They had five children, the oldest drowned in Kidd’s Creek in January 1917.  James Goldie died in May 1922 leaving Molly with four living children.  Molly and Norman Gamble married in March 1926.


Norm commented in several letters of his fondness for children, he now had four, the oldest 16 the youngest 7 years old.  That youngest girl, Iris Mary remembered Norman fondly as the only father she ever had.  Molly and Norm moved around quite a bit, living at various times in Pyrmont, Burwood, Coogee Beach and Double Bay.  He also plied a number of trades such as carpenter and pest controller.


Norman and Molly


Norm did not have children of his own, he seemed to gather satisfaction in his step family.  Tom Heyhoe is the son of Iris Goldie the youngest step child, Iris was born in Queen Street in 1918.  Tom tells us that his “Grandfather” Norm, was a kind thoughtful and gentle man, Tom still has a dictionary Norman gave him.  Tom also has Norman’s world War 1 service medals, which he kindly lent me for photographing.  


Norms Medals


Norms life after the war, like many returned servicemen may not have been ideal, that seems to be one of the aftermaths of the war.   The Gentle nature Tom Heyhoe commented on was somewhat in contrast to that of Molly. Tom says:  “She seemed to have an uncertain and easily roused temper, as she grew angry her Glaswegian accent became pronounced.   She did not make life easy for her children”, or Tom suspects, Norm.  That temperament may have been influenced by the tragedies in her life.  She lost her oldest child when he was 9 years old, and, it is thought she lost two brothers in the war.


Norm Gamble died age 68 on the 21st of November 1960 at the Repatriation Hospital Concord.  They were living in Epping Road Double Bay at that time.  I would have liked the story to end with his being buried near his father and mother Thomas and Matilda Gamble, in St Peters, but he is at the church of England Northern Suburbs Cemetery.    Molly died around 1986 having remarried late in life.


The Gamble Family Story which will include parts of today’s Norm Gamble story, will be published in the first half of next year’s Grist Mills programme.  Thomas Gambles letters which we also have, cover some significant parts of Campbelltown’s history, they make interesting reading in that context...





[1] Campbelltown Herald, Jan 26, 1910

[2] John McQuilton, AWM Journal.  based on 8 embarkation rolls

[3]Campbelltown Herald various dates sports results

[4} AWM,

[5] AWM, Embarkation lists


[7] 1st Infantry Battalion unit war diaries AWM

[8] 1st Battalion AIF war diary October 1917,  1-10-17 to 11-10-17


[10] 1920-225 Sands directories


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