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From Bank to Battlefield

Norman Wilson

Photo of Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Hilmer Smith
 

Norman Wilson was a 20-year-old clerk at the Melbourne office of the Commonwealth Bank when he enlisted. He had gained prior military experience having spent 12 months training in the Public School cadets.

He served in the 14th Battalion, which along with the 13th, 15th and 16th Battalions formed the 4th Brigade commanded by Colonel John Monash.

Norman was awarded a Military Cross for conspicuous bravery near Harcourt after it was reported he led his company with great dash and skill, keeping his command under splendid control though hampered first by dense fog and later by considerable enemy fire. Though the troops on his left side were held up he fought on with the aid of the only tank left standing and carried the village, captured many machine guns and over 200 prisoners. He then pushed on further and took practically the whole Battalion frontage on the Red line, enabling the Battalion following to leap-frog through.

He sent back valuable information throughout and the success of his company was largely due to his personal energy and daring, which it was said, provided a splendid example to all ranks.

Service Summary 18 September 1914, enlisted in 14th Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces
22 December 1914, embarked HMAT Ulysses A38, Melbourne
14 February 1918, wounded (gassed, mild), admitted to St John’s Ambulance Hospital
16 September 1918, awarded Military Cross for conspicuous bravery near Harcourt on 8 August 1918
6 October 1919, discharged from service
Rank Captain
Service Number 149
Age at enlistment 20 years
Role at Bank Clerk

Source: National Archives of Australia

Snippet from a Banknotes article about Norman Wilson

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From Belgium, under date 13th March. Captain N. Wilson of our Melbourne Branch and now with the 14th Battalion, A.I.F., writes to the Editor of Bank Notes:

“Many thanks for copy of Bank Notes just to hand. I consider it an excellent idea, and I wish it every success in the future. The list of officers abroad is very interesting, as prior to this one had little idea of who were representing the Bank in this modern clearing house.

“I am temporarily in command of this battalion, but hope to be relieved shortly and to start on a grand tour, including Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Venice, Florence, Rome and Brussels.

“Here's one for your magazine, and actually happened too! At a recent sale of Australian horses and mules in this village, a Belgian auctioneer regarding a poor specimen of a mule, loudly shouted, ‘Un mille franc pour un grand moule!’ A digger, hearing this, and knowing the mule well, was heard to exclaim, ‘ ’Streuth! A million francs for a … old mule like that!’

“I don’t expect to get back to Melbourne till about September.”

Source: Bank Notes magazine – May 1919, page 8

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