Serial No. 3274
2nd Battalion, & 54th Battalion
Norman Cate - Information
When Norman decided to enlist in the AIF, he was living in Middle Harbour, Sydney with his sister, Eileen. Norman was born in Douglas Park and later worked as a labourer. He signed up on the 7th of August 1915 in Warwick Farm, aged 26. During training, Norman was posted to the 15th Reinforcements, 2nd Battalion as a Private. He was then sent overseas onboard the HMAT Euripides on the 2nd of November 1915.
The Euripides reached Egypt in December, where Norman joined the 2nd Battalion in January 1916 after they returned from Gallipoli. On the 20th of April, he was taken on strength to the 54th Battalion at Ferry Post. In June, Norman and his new unit departed Alexandria for Marseilles in France. The 54th Battalion moved out to the frontline near Armentières, known as The Nursery. They would shortly experience their first assault, with the devastating Battle of Fromelles. Fromelles was designed to divert German reserves from the Somme operation and straighten Sugar Loaf Salient. Following a huge bombardment, the men raced out of the trenches at 6pm on the 19th of July. Some reached the first two German lines. However, progress slowed, as the troops struggled to advance through a barrage of machine gun fire. This combined with a German counter-attack, cut troops off from withdrawing to the safety of the trenches. It was a horrendous battle, with over half the 5th Division becoming casualties. During the battle, Norman was taken behind the lines, classed as wounded in action between the 19th and 20th of July. He was afflicted with shell shock, and was admitted to hospital on the 21st of July. Three days later, he was shipped to England from Boulogne, to Northamptonshire War Hospital. The speed in which he was evacuated to England, suggests that Norman was suffering with severe psychological trauma manifesting in overt physical symptoms. The intensity of the attack was too much, and without proper treatment, continued to suffer with symptoms throughout the year. Norman was incapable of returning to active duty and was sent back to Australia for a medical discharge.