Skip to main content

Norman Dunstan Rae was born in Forbes in 1889 to William Allwood Rae and Florence Johnson. His brothers William John Rae and George Huntley Rae saw service in the Camel Corps during WW1. Captain William John Rae was killed in action in 1917. His family later moved Forbes to Glenroi, Bathurst Road Orange when his father took up a position as a surveyor in the area.

At the time of enlistment Norman Rae had worked for three years as a teller with the Australian Bank of Commerce. He was farewelled by friends and fellow workers at the Club House Hotel at Coonabarabran, all of whom spoke highly of his gentlemanly manner and his ability as a good footballer and rower.

Norman enlisted at Liverpool on 9 October 1914 was posted to the 7th Light Horse Regiment. He was promoted to Orderly Room Corporal on 20 October 1914.

On 20 December 1914 Norman, along with other volunteer Australian troops, embarked on the HMAT Ayrshire at Sydney. In December of 1914 he was promoted to Orderly Room Sergeant. He was hospitalised in Alexandria, Egypt, on 26 May 1915 and then returned to duty at Gallipoli on 29 May 1915.

HMAT Ayrshire. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

After four months in the trenches illness struck again. Sergeant Rae was admitted to the hospital ship Guildford Castle on 20 September 1915 suffering from influenza and dysentery. On 29 September he was transferred to the 21st General Hospital at Alexandria suffering from enteric fever. He embarked HMAT Wandilla at Suez and returned to Australia on 13 December 1915.

HS Wandilla. Image courtesy Australian War Memorial.

Sergeant Rae was discharged from the AIF on 22 March 1916 and accorded a hero’s welcome on his arrival at Orange Railway Station.

In 1910 Norman married Ruby Jean Lennox in Bourke. This marriage ended in divorce in 1916 and he married Jessie Winifred Hill in Grenfell in 1919. Two sons, Robin and David, came from this union.

In 1930 Norman and Jessie moved from West Wyalong to Sydney and at the time of Norman’s death in 1953 they lived at Dee Why. The cause of death was attributed to his war service and Jessie was given a suitable pension. His ashes were interred in the Northern Suburbs Memorial Garden at North Ryde.

Norman Dunstan Rae is remembered on the Honour Roll at Holy Trinity Church Orange.

* Sharon Jameson, August 2018

Norman Dunstan Rae memorial plaque. Image courtesy Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens, North Ryde.