My Grandfather, Norman Henry Nicoll
So apart from sharing my Great Grandfathers pocket watch and all those other treasures with me, my Uncle Pete also shared my Pop’s war service medals with me.
My Pop was away from home for the entire time of the 2nd World War and stationed in Western Australia for most of that time. Fifty-two months to be exact. Having access to his service record at the National Archives is incredible. The handwriting is a bit of a challenge, but what a window into what he was doing at the time.
Slideshow 1: Courtesy of the Nicoll Family Archives
He lived however on the Eastern Coast of Australia in Earlwood, a suburb of Sydney. This is where all his family were, as well as the woman he loved and intended to marry. My Nan, Kathleen Ashton Raymond. Before Nan passed away in 2014 she shared what correspondence she still had of Pop’s from when he was stationed over there. Nan said that it was important to her that their part of the family story was safe.
They were not married before he enlisted in 1941. I’m unsure if he proposed because he was going away or if it had already happened before he was deployed. Either way, he absolutely adored her and couldn’t wait to be married. I do remember Nan telling me that as she was Catholic, the only way they could get married in the eyes of the Church was for Pop to convert to Catholicism from the Church of England. This may account for the delay, as there was a time period that Pop had to be a practising Catholic before the wedding could take place.
This is one of the letters he sent to her from Western Australia. I love it, as it just brings me so much closer to a man I wished I had gotten the chance to know better. (He passed away when I was six) It is a bit like looking into a mirror too. I can imagine me sending a letter like this to Alex if we were in this circumstance. The frustration and anger at the situation that he found himself in sounded scarily familiar too.
Pop was allowed leave to come back and marry Nan in 1943 for two weeks, but then had to return to Western Australia. Pop was an Armourer in this Armours Group.
Even though he wasn’t in a theatre of war, I’m still so very proud of his service. Like all my relatives who had to serve or remain home to look after those left behind.
This year, as ANZAC day was back on in a covid safe manner, Xander and Calan were able to wear Pops medals in the ANZAC march for the very first time.
Both Calan and Xander are members of the Great Lakes Band and played at the Dawn Service.
I have no doubt that my Pop would have been immensely proud of his Great Grandson’s honouring him in this way. I know Alex and I were. And I know for certain that my Nan would have been. She adored her Great Grandsons.
Lest We Forget…….