HE IS hardly a household name, yet one of our district’s highly decorated war heroes has been remembered on the anniversary of the Charge at Beersheba.
Leading his squadron in the famous charge, Nanneella’s Captain Norman Gordon Rae was responsible for single-handedly capturing over 60 prisoners while under heavy fire.
Norman Gordon Rae was a 28-year-old farmer when he enlisted at Broadmeadows on August 20, 1914.
The outbreak of war saw a keen Norman bring a contingent of men from Rochester to Melbourne, all eager to enlist.
The famous Charge at Beersheba was a surprise attack to capture the city and take control of the wells to provide much needed water for the horses.
The city itself was heavily defended by Turkish trenches and the first task of the Light Horsemen was to jump over the trenches and reach the wells as quickly as possible before the enemy could destroy them.
Captain Rae was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry at Beersheba.
‘‘During the regiment’s mounted attack on the hostile trenches, he single-handedly captured over 60 prisoners, and set a fine example to his men under extremely heavy rifle and machine-gun fire,’’ the citation for the Military Cross said.
In securing the town, the 4th Light Horse captured 738 Turkish officers and men, a monumental feat under heavy fire.
In May 1918, Norman returned to Egypt and assumed command of A Squadron.
Norman spent some of 1919 on leave in England and late that year embarked for Australia, being demobilised on November 8, 1919.
Norman returned to farming in Victoria and then New South Wales.
By 1937 he lived at the The Overflow, Nymagee, New South Wales.
The famous property gave its name to Clancy of The Overflow by Banjo Paterson.
Norman was a shire councillor for 10 years.
In 1958 he moved to Seaford, in Victoria, where he remained until his death at Frankston in 1977.
Norman Rae’s great-nephews Don and Gordon McQueen were on hand at the recent commemoration at the Nanneella Hall to mark the centenary of Beersheba.
Don also brought a photo of his father, Don senior, in his junior years at the Rochester Football Club in 1927.
The family of Don senior and the club would like to ask people if they know anyone in the photo.
If you know of someone in the photo please email [email protected]