Saturday, 7 December 2013

Thrown from his horse

Norman John Embelton's war ended just as most other's started

Navy Pay Clerk Norman John Embelton (sometimes spelled Embleton) was born in 1894 in Victoria's north-west, at Lake Charm, near Kerang. (Coincidentally, I was born in Kerang nearly 60 years later.) His father Robert was a teacher with the Victorian Education Department, so the family moved around the state but by the time of Norman's death on 31 March 1915, he lived with his parents in Westgarth Street, Northcote. He was only 20, but had already served in the Australian Navy and like Oriel Ashton had served in New Guinea. At the time of his death he was home on leave suffering from malaria. No doubt he thought that now that the German raiders had been cleared from the area and German New Guinea had fallen, he would soon be heading to Egypt on board one on the many troopships destined to cross the water on their way to Egypt, the Dardanelles and ultimately France and Belgium.

A cat placed on a chair on deck with a dog called Cabby. The dog was picked up while swimming in the Sepik River, New Guinea, and then served in the Australian Navy New Guinea Flotilla from 1914 to 1919. (Donor Captain A.G. Bond)  
Image courtesy AWM. Image H15227.

Norman Embleton's war was cut short on 30 December 1915. He was riding along Epping Road, Preston with friends when his horse stumbled and bolted. He was unseated, his foot stuck in the stirrup and he was dragged a considerable distance by the stirrup leather before his friends managed to extricate him. He was taken to hospital unconscious and died the next day.

He is buried in the Church of England section of Coburg Cemetery, Compartment P, Grave 479.

Coburg Cemetery Gates, c. 1908. 
Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

His older brother David, a doctor, had left for the war in November 1914 and served on the Gallipoli Peninsula and France. A Major, David Moore Embelton was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Military) and was twice Mentioned in Despatches and returned to Australia in April 1919.

Sources include: Darebin's Great War - In Memorium, p.191; Service records held at the National Archives of Australia; Coburg Cemetery records;  Argus, 14 April 1915, p.10; Adelaide Register, 1 April 1915, p10; Weekly Times, 3 April 1915, p.33; Patsy Adam-Smith, The Anzacs.

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