Humanity in War

Norman Reid’s Armband

When Norman Victor Reid went to join the AIF at Sydney on 11 February 1915 he was still 11 months short of the minimum age for enlistment (19). So, he took with him a letter from his father giving him permission to join the Army Medical Corps and go to the front. Norman was accepted and in April embarked on a transport bound for Egypt.

Private Reid, No. 1856, served at the No. 2 Australian General Hospital at Gezira, Cairo, until 17 October 1915 when he was sent to Gallipoli on attachment to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station (1ACCS) at Anzac Cove. It was there that he was given the armband (technically a brassard) to wear on the upper arm over his uniform.

Comprised of two layers of white cotton with a Red Cross sewn on, the armband indicated that Norman was a non-combatant serving in a medical capacity. The name of Colonel Howse, Deputy Director of Medical Services at Gallipoli, was written in black ink next to the cross.

The men of 1ACCS were among the last to leave Anzac Cove, evacuated in two groups on 20 December 1915, and Norman remained with the unit when it was moved to northern France.

At the end of the war he was sent to England and left Southampton on 15 April 1919 as a member of the nursing staff on the SS Wyreema. He disembarked at Sydney in June and was discharged in August.

Norman held on to the armband as a memento of his service during the Great War, and it was still in his possession in 1967 when he moved to Port Macquarie where he spent the last 20 years of his life.