Fallen commander of the 53rd
The 53rd Battalion at the Battle of Fromelles was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ignatius Bertram [‘Bertie’] Norris. With permission I photographed his stained glass memorial window located inside the St Ignatius College Chapel. After leaving Riverview he studied and practiced law.
Bertie’s wife, Jane Elizabeth, had traveled with her husband. Their son John was born in Egypt where Australian units were being re-formed after Gallipoli for the battles in France. John Norris was 14 when the memorial window was blessed at Riverview in 1931. It is one of several commissioned by grieving families. A testament to their faith, and the service and ultimate sacrifice of sons, brothers and fathers.
Bertie Norris is also remembered in a side chapel at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
St Mary’s Cathedral has a bronze sculpture dedicated to the fallen soldier. Norris was one of those missing with no grave for his family to visit or grieve over, until a discovery in 2010.
His remains were re-buried at Pheasant Wood Cemetery after his DNA was identified in a mass grave dug by the Germans after the battle in 1916.
Lieut. Col. Norris is also honoured at the Australian War Memorial
For more about the fate Col. Norris’ battalion and the missing of Fromelles please read my article Cobbers remembered: Lost Diggers of the 53rd.