Norman John MADDEN MC

Poppy

MADDEN , Norman John

Service Number: 1223
Enlisted: 15 January 1915
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 22nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Bellarine, Victoria, Australia, March 1895
Home Town: East Geelong, City of Greater Geelong, Victoria
Schooling: Marcus Hill State School, Vic
Occupation: Engine-Driver
Died: Killed in Action, Herleville, France, 18 August 1918
Cemetery: Heath Cemetery, Picardie
Plot VI, Row G, Grave No. 14
Memorials: East Geelong War Memorial, Mannerim State School & District Roll of Honor, Marcus & Mannerim Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

15 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1223, 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1223, 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1223, 22nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne
29 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1223, 22nd Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
1 Oct 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Gallipoli
4 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 1223, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
2 Oct 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, France
3 May 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 1223, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second), GSW to neck.
28 May 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, France
20 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Menin Road
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge
9 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Battle of Poelcapelle
13 Dec 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Belgium
19 May 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front", GSW to back sustained in an attack at Ville sur Ancre, France.
18 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 22nd Infantry Battalion
17 Sep 1918: Honoured Military Cross, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front", 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During an attack this officer, who was in charge of a fighting patrol, attacked single handed a machine gun that was checking our advance, and put the gun out of action, capturing the whole of the detachment. He then advanced with another man on a second gun, successfully bombing it, and killing two of the enemy. Our advance was then resumed. In this encounter he was wounded, but remained at his duty until the position was consolidated and he was ordered to leave. He set a fine example of courage and resolution to the men of his platoon.'

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Biography contributed by Peter Rankin

He was a Gallipoli veteran

Biography contributed by Robert Wight

Norman Madden was born in March 1895 near Geelong, Victoria, the fifth of eight children born to Patrick and Susan Madden. Before the outbreak of the First World War, Madden worked as an engine driver and gained military experience by serving in a local militia infantry unit.

Madden enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 15 January 1915 and started five months training at the Broadmeadows camp in Victoria. On 10 May 1915, he sailed from Melbourne, bound for Egypt, aboard the transport ship Ulysses.

After a brief period of further training in Egypt, Madden transferred to Gallipoli, where he served in the 22nd Infantry Battalion, which formed part of the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Australian Division. Madden arrived on Gallipoli in September 1915 as the campaign was coming to an end. He remained on the peninsula with his unit until the final evacuation of Anzac forces in December.

After the evacuation of Gallipoli, the Australian Imperial Force transferred to Egypt and underwent a period of growth and reorganisation. Known as the doubling of the AIF, new troops from Australia were mixed with veterans of the Dardanelles campaign to ensure that new Australian units had a good mix of new and experienced soldiers. Madden remained in the 22nd Battalion, and in March sailed for France and the war on the Western Front.

Madden entered the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on 31 July 1916, while his unit was in the field during the bloody battle of Pozieres. Just days after his arrival, on 4 August, Madden and the 22nd Battalion took part in a major attack on German lines. After a three-minute long bombardment, Australian troops assaulted the German trenches and successfully took their objectives, then proceeded to successfully defend against German counter-attacks and artillery fire. Madden and the 22nd Battalion remained in the front-line trenches until 6 August, by which time the Australian 2nd Division, of which they were part, had suffered nearly 7,000 casualties in 12 days of fighting.

For the next seven months, Madden and the 22nd Battalion endured the hardships and terrors of trench warfare. They transferred from the Somme region of northern France to the Ypres sector of Belgium, and endured one of the coldest winters in living memory. The field diary of Madden’s 22nd Battalion recorded in February 1917 that the freezing conditions turned the seas of mud into a shell-pitted wasteland of iron frost. Men required picks to shift the earth, and the long, dark nights were only broken by the sharp light of gunfire.

In March [correction May] 1917, Madden and the 22nd Battalion participated in an attack on German positions at Favreuil, north-east of Amiens in France. In this successful joint British and Australian action, the troops attacked in the early hours of the morning under cover of an intense artillery barrage. As the men charged the German positions they came under heavy machine-gun fire, and Madden was wounded by a gunshot to the neck. He was evacuated to hospital, and did not rejoin his unit until 21 March [correction May].

In September 1917, Madden and the 22nd Battalion moved north to the Ypres sector of Belgium. In October, they participated in some of Australia’s bloodiest battles, including Broodseinde and Poelcappelle. In the unsuccessful attack at Poecappelle, Australia suffered over 1,250 casualties in a single day.

Throughout his service, Madden showed himself to be a reliable soldier, and he was promoted several times. By late 1917, he had reached the rank of Lieutenant. Madden also showed himself to be a talented sportsman. At a battalion sports competition in at Kemmel Huts in November 1917, he excelled as one of the unit’s best football players, and easily won the 440- yard and 880- yard running races. At a brigade-level sports competition in December 1917, he came second in the 880 and 3rd in the 440. His battalion’s field diary records that “Lieutenant Madden showed himself to be a great athlete, and did much to bring the battalion well forward in points.”

On 19 May 1918, Madden and the 22nd Battalion took part in a successful attack at Ville-sur-Ancre in northern France. The attack began at 2 am after an artillery barrage, and Madden’s B Company formed the left flank of the advance.

During the action, Madden was leading a fighting patrol to consolidate and protect the left flank when a German machine-gun opened fire on the Australians. Madden single-handedly rushed the German gun, captured it, and took the crew prisoner. A second machine-gun then opened fire, so Madden with another soldier made a second attack and again silenced a German machine-gun. The capture of the German guns made the rest of the advance possible for his platoon.

Madden was wounded in this action, receiving a gunshot wound to the back, but despite his injuries, he remained on duty until the consolidation of their position was complete. Madden was hospitalised for his injuries, and did not rejoin his unit until July. He was awarded the Military Cross for his action, his citation reading that “By his dash and courage he set a splendid example to his Platoon”.

On 18 August 1918, Madden and the 22nd Battalion took part in the attack on German lines at Herleville, south of the Somme River. At 4.15 am, after a two-minute bombardment, the Australian troops leapt into no-man’s-land into heavy German machine-gun fire. Soon after the attack began, Madden was near an area of the front known as “Crucifix Corner” when he was shot in the stomach and died instantly. He was 23 years old.

Lieutenant Norman Madden is buried in the Heath Cemetery in France, where nearly 1,500 soldiers of the First World War now lie.

Source: AWM, David Sutton (author)

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