Major-General Cyril Albert Clowes.
Major-General Cyril Albert Clowes. Contributed

The journey from small-town kid to military hero

THE Warwick district has produced some fine military men and it is always hard to separate them. In the stories of Major-General Cyril Albert Clowes (WDN 6/8/2015) and that of Colonel William James Foster (WDN 25/4/2015), it was thought that these men were the greatest warriors to come from the district.

However, another hero who slipped under the radar was Norman, the younger brother of Cyril Clowes, and he , in the opinion of this humble historian, must be classed as the most outstanding military man born in Warwick.

So, here is the story of Major- General Norman Clowes (pictured), CBE, DSO, MC, MID (5) Croix de guerre, Aide-de-Camp to England's King George VI, 1945 - 1949.

Norman Clowes was born in Warwick on September 8, 1893, the second son to Albert and Beatrice Odling, of Lock St, Warwick.

Norman grew up in Warwick where his father Albert was the local dentist and in his early years attended Warwick Central School, before he was enrolled as a boarder at Toowoomba Grammar School. Tragedy struck the family when his mother died in 1898, but Albert remarried Vera and added four step-children to the Clowes's household.

Norman and his brother Cyril were inseparable as young boys and played cricket and football together.

They were often observed jogging to and from school as young students. Norman was nicknamed Nim, which was short for Nimrod, a biblical character who was a mighty hunter and sportsman, because of his sporting ability.

Coming from a military family where his father Albert was a Captain in the local militia, the 14th Light Horse Brigade, Norman and his older brother Cyril were intent on a military career.

Both applied and were accepted at the Royal Military College at Duntroon, in 1911. Norman was such an impressive young cadet there, he was selected in the College's Honour Guard at the opening ceremony for the naming of the College in 1913.

In August 1914, when England became embroiled in World War I, both Norman and Cyril were graduated early and commissioned as Lieutenants in the 1st Australian Imperial Force and embarked for the Gallipoli Peninsula on board the Troopship "A22 Rangatira” and were in the first landing on April 25, 1915. A few weeks later on May 5, Norman received a serious gunshot wound to the chest and was evacuated to Alexandria, Egypt, to recover. He was sent back to Gallipoli later, promoted to Captain, and was eventually sent to England and then France, where he was to distinguish himself in the battles of the Western Front.

On January 1, 1917, Norman was decorated for bravery in the field and was awarded the Military Cross for his actions. Two weeks later, Norman, now promoted to Major was further promoted to Staff Officer, 1st Division Artillery, where his work there as a tactician was recognised and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on June 3, 1918, for his service in the allied advance at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm. His citation read:

For meritorious devotion to duty as Staff Captain from March 1, 1916 until September 1, 1916, particularly with regard to the arrival and movement of Divisional artillery in France. In April and May last and especially for his work during the employment of the Divisional artillery in the capture of Pozieres, and following operations in July and August 1916.

Norman was decorated with the French award, the Croix-de-guerre, and continued his impressive army career until the war ended and he embarked for Australia on HMAT "Borda” to take up a new position at the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

Norman had decided to remain in the army, however, so seeking new adventures he applied for an exchange posting to England in 1921. Norman was so impressed with the British army that he transferred to them in 1921. He served on exchange with the Indian army from 1922 to 1930 and rose to the rank of Major-General.

In 1939 when World War II broke out, Norman served on General Alexander's staff in the Western Desert campaign with the British army, and, with the Italian collapse in North Africa, he was appointed as Military Governor in Tripoli, Algeria and Northern Italy, where he remained in that position until 1945.

When the war ended in 1945, Norman was to receive his highest honour when he was appointed as Aide-de-Comp to King George VI at Buckingham Palace, where he remained in this position until his retirement from the British Army in 1949.

The City of Warwick can be justly proud of Norman Clowes as he did not seem to get the accolades as his big brother Cyril, who won fame in New Guinea in the Battle of Milne Bay in World War II.

He was a true son of Australia and over the years visited Warwick whenever he could. It could also be said that with the service of his two step-brothers Kenneth, who served in Morotai, and Trevor who made the supreme sacrifice in New Guinea in 1942, along with their father Albert, the Clowes were a true Anzac family.

Norman Clowes lived in Chichester, England, for the remainder of his life and passed away in 1980 at the ripe old age of 87, but each Anzac Day in Warwick he should be remembered and revered, as the Warwick district's greatest soldier.

Lest we forget.

John Telfer

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