For more than 100 years, ANZAC Day has marked the time for Australia and New Zealand to pay tribute to soldiers who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
It’s an important part of our nation and DSA’s history. Norm Anderton MBE OAM, was our founding chair for more than 20 years but before that, he served in the 8th Division Signals, having joined the army in 1940 when he was just 19.
While serving in Malaya in 1941, Japanese forces invaded and Norm was injured from a shrapnel wound to the neck. He was taken to the British Army Hospital in Singapore for treatment but during his recovery became a prisoner of war in Changi after the Japanese came to power.
As a prisoner of war, Norm worked on the Burma-Thailand railway until 1944, and finally returned home to Australia in November, 1945. He was discharged from the army by the end of the year.
When remembering his time in service, Norm called out the mateship between his fellow service men and women as one of his strongest lasting reminders.
“We had a saying that no man died alone. No matter what the circumstances, there was always someone to hold a mate’s hand, or sit with him during his last moments.”*
This kind of mateship, commitment and loyalty to others is something Norm continued to uphold long after he returned home from service.
Once home, Norm returned to work at Surf Living Saving and married his wife Aileen in 1946. They had three children, the first being Lorraine who was born in 1947 and diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability.
Ten years later in 1957, Norm and his family were one of DSA’s original founding families, and Lorraine was one of DSA’s first participant employees at our original Camperdown workshop.
Norm was a strong campaigner for people with disability for the remainder of his life. He was instrumental in DSA growing its services beyond the initial workshop with his leadership, advocacy and lobbying.
Sadly, Norm passed away in October last year, but his legacy remains. This ANZAC Day we remember Norm and his commitment to Australia and DSA, and the fighting spirit he displayed in everything he did, including campaigning for more opportunities for all people with disability.
*Quote courtesy of Norman Anderton’s story – Anzac Portal
Photograph provided by Norm Anderton.