318 Lance Corporal Herbert Norman May

Posted on 15 April 2021
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Herbert "Bertie" Norman May was born on the 18th of March 1894, at Tabulam, NSW, being the fifth child of William John May and Henrietta Sarah Ware.

Bertie had eight siblings and attended Drake Primary School from 1899.

He was a member of the local militia, joined the 9th Infantry on 1 July 1912 and was promoted to Corporal on the 13th of September 1913. Bertie transferred to the 12th Infantry on the 1st of July 1914.

Working as a sawmill employee, Bertie was appointed to the Casino Volunteer Fire Brigade on the 15th of July 1914. After only a few months, he was “Struck Off” on the 30th of September 1914, due to enlisting into the 15th Battalion, AIF, on the 15th of September 1914. Given the number 318, Bertie was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 1st of October 1914.

After initial training, Bertie embarked on HMAT A40 Ceramic in Melbourne on the 22nd of December 1914, sailing for Egypt, via Albany.

Bertie, alongside his 15th Battalion comrades, went ashore at Gallipoli about 16:00 hours on the 25th of April 1915.

On the morning of the 9th of May, the Commanding Officer of the 15th Battalion, Colonel Cannan, ordered an attack the enemy’s trenches in front of Quinn’s Hill. This was in line with the aggressive policy of making minor attacks on the Anzac front and to find out what the Turks were doing.

The attack proceeded at 22:30 hours and was a partial success but part of the trench was Turkish-occupied and could not be dislodged, so troops withdrew back to the 15th’s original position.

The withdrawal was completed at 06:00 hours and the Turks put in a determined counter attack at 07:00 hours, countered by the soldiers of the 15th. But the 15th had suffered 160 killed and wounded during the withdrawal to their original position.

One of those killed was Bertie.

His body was most likely buried at the cemetery at Quinn’s Post during the armistice that was agreed upon between the Australians and Turks on the 20th May.

Bertie was reinterred at Johnston’s Jolly Cemetery in 1919.

In March 1920, one of Bertie May’s identity discs was found in the vicinity of Pope’s Hill and returned to his family.

The NSW Fire Brigades Volunteer Register, records May as having been “Killed in Action, Dardenelles”.

For his service, Herbert "Bertie" Norman May received the:

1914 / 15 Star

British War Medal

Victory Medal