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A tribute to...

Norman Bernard Pfoeffer

Published: Tue 9th Nov 2021

"A story of modest beginnings, a busy working life and ambitious plans curtailed by The Depression and interrupted by war service, Norman was a man of his generation."

- by Veronica O'Mara

Norman Pfoeffer was born at "Glen Ayr" 35 Kingston Road, Stanmore on 1st July 1914.

The family moved to Norman's Grandfathers' orange orchard, "Leslie View" in Seven Hills before settling in Blacktown in 1923. The family lived in the home his grandfather built which was also used as the first Police Station in Blacktown. Norman had a very happy childhood shared with his sister Claire and brothers Kenneth and Allan.  

Educated at Granville Central Technical School, Norman was Junior Athletics Champion 1929, at age 15.

Norman enlisted in the A.I.F in July 1940 out of conviction and loyalty to defend his country and family. As a NSW Government Railways employee, he was not permitted to enlist any earlier because he was required for essential service. After training at Goulburn Camp, Norman moved to Tamworth. 

In May 1941, he joined as a reinforcement in the 6th Division 2/1st A.I.F 16th brigade, The City of Sydney's own A.I.F. battalion and sailed from Australia aboard "Queen Mary" for Egypt, and then on to Syria. He also served in Palestine as a Corporal.

After the defeat of the Germans in the Middle East, Norman embarked with the 16th and  17th brigades for Singapore. However, at Aden, news told of the fall of Singapore and the convoy was diverted to Ceylon. After three months on defensive duties, they sailed for Fremantle. In August 1942, the battalion disembarked in Port Melbourne and entrained at Mangalore in country Victoria, where he was given 14 days leave.

On 13th September 1941, to counter the Japanese advance in New Guinea, the battalion sailed on vessel "Anhui" to Port Moresby from Brisbane and Townsville. While in Brisbane the troops had to load their own ship after the wharf labourers refused to do so unless they were paid overtime. In Townsville the crew walked off the ship and the soldiers had to man the ship themselves. Then the battalion set off to New Guinea to meet the Japanese threat on the Owen Stanley Range.

Norman's battalion was to play a major part in driving back a determined enemy, the task made harder by terrible terrain and appalling weather conditions, together with tropical diseases. Places like Templeton's Crossing, Eora Creek, Wairopi, Popondetta, Sanananda and Soputa.

One of the biggest actions fought by the battalion resulted in very heavy casualties over a 24-hour period. They were held up on the Sanananda track near Soputa by numerically superior Japanese forces who were well dug in, in fortified positions. With Australians lacking air support, the battalion set about attacking the Japanese who were supported by a 75-millimetre field gun.

The scale of casualties suffered at Sanananda was extensive and finally the exhausted battalion was relieved by U.S. Regiments. Having contracted Scrub, Typhus and Malaria, Norman had to be airlifted from Popondetta and sent by hospital ship from Port Moresby to Townsville to recover. Sadly, Norman suffered for many years with recurring bouts of Malaria.

After military life, Norman resumed his NSW Government Railways career and advanced from Junior Porter, Toongabbie Station to Senior Train Controller Sydney Central Station after nearly 43 years of service. As a single man, Norman worked at many stations Pendle Hill, Parramatta, Central Station Cleaning Sheds, Museum, Ardlethan and Queanbeyan.

On leave in Tamworth in 1941, Norman had met his wife Veronica Pearce. Veronica, a nursing sister from St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney was nursing in Tamworth before transferring as a nursing Sister to the munitions factory in Bathurst. Norman and Veronica married at St. Patrick's Church, Parramatta on 28th Dec 1943 and had five children Paul (dec) Angela, Veronica, Adrian and Phillip and 11 grandchildren. Norman's dear wife Veronica passed away in 1988. Norman sadly passed away in February 2009. 

Norman's whole interest was family, friends and The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway in Concord, where he volunteered as a guide during school excursions and Kingsgrove R.S.L.. Norman was a most welcome helper and valued assistant who had a special interest in the family business in Kingsgrove for 20 years. 

A loyal and proud Australian, Norman was devoted to his family and was proud of the Armed Forces. A story of modest beginnings, a busy working life and ambitious plans curtailed by The Depression and interrupted by war service, Norman was a man of his generation. He worked hard for a living and passed on values of honesty, patriotism, commitment to family, loyalty to family and friends. While he possessed a quiet personality, when Norman spoke, people around him listened and took notice of his wisdom and his authority.

Norman's family are extremely proud to have had Norman as part of their treasured heritage.  They admire his contribution to making Australia a safer place to live-out the good values of life. His upright bearing and exemplary manner inspire the family to imitate this extraordinary Australian - Norman Pfoeffer. 

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Lest we forget.

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