Lieutenant Norman Frederick Gammell

Norman Frederick Gammell, brother of Alan, was born in Montreal, Quebec on June 30, 1890. Norman enlisted in September 10, 1915, as a private with the Fourth Universities' Company, Princess Patricia's, giving his occupation as assistant to the superintendent of a pulp and paper company. Prior to that he had been working for the North Shore Navigation Company at Clarke City, near what is now Sept-Iles, Que. He was a short man: 5 ft., 4.5 in., with fair hair and blue eyes. He never married.

Norman was a graduate of the High School of Montreal, where he was remembered as a good athlete, playing on the football and hockey teams. He continued playing football while in the Army. Like Alan, Norman was an outdoorsman and canoeist.

Norman was severely wounded at Sanctuary Wood, Ypres in June 1916. His brother, Alan, described his courage under fire: "My brother Norman was wounded in the back. I saw him for awhile as he stuck around for awhile to carry up ammunition until his shoulder was that bad that he had to go down. He had a hard job getting down to the dressing station as he had to crawl on his stomach for a long way. I was mighty glad when I had a note from him when he got to a general hospital. He is in a ward run by Harvard University. His shoulder blade is fractured and the splinter of the shell is still in his shoulder. He expects to go to England before long." After several months' convalescence, he was commissioned a lieutenant and was attached to the 7th Reserve Battalion in England. He rejoined his unit in October 1917 and was on active service till his death.

On August 26th, 1918, Norman was killed in action at Jigsaw Wood, a few kilometres northeast of the town of Monchy. This was the first day of the Battle of the Scarpe which lasted from August 26-28, 1918.

According to the official Regimental history, Jigsaw Wood "gave admirable cover for machine guns, in the lavish use of which the German now chiefly placed his trust." Norman's younger brother, Robert, who served with the Princess Pat's in World War II, was at a regimental reunion some years later when he met a soldier from Norman's platoon who witnessed his death. He said they were fighting the Germans on open ground with only a few hedges and fences for cover. There was heavy machine gun fire and lots of cross firing. This person last remembered seeing Norman jumping over a hedge or a fence before getting hit by machine gun fire. The regimental history states that Norman died sometime before 2:55 pm on August 28. Norman Gammell was 28 years old when he died. He is buried in the Vis-en-Artois Cemetery, Haucourt, southeast of Arras, France.

Norman's family in Montreal first received news that their son was "missing in action," and held out hope for several weeks that he would be found alive. When the news later reached them that he was dead, Isaac Gammell (Norman's father) was very bitter that he had lost his favourite son in the last few months of the war. It was always felt that after he was wounded in June 1916, he could have returned to Montreal as a result of his injuries. Instead he chose to return to the front, when he declared in front of a medical board that he "was fit to serve."

This account was contributed by Norman Gammell's great nephews, Ian Darragh and Traver Gammell.

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