Norm Ensor had just turned 17 when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force just after Christmas, 1941. Two of Norm's older brothers were already serving and he was keen to join them and 'do his bit' for Australia. Norm's parents were convinced he would not pass the Army medical exam because he could not see properly out of his left eye, so they allowed him to attempt to enlist. They were more than a little surprised when Norm received an A1 health clearance!

Norm was sent to Tamworth, NSW, to begin signals training. He underwent further training at Parramatta before being sent to Queensland as a linesman with 2 Corps Signals. In November 1942, he was posted to Papua New Guinea to serve with New Guinea Force Signals, redesignated New Guinea Line of Communication Signals the following month. His section was sent over the Kokoda Track, completing the difficult job of laying D8 cable across the mountains for communications between Port Moresby and the forward area.

Norm and his section ended up at Popondetta during the battles for Buna, Gona and Sanananda. Most of their work was in the Gona area. They were responsible for laying and maintaining a series of telephone lines around the battle fronts, providing essential communications between units serving in the area. Norm recalled the work was often dangerous, as Japanese snipers were ready to attack linesmen who were sent to repair broken or cut lines. Like all of the men in the area, the signallers also battled with tropical diseases, such as malaria, with several men eventually evacuated due to their condition.

Once the Australian and American forces had overrun the last Japanese forces in the area, Norm was ordered back to Port Moresby. He remained there with the 7th Australian Line Maintenance Section until December 1943, when he embarked for Australia . He was posted to Melbourne to serve at a signals camp. While in Melbourne, he met up with the former commanding officer of his section in New Guinea who asked Norm to accompany him 'back up north'. Norm joined the 13th Line Maintenance Section in Queensland , as it was readying to proceed overseas.

The 13th Line Maintenance Section went to Morotai, where Australian forces were preparing for the invasion of Borneo. Norm took part in the campaign at Balikpapan as part of the 7th Division Signals, laying and maintaining communications lines around the battle area. He was still performing these duties when the war ended.

On his return to Australia in 1946, Norm married his fiancée, Betty, who had been waiting for him to come home from the war. Norm returned to his job as a grocer and owned his own business for several years before moving to Sydney to manage several grocery stores in the eastern suburbs. Norm and Betty have a daughter, Christine, three grandsons and three great-grandchildren.

These days Norm enjoys playing the organ for his local Anglican Church and is a member of the Theatre Organ Society. He is also an active supporter of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway at Concord, serving as a volunteer guide at the memorial.


Norm with students from Picnic Point Public School

Norm Ensor