When war was declared in August 1914, three brothers from country Cootamundra joined up. They were Sidney Pinkstone (22), his brother Victor (19) and Norman (20). The boys were all employed at the family owned newspaper, The Cootamundra Herald. They sailed together on the Australian Troop Ship Euripides, disembarking in Egypt.

Norman (left) Victor (right, Sidney (seated)

All three took part in the dawn landing at Gallipoli on April 25 1915. Victor was wounded that day, but recovered and returned to the front. Several months later came the bloody Battle of Lone Pine. It is difficult to comprehend what happened to the brothers during this action.

The Pinkstone brothers fought at Lone Pine.
Carnage in the trenches at Lone Pine.

Particulars of the late Private Victor Pinkstone have been sent from Gallipoli by his brother Norman, who was with him when he died. A small party of men were left in charge of a Turkish captured trench. They were only a handful, and had a hard fight to hold it all the night before. At daylight Norman left Vic, in charge of his section, and went back to his post. Word then came to Norman that poor Vic. had been wounded. When Norman got back to him, Vic, said, “Don’t worry Norman, I’m done for. Say goodbye to everyone for me. Just give me a drink I’m in no pain. All feeling has left me.” And while Norman was preparing a bandage, Vic. died, smiling and happy. There is a little consolation in knowing that he did not suffer. He was wounded in the back with shrapnel, and paralysed.

Norman was knocked out a few hours afterwards – picked up insensible from shock from a bomb that burst at the back of him, and he was carried off to the hospital. Sid Pinkstone was wounded about the same time. (Gosford Times, October 1 1915)

Sidney Pinkstone had been shot in the thigh and spent five weeks recuperating on the Isle of Lemnos. The report of Norman’s injury on his war service record stated that he had been buried under debris and was extensively bruised. A more detailed account was published in the Cootamundra Herald by his brother Frederick;

It appears that on Saturday, August 8th, a perfect hail of bombs came into the trench where Norman was, three of which burst directly behind him, a pellet passed through the mess tin which he was wearing, and the vibration knocked him forward, and he struck his head against the side of the trench, rendering him insensible. The next he remembered was when he came to his senses in a communicating trench, with a couple of Army Medical Corps men attending to him. He was moved straight away to the hospital ship…’

Bruises fade, but the effects of the physical and emotional trauma he suffered during those early days of August with his brothers would be more difficult to overcome.

The three Pinkstone brothers.

Norman was repatriated to hospital in Egypt, grieving for Victor and worried sick about Sid, unaware that his older brother was recuperating on Lemnos;

Letter from  Norman Pinkstone written in Cairo.

Norman did return to Gallipoli, as did Sid. The pair remained until the evacuation in December. There was a cruel parting shot for Norman from the Peninsular, as his kit bag with all his clothes and mementoes was lost overboard the night they left.

Subsequently the young men were sent to the trenches in France. Both were promoted to the rank of Captain, and in 1918 Sidney was awarded the Military Medal. Norman was mentioned in dispatches in November the same year. As journalists, they sent home a stream of good humoured, informative letters. On a more sober note, they passed on news of wounded, missing, and dead mates to family and friends. Many of these letters were published in the Herald.

As the war neared its end it was clear that Norman was reaching the end of his tether, and no wonder after what he had been through over four long years;

A letter is to hand from Captain Norman Pinkstone, from Flanders. Norman states that he is having a very rough time of it. His leave to ‘Blighty’, which he cabled about some time ago, got postponed owing to the scarcity of reinforcements. A photo accompanying the letter certainly shows Norman to be looking aged and war-worn. (Cootamundra Herald February 15 1918)

In the years that followed Norman became a very successful orchardist and fruit distributor. However, he struggled with memories of the war, and especially of the events at Lone Pine.

In October 1935 he was on a trip to Sydney, primarily for dental treatment and to see a nerve specialist. He had booked a phone call with his wife and young children, back in Cootamundra. However, by the time that call came through he had left the Hotel and simply vanished. His luggage remained in his room. His hotel key and other personal items were found neatly stacked by the kerb outside the parcel office at Central Station.

Norman Pinkstone

A widespread search was undertaken, by police, press, returned servicemen, relatives and friends.

It was two months before he was located, at Jerilderie. He explained that when he realized he’d had a lapse of memory he went to see a GP, who suggested he work out in the open air in the hope that things would return to normal. Surely it would have been better if the GP had informed authorities, but anyway Norman took his advice. He was camped by a creek at Jerilderie when he scalded his hand, and the shock of the accident restored his memory. He went to the Presbyterian manse, where the clergyman’s wife dressed his hand and contacted his family.

Sidney Pinkstone died on Novemer 29 1963. Norman died on March 22 1973. They rest in peace with the spirit of their brother Victor.


  1. Thankyou for this sobering account of just one family’s experience Pauline. Beautifully told and gave me a moment to silently give thanks for these brothers and hundreds of 1,000s like them for whom the Great war changed lives irrevocably.
    Lest we forget

  2. Pauline

    Thanks for taking the trouble to leave a message Megan. This family certainly deserves our respect and gratitude.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.