A century on from the end of World War I we acknowledge their service …
Lest we forget.
Private Norcliffe Esca Gabbett
Born: 1896 Hastings. Died of wounds: 5 November 1915 Gallipoli.
Enlisted: 15 March 1915 aged 18.
Served: Egypt and Gallipoli.
Esca and his mother Marion moved to Pakenham around the turn of the century, where he was a carter/driver, possibly for Harold Hogan, a local stock and land agent. They lost husband and father Captain John Norcliffe in a boating accident at Port Welshpool in 1904.
Esca was a member of the 1914 premiership winning Pakenham football team. Even 50 years later, Bill “Nobby” Stone who played in that team, remembered Esca being one of Pakenham’s “champion wingers”.
Esca was not yet 19 years old when he enlisted for the AIF in March 1915. He was initially assigned to B Company, 23rd battalion, and sent to Egypt. There, he developed pleurisy (pneumonia) and was hospitalised at Heliopolis.
According to his medical notes, he was placed on a diet of eggs, milk and rice pudding while in hospital!
Esca was sent to Gallipoli in October 1915, where he served with the 23rd Battalion.
On 4 November 1915 Esca was shot in the head at Lone Pine and died the next day at the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station.
This is an extract from Patrick Ferry’s book A Century After The Guns Fell Silent – Remembering the Pakenham District’s WWI Diggers 1914-18.
For more details on this and other profiles in the book, head to the website www.pakenhamww1.com