Norbert Joseph McCrory

Norbert Joseph McCrory (1892–1944), Sailor, Soldier, Railway Employee and Bank Caretaker was born in Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales on 24 January 1892 the fourth child of Hugh McCrory (Railway Employee/Coach Builder) and Ellen Margaret McCrory (nee Healy). After growing up in a strict Roman Catholic family in Surrey Hills he joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as an Officers Steward 2nd Class on 29 May 1911 and was posted to the elderly cruiser HMAS Protector.   He purchased his discharge from the Navy less then a year later on 8 January 1912.

When World War I broke out he was a railway gantry operator at Darling Islands (now Darling Harbour) Sydney.  On 8 July 1915 he enlisted at Edgecliff Naval Depot as an Able Seaman Driver in the RAN Bridging Train and subsequently saw active service at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli Peninsula during October – December 1915 and then in the Sinai during 1916-17.  He was promoted to Leading Seaman in April 1916.  When the Bridging Train was disbanded in March 1917 he transferred to the 1st AIF and served as a Bombardier in the 6th Field Artillery Brigade in England and France.  In September 1917 he was allowed to transfer to the RAN as a Stoker and joined the battle cruiser HMAS Australia then operating with the Royal Navy in the North Sea.

In February 1918 he was one of 11 men from Australia selected to take part in the raid on the German port of Zeebrugge on 22/23 April 1918.   McCrory was part of the crew of HMS Thetis which was sunk as a blockship in the Bruges Canal.  Although the raid achieved limited success in blocking the harbour, McCrory was Mentioned in Dispatches for his bravery during the attack.  Additionally in September 1921 his award of the Belgian Croix de Guerre was gazetted for the same action.  After the Zeebrugge Raid he returned to Australia and was still serving in her when the war ended in November 1918.

McCrory continued to serve in the RAN after the war.  He served in HMA Ships Australia, Cerberus, Brisbane and Penguin before being discharged Engagement Expired in September 1922, with the rank of Leading Stoker.  He returned to civil employment and for some years was employed as a bank caretaker.  In 1927 he wrote an account of his service in the Zeebrugge Raid and donated it to the Australian War Memorial.

Norbert McCrory was living at Randwick, NSW when he died of Chronic Myocarditis and Arterio Sclerosis on 23 December 1944 and was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Rookwood.  He never married.