Noel was born 1880-81, in Cork Ireland. He joined the NT Police on 28th June 1911 (Actually arriving on 17th July 1911.) He brought with him two and half years of active service in the British Army in the Boer War along with five months active service in Somaliland and a further six months service in the 1906 Zulu uprising. He also declared that he had served in the South African Mounted Constabulary for nine years. Horace Higgs also served in the Constabulary. [The South African Constabulary was a force of 8,500 mounted officers created by the British to police the former Boer lands in South Africa.] .
From the 9th to the 21st of August 1911, Noel was stationed at Borroloola. He then transferred to the Roper River Police Station where he served until May 1912.
He was then stationed at Horseshoe Creek from July 1914 until the 26th September 1914.
It appears that on the 26th September 1914, he joined the Commonwealth Railways at Pine Creek, NT as a clerk. He is recorded as leaving the Railways on the 30th September 1915 to joining the Expeditionary Forces (AIF). A minute attached to his personal file, from the Secretary of Commonwealth Railways enquired if ‘Collins, N.T, Clerk, Pine Creek enlisted 30 September 1915, had yet been discharged.’ The Railways record him on the 19th October 1919 as having failed to return from military service. [Actually, he was serving with the Australian Army in the former German Colonies in New Britain.] It is possible that Noel engineered his transfer to the Railways in 1914 as a way of circumventing the Northern Territory Administrators restriction on AIF enlistments.
Noel Collins enlisted as No.5660 in the 18th Reinforcements of the Seventh (Victorian) Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, on 31st March 1916. On his enlistment attestation form, his occupation was listed as clerical and later in 1918, when applying to go to New Guinea he listed himself as an accountant. He stated that he was married and residing at ‘Coonac’, Clendon Road, Toorak, Victoria.
Noel embarked for England on the transport ship ‘HMAT A33 Ayrshire' on 3rd of July 1916. He was take on strength ‘in the field’ by the Seventh Battalion. He joined his battalion after it had suffered heavy losses in action around Pozieres during the Battle of the Somme. In action at Mouquet Farm, in the Somme Valley France, his Battalion had suffered thirty-four killed and two hundred and twenty three other casualties.
On the 22nd of October 1916, Noel was promoted to Lance Corporal. After two months of field service, he was returned to England to recover from an illness. He was diagnosed with Myalgia in the knees and legs. His medical condition was attributed to his prior active service in South Africa during the Boer War. In a file note the examining Medical Officer noted, ‘is older than above [46 years] an old campaigner. Declared medically unfit for field service he was returned to Australia on the 21st July 1917. He disembarked in Melbourne on the 8th August 1917 classified as fit only for home not active service.
In 1918, he enlisted into the Permanent Australian Military Forces as an acting Sergeant Major. Shortly after that, he is recorded as being sick for two months with influenza. On the 16th November 1920 when he was approaching fifty years of age he enlisted in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, which had taken over the former German colonies, which had been captured by a joint Australian Navy and Army expedition in New Britain and New Guinea in 1914.
Noel’s service recorded showed him as having been seconded from the uniformed occupation force to the civilian administration as a clerical officer. He was an acting Sergeant in the military component on Rabaul on the 2nd December 1922 when he signed a receipt for his Victory Medal.