A young man from Lenswood, born 101 years ago, will be remembered with a special presentation at Lobethal this November. The story of Hartley Graham Norton is one of remarkable achievement and tragic sorrow. Born and raised in Lenswood, Hartley was the youngest of 12 children.
His oldest brother William was tragically killed in World War I before Hartley was even born. With the outbreak of World War II, Hartley enlisted with the RAAF, the day before his 20th birthday. To become a pilot, he learnt to fly in a tiger moth and on his final training run, did a loop-deloop over Cold Store Road. As fate would have it, the very same tiger moth, which still flies today, is owned by Tim Brownridge of Cold Store Road, Lenswood.
Hartley was married ten days before being sent to Europe where he would fly eight successful bomber operations over Nazi Germany with the British RAF. This was considered to be one of the most dangerous callings of the war, suffering an exceptionally high death rate of 46%. 22-year-old Pilot Officer Hartley Norton, along with 5 members of his crew, lost their lives on the 3rd of October 1943 when their Lancaster was shot down near Kassel in Germany.
One crew member, Sergeant Frank Thompson, managed to bail out and survived, however, he was captured and became a prisoner of war. Miraculously, he returned home safely at war’s end. A vast amount of research on Pilot Officer Norton, has uncovered a fascinating story, not only about Hartley but also the Norton family. It picks up the enormous loss that the Norton’s suffered, but through their tragedy, they unwittingly gave the people of our community, a gift of being connected to some amazing historical events. Hartley was the only member of the Lenswood and Forest Range district to be killed in action during WWII. It is hoped that his story will be forever remembered.
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