Editorial: Click to scroll through all the images and enlarge them. June 2020
Norman, Trevor, Hamilton, Wilson joined the RAF at age 23, serving mainly as a wireless operator but also as a rear-gunner, mostly in flying boats of Coastal Command, patrolling offshore sea routes to protect shipping from attack by German U-boats. He retired from the RAF in 1954.
A news clip of the time stated; “Chatham Man Awarded D.F.M”- summarises his entry into the RAF: “Sergeant Wilson whose home address was Chatham, was born in 1916. He was in the hotel business in London before enlisting in January 1939, as a wireless operator. He was on board the ill-fated Lancastria when she was sunk off St Nazaire as France was being invaded but was eventually rescued by a destroyer. Sergeant Wilson had taken part in many hazardous operations as a radio-operator in flying boats of 98 Squadron.”
Initially in 1941, Norman Wilson joined 98 Squadron which, at the beginning of the War, was based in France, equipped with Mitchell bombers. While it was not involved in the main fighting of the ‘Battle of France’, it did suffer heavy losses when evacuating, tragically, on the RMS Lancastria. One of the last ships to depart, consciously overloaded, the ship was sunk off St Nazaire by Junker 33 bombers. One of the untold disasters of World War II, because of the possible effect on national morale, this incident resulted in heavy loss of life. The Squadron was reformed in the summer of 1940 with Sunderland Flying Boats. It was soon dispatched in late July to Akinyemi/Kaldadarnes in Iceland for coastal patrol and anti-submarine duties – part of the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’. He also flew as a rear-gunner in Fairey Battles.
In late 1941, the Squadron was moved to Invergordon, Scotland (where he met his wife). Norman Wilson was transferred to 228 Squadron from 1943 until the end of the War. 228 was equipped with Short Sunderland flying boats for anti-submarine patrols, operating out of Oban, and from 1943, out of Pembroke Dock.
During this time, while on patrol, two flying boats depth-charged and sank a U-Boat. He was ditched in the sea three times, winning the ‘Goldfish Medal’!
In 1947, after the War, Norman was posted to Dum Sum near Karachi, India, at the time of the partition of India, flying in DC3 Dakotas.