NORMAN, George Leslie [of Nottingham]

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'NORMAN, George Leslie  [of Nottingham]' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'NORMAN, George Leslie  [of Nottingham]' page

World War 1 soldier

By John Pownall

NORMAN, George Leslie. [of Nottingham].

31498      Dorset Regiment

132079    Royal tank Corps

178882    Machine Gun Corps

          I am writing this article on behalf of my wife Pat and her cousin Lesley Waterfall (both Nee Norman), both being granddaughters of the above soldier.

          He was born in 1899 to father George Henry Norman and mother Alice (nee Lane). He was known to all the family by his middle name of “Leslie” (Les). In fact, his grave stone inscription is Leslie Norman, no mention of first Christian name of George! As stated, one of his granddaughters was named after him, only spelt in the feminine, i.e. Lesley.

          He was one of 6 children, the others being Frederic, Eunice, Daisy, Minnie and Gladys.

          His father had his roots in Boston, Lincolnshire. He was born in Loughborough, Leicestershire. Why they moved around the country we do not know; it may well have been the necessity of their families search for employment and a better life.

          Les served in the British Army during WW1. I have searched on well known web sites for details of his service. I also made contact with a researcher who had knowledge of the Machine Gun Corps (MGC), who was most helpful.

          However the service records that are currently available are a little confusing to say the least; even the researcher admitted that!

          Anyway here goes. He joined the Dorset Yeomanry at the declared age of 17 years and 292 days, but because a lot of young men and boys were joining when they were only 14, 15, etc, and becoming a casualty, the Army had to restrict young people less than 18 years and 6 months from serving in France. Due to his young age he now transferred to the recently formed Heavy MGC. This was a disguised name for the “Tank” section. This apparently was still being kept a secret for as long as possible. It became the Tank Corps after July 1917.

On his Medal Card there is no reference to him being issued with a medal for service in France.

On joining up he is stated as living with his father George Henry Norman in Liddington Road, New Basford, Nottingham. The official records show that he reenlisted at the end WW1. The cut off date for medal entitlement was 11-11-1918 for Great War medals. However the researcher wrote that he certainly  did reenlist because his new service number being 178882 was first used on 27/5/1919.

The family have photos of him in his Dorset Yeomanry uniform (ref photo). On his left sleeve can be seen “crossed rifles” which would have been issued to a soldier who was classed as a “Marksman”.

Unfortunately, there are no records of him showing where he was actually posted, especially for the MGC. The MGC were raised in mid war and disbanded at the end. Indeed it transpired that just about all the soldiers’ individual records for the MGC were never retained.

However, we do know that after WW1 he served in the British Army in India. Many of his family remember him mentioning his time in spent in India. This part of his service was first mentioned to me by him when I was courting my future wife Pat. Why this part is remembered by myself I do not know, but, Les was keen domino player, in particular 5’s and 3’s. At the time, he played in the Rose Pub in Strelley. I knew him because he occasionally played cards and dominos with my Dad.

One day the subject came up about War in general. He said that he had served in India. Les said that he had been to the famous Khyber Pass, which is in what we now know as Afghanistan.

His granddaughter, Lesley has a small black and white photo off him in India. Unfortunately it has not stood the up to the ravages of time and is very blurred and faint. However you can see him casually stood with several soldiers outside a building. On the floor at their feet are their Army “pith” helmets.

What he did there and how long for we do not know. We have no records in the family notes or official documents of when he finally left the army.

On his return to Nottingham he met and married his wife Louie Fisher. They had six children; Dorothy, Kenneth, Eileen, David, Margaret and June (twins) and the youngest Anthony. He worked for a while as a “Trimmer” in the production of ladies stockings. I think that the factory was near to Shipstones Brewery in Basford. At some point he started work at John Players cigarette factory in Radford; but for how long and what he was employed to do we do not know. He worked there until he retired. This allowed him to spend many hours in his allotment and to socialise with friends playing cribbage and dominoes.

On a personnel note, my own memory of him is from the early 1970s. As many men did in those days he, smoked a pipe especially when playing games in the pub. One thing that he used, and is hardly ever seen in public these days, is “Snuff”. Les used “Snuff” which would always make him sneeze. He was also deaf, which he turned to his advantage. In those days, his hearing aid comprised of an ear piece connected by wire to a to a small control box attached to his belt (similar to modern phone devices). So, if the pub became noisy he would turn it “off”, which would reduce the noise and allow him to concentrate on the game in hand. Thus, he was quite good at Dominos! 

Born       =  1899.

Married =  1924.

Died       =  1974.

          First photo he is in Army uniform (not dated).

 The second photo is of Les in later life.


          Ancestry and Find my Past web sites.

          Researcher consulted from M.G.C. web site.

          The Long Long Trial site. 

Family photos, records, and memories from Lesley Waterfall and Pat Pownall.

This page was added by John Pownall on 21/10/2015.

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