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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
Further data available at Allied Losses & Incidents database

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72 Squadron Crest
02.09.1940 72 Squadron Spitfire K9938 DW-K Sgt. Norman R. Norfolk

Operation: Patrol

Date: 2nd September 1940 (Monday)

Unit: 72 Squadron

Type: Spitfire I

Serial: K9938

Code: RN-?

Base: RAF Croyden, Surrey

Location: Canterbury Airfield

Pilot: Sgt. Norman Robert Norfolk 580253 RAF Age 28. Survived (1)

REASON FOR LOSS:

The circumstances of the aircraft loss is described in Sgt. Norfolk’s combat report which is below at serial 1. The publication 'Battle of Britain Then and Now' recorded that he crash landed at Garrington Farm near Bekesbourne airfield - aircraft written off - pilot unhurt.

Norman was born in 1912 in Nottingham, married his first wife Doreen in February 1939 - his occupation shown as Sgt Pilot 72 Fighter Squadron on the Marriage Certificate. Doreen sadly died of cancer on the 29th July 1963 of cancer, age just 47. He remarried in 1966 to Betty Eleanor of 1 Willow Place, Bridge Street, Christchurch, Dorst. Occupation described as Deputy Director - Air Traffic Control. He was awarded the OBE, understood for his services to the development of ATC.

Sgt. Norfolk 580253, was granted a Commission and promoted to Plt.Off 44929 on the 17th September 1940 with a seniority wef 21st August 1940. (Gazetted 20th December 1940),

Plt.Off Norfolk was awarded a DFC which was gazetted on the 7th January 1941. The citation for his DFC reads:

"Throughout a long period of operations, Plt.Off. Norfolk has shown himself to be a most determined fighter pilot, pressing home his attacks on every occasion. He has displayed great courage and has destroyed at least four enemy aircraft".

Plt.Off. Norfolk, probably after completing an operational tour, was posted to RAF Westwood in Peterborough onto 25 (Polish) Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) as an instructor in June 1941.

25 (Polish) EFTS was formed in June 1941 and moved to RAF Hucknell on the 16th July 1941

During his tour he trained a Polish pilot named Jozef Mierzejewski who went on to fly a year of combat missions in Spitfires with 308 (City of Kraków) Polish Fighter Squadron. Jozef had been trained as a pilot in Poland, and had escaped as many of his colleagues did via Romania (which in those days bordered Poland). On reaching the UK (after a fruitless service period in France), the RAF insisted that all Polish pilots start their training again from scratch.

In writing about his experiences in the UK, he commented on the difference between British and Polish instructors, describing Norman Robert Norfolk in very favourable terms.

On British & Polish Instructors
Jozef recalled that theory training that he went through in Poland was good and similar though perhaps at a higher level than in England. However one aspect, the most important side of training - appropriate instruction in the air, was no doubt so much better here than in the Polish flight school, where there was still a tradition “beating a student’s head with a fire extinguisher."

"My instructor in Peterborough was a charming gentleman, an Englishman, a pilot from the Battle of Britain, already awarded the DFC. His name was Norfolk with the rank of Flying Officer. Warm-hearted, forgiving, kind in his manner, enamoured of flying, flying whenever he could, Norfolk trained as it were with a smile, always ready to joke, making comments playing down the mistakes student. In the air as on the ground - quiet, friendly and gentle. Once. I remember, after landing, taxiing in the June sun-drenched airport, Norfolk asked me what I was going to do after the war, if I would remain in aviation?


Before I could reply, he admitted that he does not see life without aircraft: that there are no riches on earth that could move him away from flying. I flew with many people, I knew a lot of instructors – but I will never forget Norfolk, as the ideal instructor as one of those who create real aviation, no matter what nationality, because aviation and flying don’t recognise these differences.


As if to contrast and justify what I said about the superiority of English instructors over pre-war Polish ones - my squadron commander of the Polish school was himself in Peterborough. A perfect example of what an instructor should not be .
It was very different in Poland. You had to listen to an instructor’s bullying language in the headphones intercom, see the redness of the face, to understand that you will never be a pilot, because how could you be? Such an instructor, a representative of the "old school flying", remained active throughout the war, ruining his nerves in the process, killing enthusiasm in young pilots, while unnecessarily consuming gallons of gasoline.

In Poland, in the final period of training I realised that I fly incomparably better alone than with an instructor. In Peterborough, I found the same pleasure in flying with an instructor as flying solo. The instructor did not bother me with his presence, causing jitters; on the contrary, he made flying even nicer, because his friendly advice corrected my mistakes and harmful habits".

Extracts from Norman Norfolk’s Combat Records:-

7th October 1939:

"Three enemy aircraft first sighted straight ahead flying South at 1,000 feet. Upon sighting we turned East and dived. I took No 3 flying below Green 1. I saw my tracer bullets entering E/A. I broke away at 100 yards because of close contact with Green 1. I then saw four more HE111 in Vic formation and attacked No 4 with no known results".

1st September, 1940 (13:50 hrs):

"Flying Blue 2 over Hawkinge an enemy formation was intercepted of about 60 bombers and 100 ME109s. We attempted to attack the bombers but were attacked by ME 109s. A dog fight ensued in which I was able to get a deflection shot on an enemy aircraft; my fire was a little ahead of EA at first but it flew into my fire and I was able to stream tracer into his cockpit. He did a complete roll and dived apparently out of control. I was unable to follow him down … owing to ME 109 on my tail. I climbed to attack bombers but before I could fire, was shot at from behind by ME109 receiving 1 cannon shell and two bullets in my tail. I did a sharp turn and fired at the ME seeing my tracer enter his port wing. I then accidentally started spinning and when I recovered there was no enemy aircraft in sight. Owing to the damaged state of my aircraft I returned to base".

(1) 2nd September, 1940 (13:00 hrs):

"I was flying Blue 2 over Canterbury at 2000 feet when enemy intercepted. Blue 1 decided to attack ME110s. I opened fire at 200 yards and closed to 50 yards. EA starboard engine was smoking badly when I broke away. No more was seen of EA as my aircraft had been hit by enemy fire and the engine put out of action. I glided down and landed with undercarriage up at Canterbury airport (closed by obstructions). The aircraft burst into flames and was completely destroyed".

11th September, 1940:

"I was leading Yellow section in squadron formation when EA were intercepted……. I lead my three of Yellow section on to 28 Do 17s from the rear quarter. I hit and damaged 1 Do17 of a sub formation of 3. After firing most of my rounds I broke away and returned to base. My Yellow 3 reported that he saw the machine I attacked turn and go down together with one he shot down".

15th September, 1940:

"I was leading Yellow section when ordered to intercept enemy proceeding towards London from the Kent coast. The squadron intercepted 28 HE 111s with fighters. We attacked the bombers from the rear quarter position. My section went echelon position and each took a bomber. I fired almost all my rounds into a HE111 but I did not see it go down, although pieces flew off it".

17th September, 1940:

"I was Red 2 when 28 Do 17s with numbers of ME109s and MEE110s were intercepted in Maidstone area. I attacked a very light formation of 3 Do 17s from the front quarter. I continued firing into very close range. I hit the leader continually with my tracer and he went into a spin. I followed him down to 5,000 feet when I lost him in the haze".

Plt.Off Norfolk was promoted to Fg.Off on the 17th September 1941 with a seniority wef 21st August 1941 (Gazetted 23rd September 1941). The following year he was promoted to Flt.Lt on the 1st September 1942 with a seniority wef 21st August 1942 (Gazetted 15th September 1942).

On the 21st January 1958 he relinquished his Commission and was granted permission to retain rank of Flt.Lt. wef 21st November 1957.

Burial details:

Flt.Lt. Norman Robert Norfolk. Born on the 21st November 1912 in Nottingham, England. Survived the war - passed away on the 13th March 2005 in Bournemouth, Hampshire age 93.

Researched by Ken Ogilvie for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot. Thanks to Jack Mierzejewski, the son of Flt.Lt. Jozef Mierzejewsk, for providing his father's memories of Plt.Off (at that time) Norfolk. Additional research by Aircrew Remembered.

RS 28.11.2019 - Update of time-line and addition of new chapter to story line

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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