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22282631 Sapper
JOHN FREDERICK NORMAN
Royal Engineers

by
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2001. All Rights Reserved.

1. INTRODUCTION

Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were obtained from the Soldier’s Service and Pay Book (Army Book 64). The original copy this soldier’s book is in the author’s collection.

2. EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY INFORMATION

John Frederick Norman was born on the 26th of March 1928. According to his service book he listed his religion as Baptist. His trade was listed as locomotive fireman.

3. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

The following is a description of John Frederick Norman at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1949:

Age:

21 years and 5 months

Height:

6 feet – 0 inches

Weight:

212 pounds

Maximum Chest Size:

44 inches

Complexion:

Fresh

Eyes:

Blue

Hair:

Brown

Distinctive Marks:

Scars on his left knee and left wrist.

4. ENLISTMENT AND TRAINING

John Frederick Norman enlisted as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers Supplementary Reserve at Northampton, Northamptonshire on the 29th of August 1949. At the time of his enlistment he was issued Army Number 22282631.

5. ASSIGNMENTS AND CAMPAIGN SERVICE

The Royal Engineers Supplementary Reserve consisted primarily of men from main line railways who went to Longmoor Camp in Hampshire during the summer for two weeks of training in operating and signalling on the Longmoor Military Railway. The Special Reserves training had been done with marked success since 1924 when the main line companies agreed to form military units. The units created were known as the Supplementary Reserve (Railway Units) with regimental headquarters at Longmoor where a full-time regular adjutant was stationed. In 1937 it was decided to have an operating company and a construction company of the Supplementary Reserve in camp concurrently and to organize their training jointly. At this time, the Supplementary Reserve consisted of No. 1 Railway Operating Group R.E. (S.R.) and No. 1 Railway Stores Group R.E. (S.R.). No. 1 Railway Operating Group consisted of a Headquarters, three Railway Construction Companies (Nos. 150 through 152), two Railway Operating Companies (Nos. 153 and 154), and 155 Railway Workshops Company. No. 1 Railway Stores Group consisted of a Headquarters and 156 Railway Stores Company [1]. In 1938 there was the enlargement of the Special Reserve and the 157th Docks Company was expanded to form No. 1 Docks Group to be joined in 1939 by No. 2 Docks Group formed by the Port of London Authority and other southern ports [2].

The association of the military and civilian railway and docks organizations begun in 1924 was a long and vital one for the Royal Engineers. As each unit came successively to Longmoor to train and practice their respective roles, a strong bond of friendship developed between the Regulars and the Reservists at all levels. This common bond of interest in railways would prove of great value in the later years of the decade as Longmoor began preparations for a war that seemed inevitable. From 1938 the emphasis at Longmoor switched to preparations for war, work which occupied the staff of the Railway Training Center fully.

With the exception of Palestine (1947-1948), Korea (1950-1953) and two requirements arising in Egypt (1952 and 1956), no significant operational demands were placed upon the military railway resources after World War II. Nevertheless, the railway at Longmoor contrived to fulfill a vital though ever decreasing role of training regular and reserve railwaymen, developing and evaluating new equipment and providing transportation support for the camps and depots within the Longmoor/Bordon complex.

The major tasks at Longmoor following the end of World War II were: the demobilization and rehabilitation of the many thousands of wartime railwaymen, the recovery and disposal of the vast inventory of equipment which found its way back to Longmoor, and the reorganization of the training establishment to meet the demands of the regular railway units of the Reserve Army. It was this type of work that was performed by Sapper Norman during his annual training camps between 1949 and 1953.

Sapper Norman’s soldier’s book shows that he attended an annual camp at Longmoor on the dates shown below:

17 June 1950 to 1 July 1950

19 May 1951 to 2 June 1951

21 June 1952 to 5 July 1952

14 June 1953 to 28 June 1953

6. PROMOTIONS AND CONDUCT

a. Promotions: Sapper Norman was not promoted to a higher rank during his time in service.

b. Conduct: There is no evaluation of Sapper Norman’s conduct shown in his soldier’s book during his time in service

7. EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS

a. Education: There is no indication of any Certificates of Education earned by Sapper Norman during his time in service.

b. Qualifications: Sapper Norman received the following qualifications during his time in service:

Date

Qualification

22 September 1949

Fireman Locomotive, Group C, Class III.

17 June 1950

Fireman Locomotive, Group C, Class II

31 March 1951

Fireman Locomotive, Group B, Class III.

7 July 1952

R.E.D. (S), Group A, Class III.

8. MEDICAL INFORMATION

No medical information concerning Sapper Norman was included in his soldier’s book.

9. MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL INFORMATION

Sapper Norman was married during his time in the Royal Engineers Supplementary Reserve. He and his wife Patricia Francis Kathleen Norman lived at Fernstone, Station Road, Brixworth, Northamptonshire.

10. DISCHARGE

John Frederick Norman was discharged from the Army at Brixworth, Northamptonshire on the 28th of August 1953 on the termination of his period of limited engagement in the Royal Engineers Supplementary Reserve.

REFERENCES

  1. Soldier’s Service and Pay Book, Army Book 64.
  2. RONALD, D.W. and CARTER, R.J. The Longmoor Military Railway. David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1974.

ENDNOTES

[1] RONALD, D.W. and CARTER, R.J., p. 78.

[2] Ibid., p. 79