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This Norman conquest gave us our oldest and youngest soldiers

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A Harborough family believes it has a unique claim to First World War fame – the oldest and youngest people listed on the town’s war memorial tablets.

The Norman family’s ancestors who ‘joined up’ include a lad of 15 or 16, and a married father who was more than 50.

The marble and bronze memorial plaques are at the town’s Cottage Hospital in Coventry Road.

It lists everyone from the Harborough district who fought in the First World War.

The “oldest and youngest” discovery was made by Beryl Norman, who lives in Harborough, during extensive family history research.

Patriotic members of the Norman family who served their country 100 years ago included Tom Norman, who was an under-aged teenager aged 15 or 16 when he joined up, and his father William Wright Norman who decided to become a soldier despite being more than 50 years old in 1914.

Both, plus Tom’s older brother, also called William, survived the war.

The younger William Norman went to war after getting married on the day war was declared. The facts were unearthed by Beryl, while she was researching the Norman family’s history.

“I suppose I’ve been looking at family history for more than 30 years – ever since my son Melvyn had a project at school,” she said.

“The Normans are my husband’s family, and are a very interesting family to research.

“There’s even a cousin on the Titanic.”

Beryl is a founder member of both the Market Harborough and the Leicestershire family history groups.

Melvyn Norman explained: “WW Norman is my great-grandfather, the younger William is my grandfather and Tom is my great-uncle.

“All luckily survived the war, and my grandad lived into old age, and had a family of three sons, most of whose descendants still live in the Harborough area.”

The First World War memorial and portico at the Cottage Hospital is Grade II- listed. Local people on the plaque who died in the war have a red cross engraved next to their name.

The plaque was paid for by public subscription, and sited in an extension to the Cottage Hospital, opened in 1923.

 

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