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Don Norsworthy's war service

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:58 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Don was born in 1920 and served in the Second World War in the Army, in the Transport Division (his army number was 3972375). He drove a huge range of vehicles from generals' cars through to HGVs carrying weapons and supplies. He was part of the D-Day campaign and was involved in building the flotillas at Mulberry Harbour. He was based in a town called Gisors in France for a bit after that. He also drove the "Top Hat" route through France. He used to tell us about driving in the pitch black with a little light for headlights, which focused on a white patch on the differential on the vehicle in front to see the way. We believe the Top Hat route got its name as top hats (or at least hats) were hung in trees to mark the way.

He also served outside of Europe in Damascus, Jerusalem, and Egypt (he told us he went up a step pyramid to the top). He was kept on in the Army for a year or maybe two after the war (we don't think he was given a choice!) and he went to fight the "Stern Gang," who we think were based in Palestine. This might be why he spent time in the Middle East, rather than being there before 1945.

He was always quite happy to talk about the war, but he did find one part incredibly difficult to talk about, and that was going into Bergen-Belsen. As he was part of the transport division, he had to stay behind to organize the logistics of getting food and supplies to those held prisoner there. He said the worst thing was seeing all those starving people and not being able to give them food, only a light soup. When "Band of Brothers" came out in the early 2000s, he rang us in tears after the episode when they liberated a concentration camp.

Aside from active service, he was recognized as "one of the finest runners in his regiment" and his local paper "The Fleetwood Chronicle" wrote a story about him on Friday, 22nd August 1941:

*Leaves Them All Behind*
A Fleetwood lad in the Army has found that he is a good runner and distinguished himself in regimental and other races. He is 21 years old Donald Norsworthy, only son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Norsworthy of 9, Garfield Street. Shortly after he was called up in July last year, he entered a regimental race of 800 yards and won. Then he won a three-mile cross country run with a lead of 200 yards. His time was 16 min, 23 sec. He followed this up by winning half-mile, mile, and three-mile races and later, running against some of the finest runners in his regiment, won a four-mile cross country. Before joining up, Donald took no interest in athletics and never had any training. His mother thinks he has done very well and is proud of his achievements. He has lived in Fleetwood nearly all his life and went to Chaucer Road and Bailey Senior Schools. He worked for Messrs. J. Preston and Sons Ltd. and later on the dock. His father is a carpenter. He has two sisters, Margaret aged 22 and Vera, aged 18.


Item list and details

Photo of Don in his army uniform.

Person the story/items relate to

Donald Edward Norsworthy

Person who shared the story/items

Susan Richmond, Pamela Miller and Sam Forster

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Sue Richmond's Father, Pamela Miller & Sam Forster's Grandad.

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID