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11 March 1922-13 June 1944, Age 22 years
Norman Frederick Fitton, #J19834, was born on March 11, 1922 at his grandmother's home in Toronto, but quickly joined tile rest of tile family oil the farm just south of Arkell. He was the third youngest of a family of eight. Norman attended Arkell school and then G.C.V.1. in Guelph and worked on the family dairy farm with his parents, John and Nellie Fitton and his other brothers and sisters.
Norman joined the RCAF about 1940 before he was called up so he could get into the air force instead of the army because he always wanted to fly. Norman had two brothers, Gordon and Victor who also served overseas with the R.C.O.C. Norman did most of his training out west. He attended Air Observer School and Elementary Flying Training School in Regina, Saskatchewan, Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge, Alberta, Central Air and Navigation School in Rivers, Manitoba, Service Flying School in Brandon, Manitoba and Manning Depot in Lachine.
At the outset of the war, there was only one bomber squadron on its Home War Establishment formed on September 5, 1939 with poorly equipped two seater biplanes with open cockpits and a maximum speed of 135 m.p.h. and could carry a trivial 580 lbs. of bombs. In the early stages of the war they had to use evasive action and night bombing to survive, their targets being industry and shipping in Germany. Early navigation and bomb aiming equipment were poor and losses were high. Fifteen Canadian bomber squadrons were eventually created, all being formed in the United Kingdom. By June of 1941 equipment was vastly improved with the use of Wellington bombers, but accuracy was still a problem.
Norm was first stationed in Yorkshire, England and took part in the first 1000 bomber raid on Cologne on May 30 and 3 1, 1942 in a 90 minute period. He was navigator bomb aimer.
Flak, night fighters and radar nets became more deadly as well as the hazards of mid air collisions and bombs being dropped from planes at a greater altitude. Since they were required to fly with no navigation lights which would give the night fighters something to aim at, losses of up to 5% were common. Norm was forced to bail out over England, probably because of a crippled plane, and broke his ankle. While in hospital he met Joyce Craske of Grimsby, Linconshire, England whom he married on January 27,1943, with his skipper F.O. McKay of Regina as his best man.
On January 1, 1943, Canadian bomber group 6 was shed and in May of 1943, squadron 420,424 and 425 were sent to North Africa to form No. 331 wing. Norm was stationed in Cairo, Egypt where they hit enemy ships and took part in 22 raids over Tpbruk. During one raid his skipper got it in the knee and Norm had his shoe cut by flak. When they got home there were 126 holes in the old kite. He also spent one terrifying night on Malta when there were 5 air raids as he was guarding their kit and their plane was blown up about 50 yards from where he was.
During one night raid they were shot down in the desert behind enemy lines. Norm received "The Boot a lapel pin) for walking the crew back through enemy lines to safety. 331 wing returned to England in November, 1943. After North Africa, Norman was home on leave in the spring of 1944 having taken part in 41 operations by this time. Norm belonged to 427 squadron which was formed in November, 1942 flying Wellington Bombers which were exchanged for Halifax bombers in May of 1943.
As the air war over Germany continued, electronics played a large part for both sides and the missing rate rose to 7%. The squadrons with planes that were so vulnerable were transferred to minelaying duties. By April of 1944 the assault on Berlin had ended as Bomber Command was placed under control of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces in preparation for Operation Overlord. Bomber Command's effort was split for the next six months between transportation targets in France and low countries intended to isolate the Normandy battlefield, and the continuing attempt to destroy the industrial centres of northern and western Germany, especially the Ruhr heartland.
On June 12,1944, Norman's plane was hit over France and went down. He declared missing in action and was found by the French underground with his parachute unopened. He is buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Calais, France, age 22.
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Puslinch Historical Society
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Puslinch, ON N0B 2J0
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