R.I.P. John Norman

Temporary Sub Lieutenant John NORMAN R.N.V.R.
Officer Commanding 'A' Company, Howe Battalion
Killed in Action 4th June 1915

These images & documents are all from the private papers of John Norman, who was killed in action during the 3rd Battle of Krithia, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, 4th June 1915.

Sub Lt. John Norman (seated third right of the three Sub Lts.) with 48 Other Ranks of the Howe Battalion outside the "Alexandra Inn" sometime between October & November 1914. The location is unknown, possibly near Betteshanger or Portland. Any information regarding the location would be gratefully received.
Note the Sub Lt. seated centre is a dead-ringer for Keanu Reeves. Also fair lookalikes for Anthony Hopkins & Jimmy Cagney may be found.

Temporary Sub Lieutenant John Norman RNVR, joined the Howe Battalion at short notice on the evening of the 30th September 1914. During the past month, his pal from Emmanuel College, Cyril Browne, had been urging John & another Emmanuel College man, Alfred Maynard, to come & join him in the Howe Battalion:-

Officers Mess, Howe Battalion, Royal Naval Brigade Camp, Eastry, Kent, Sept. 6th 1914.
Dear Old John,
I wonder how you are getting along as a Robert - I expect you are having a real good time as far as duty permits. I have got a proposition to put before you & Fat Alfred Maynard. I have just had a chat with our Adjutant & he thinks that very likely you might be able to get a commission with us, as we are short of officers. You must not regard this as definite but if you think it would suit you send me a line by return & we will do our best - as it would be simply grand to have you here. We are training hard as we have been turned into infantry & have got about 4,000 men here & 4,000 at Deal. We are going to Belgium or Egypt in December or January - we have had no official orders yet but have all ordered khaki outfits. The pay is about 7/- a day with messing thrown in & we are told a uniform allowance of £60. I am living on my pay & having drinks & smokes galore - in fact I am sure that if you have not already committed yourself to any other fighting force that this is just the thing. I am writing to Alfred after this in the same strain. Mind you nothing definite but great expectations that if you would care for it it would be quite possible. We are doing company drill & battalion drill & route marches now so having been in O.T.C. you & Alfred would be well up. Arthur Willis is with us & Claude de la Mothe from St. Christophers' Eastbourne & we have a very jolly lot of others, including a Free Forester named R.S. Hall.
I do hope we can manage this, so that all three of us have a smack at those damned Germans together. It would be grand.
Yours ever Cyril R. Browne, Sub. Lt. R.N.B.

[The three officers Cyril refers to in the above letter, Arthur Willis, Claude de la Mothe & R.S. Hall, all accompanied the Howe Battalion to Antwerp in October 1914.]

Officers Mess, Howe Battalion, R.N.B. Camp, Betteshanger, Eastry, Kent, September 15th 1914.
Dear Old John,
I wrote to Freddie last so I will write to you now. For God's sake don't do anything rash as if things go on all right & you don't hit a porter who stops you at the door I am absolutely certain you will get here all right.
Look here - our senior Lieutenant lunched with the Commodore to meet a certain very highly placed Naval Officer & he (the Lt.) said he would bet me a week's pay (£10) to a stale bun that you would get in all right. So please don't worry but if you can write me a note each day just to let me know what is happening & how you both are.
We are really working here - & are having continuous field exercises in attack, it is very interesting & I am enjoying life here immensely. We march to Blanford(?) near Dorchester about October 15th, so you have something to look forward to.
Directly you get appointed, go to Gieve Matthews & Seagrove, Naval Outfitters in South Molton Street & order your kit. You get an allowance of £60 uniform grant & pay is 9/- a day I hear, & you only pay for drinks no messing.
We had a perfect day today & were inspected by our honourary Colonel Admiral of the Fleet Sir A.K. Wilson V.C. He looks more like a retired plumber than an officer.
I hope you did good work today.
Best love to you both & let me hear when anything happens as I feel sure I can straighten out any tangles from this end by a discreet use of Lord Curzon, who is dead keen on getting you. CHEER UP.


Cyril's two letters allude to some trouble afoot & this may be explained by the following letter, which would appear to show that both John & Alfred had already accepted commissions in the 16th Division in Ireland & were angling to escape to the R.N.D.:-

Headquarters 16th Division, Dublin 30/9/14.
Messrs Norman and Maynard.
You appear to be under the impression that the definite acceptance of a commission is a trivial matter which may be considered binding, or repudiated at you own convenience. This is a mistake.
Your action has been reported to the G.O.C. Royal Naval Brigade from whom you will probably hear more of this matter.
Under no circumstances can your services now be accepted in the 16th Division.
W.B. Rennie Capt. & A.D.C.

So both John & Alfred escaped their commissions in the Army & joined the Howe Battalion at Betteshanger 30th September 1914. Both took command of Platoons in "D" Company & shortly thereafter accompanied the Battalion to Antwerp. This is best told by John Norman in two letters, the first immediately after his return from Antwerp 13/10/14 & the second from Blandford:-

Tuesday Oct. 13th 1914
My Dearest Mother,
I haven't time for a proper letter or an account of my adventures as I am due in camp at Eastry at 9 this morning. We have had three wonderful but hideous days in Antwerp, where we just failed to save the situation we were intended to save, & so have returned home - worn out (+ several captured, very few actual casualties).
I have some life & no mistake, & have been under heavy shell fire for 3 days & nights in the trenches, after which we retreated on foot for 16 hours with only one ten minute halt! Half our lot have shattered nerves, but although it was the most hideous nightmare I ever imagined I feel as fit as anything (bar an awful cold.)
We hope for leave sooner or later, but aren't sure of anything yet.
I have written a little more fully to Helen, I hope she will tell you about it, & then later on I will describe it myself.
Lots of love John.
A lot of heros! no, don't believe the paper, the whole thing was one huge blunder.

[John's fiancee was Miss Helen Bewsher, daughter of Samuel Bewsher, of Colet Court, Hammersmith, the Prep School for St. Pauls which John attended. The Headmaster at Colet Court was John Bewsher, brother of Samuel Bewsher, who was Bursar of St. Pauls.]


Howe Battn. R.N. Camp Blandford.
Sir, I beg to submit that I may be granted pay for my services as a Sub-Lieut. in the Royal Naval Division, from Sep. 30th 1914 until Oct. 18th.
The following are the circumstances. I joined the Howe Battn. on the evening of Sep. 30th having that day received a wire from the Selection Committee of the RND at 42 Charing X saying that I was approved by them, subject to my passing my medical examination.
Viscount Curzon, commanding the Howe Battn. at that time, wired me to join at once, & undergo examination by the Medical Officer of his battalion.
This examination I passed satisfactorily early on the morning of Oct. 1st. Immediately after this I received my kit allowance of £25 from the Bn. Paymaster, & at once went to London to procure kit. I was recalled by wire, & embarked for Antwerp under Lord Curzon's orders.
I served there as a Subaltern in charge of a platoon, & returned with the Division later.
On my arrival home I heard from the Admiralty that they had not received any certificate from the Bn. Medical Officer. I wrote to them explaining all the circumstances & almost immediately received my commission dating from Oct. 18th.
The Brigade Paymaster would not recognise my claim for pay previous to Oct. 18th, but referred me to the executive.
I have the honour to be
your obedient servant
John Norman

John Norman became friends with the Howe Battalion Medical Officer, Surgeon Lieutenant Arthur Henry CROOK RNVR.
On his return from the Antwerp Expedition, John obtained copies of photographs that Surgeon Crook had taken during their adventure & wrote captions for them in pencil on the reverse. Copies of these same photographs were later donated by Surgeon Crook to the Imperial War Museum. They also appeared liberally in the contemporary British Press & in many publications since. However, errors have crept into the descriptions of these photographs over the years. This series of photographs is reproduced via the click link below, together with a list of Howe Battalion Officers who served at Antwerp:-


After returning from the Antwerp Expedition, John had a few days at home, then went back to Betteshanger & lived in a tent from 21st until 30th October 1914. He then took an overnight train from Sandwich to Portland, then got sent home on the 31st to Southall on sick leave with the cold he'd got from living in the tent! He went back to Portland on November 5th, & first went to Blandford on the 25th.
On 7th December he got a telegram telling him to come back to Portland again from weekend leave and was based there in December.
On 4th January 1915 he was in Puddletown, Dorchester & moved to Bridport (Knights Bull Hotel) from 6 Jan until 8th February. His parents came to Bridport for the weekend around the 16th Jan. for a football match, boxing and dinner.

It was whilst at the Knights Bull Hotel, Bridport, that he retained a list of the Howe Battalion Officers' Mess Bills dated 8th January 1915:-


The above list shows Sub. Lt. Norman as still in "D" Company. However, he was transferred to "A" Company very shortly after. He mentioned this transfer in a letter on 11th Jan. 1915 sent from Bridport where he was billeted at the Bull Hotel. He said he was sorry to leave his college friends but flattered to be chosen, as 'A' Company had a lot of stokers aged over 30 and needed tougher officers. He took command of the 4th Platoon of "A" Company.

At some point between 23rd January & 6th of February 1915, John Norman retained a Nominal Roll of 51 Other Ranks under his command in the 4th Platoon of "A" Company, Howe Battalion:-


After the 8th February he was back in Blandford "muddier than ever" and had a weekend at home on 20th Feb., when he had a lot of trouble trying to buy his tropical gear:- "Have succeeded in getting nought save a helmet after visiting 17 shops". On 26th Feb. he wrote asking for money as the "authorities strongly advise taking some cash and the paymaster is not coming with us". He left Blandford on the Saturday that week and embarked for the Med.

Some of the Howe Battalion at Blandford

Colonel Collins playing bullboard on the Royal George
[Lt.Col. C.G. Collins RM, OC Howe Battn.]


Men ashore at Skyros.
[note the unusual type of "HOWE" shoulder title]


The last of John Norman's lists was that of 28 Other Ranks of the 4th Platoon aboard "No.17 Boat, LS Vowles, Cox". This was probably dated around 28th April 1915.



The following letter gives an interesting insight into the trying circumstances of "A" Company, Howe Battalion on the evening of the 6th of May 1915 & the events leading up to the death of John's Company Commander, Lt.Cdr. Waller:-

From Sub.Lt. J. Norman, 2nd in Command
'A' Company Howe Battalion
To C.O. Howe Bn. R.N.D.
Thursday May 6th 6.20pm.
Please give me orders under the following circumstances, Lieut.Com. Waller, C.O. of this Company, left us with no instructions while making an investigation somewhere ahead.
We have been unable to find him or to get in communication with any other Company of this Battn.
Our present position is very exposed & swept by stray bullets. We are only about 100 yards in front of the trenches we occupied last night. May we take position there before dark?
Lt.Com. Waller has been absent six hours.
(P.S. We returned.)"

Lt. Cdr. Waller RNVR was buried the following day, having "died of wounds".

The following letter tells of John's first brush with death on the 18th of May 1915:-

...ago telling her all about it so you may have heard from that source too. Anyhow they have shot me in the hand thuswise & have disturbed no vein, artery, nerve, bone, sinew or joint in any way. They have given me no pain whatever, merely five or six days luxury in a dug out at the "Howe" base & an inordinate lust for the blood of the fine marksman who did it.
We had been sniped all day in our trench, & towards evening I had to cross thirty or forty odd yards of open country to go & consult with the C.O. I ran quite fast believe me, but that Turk hit me with his only shot - at about 900 yds I should think, tho he may have been hidden...

On the 4th of June 1916, at the 3rd Battle of Krithia, John Norman was killed in the assault on the Turkish trenches.
The Howe Battalion suffered 8 officers & 107 other ranks killed in action, another 10 other ranks later died of wounds.


John Norman's Bronze Memorial Plaque & his name on the Helles Memorial to the Missing.


Clyde Z/222 AB William Adams RNVR
Ch/291205(RFR/B/7864) Sto.1 William Thomas Anthony RN
Mersey Z/10 AB Jack Gordon Atkin RNVR
Dev/SS/107192(RFR/B/5014) LS Thomas William Atkinson RN
Ch/SS/107287(RFR/B/9792) Sto.1 Henry Hilburd Barradell RN
Dev/SS/107737(RFR/B/5376) Sto.1 William Beattie RN
Sussex 1/344 AB William Guest Bedford RNVR
Tyneside Z/2765 AB Jacob Benson RNVR
Mersey Z/47 AB Harold Bethell RNVR
Tyneside Z/2534 AB John Blackburn RNVR
Kitchener X/269 AB William Bruce Blance RNVR
Dev/278618(RFR/B/1676) Sto.1 Alexander Boyle RN
Sussex 5/262 LS William Michael Bray RNVR
Sussex 1/347 AB Melville Brewer RNVR
Sussex 3/287 PO Aubrey Gerald Bridger RNVR
Dev/SS/108049(RFR/B/5636) Sto.1 Norman Broadbent RN
Dev/SS/108419(RFR/B/5775) Sto.1 Simeon Brown RN
Sussex 3/321 AB Stanley Butcherd RNVR
Clyde Z/564 AB Robert Byres RNVR
T/Sub Lt. William George Marshall Callender RNVR
Ch/285945(RFR/B/6611) Sto.1 Alfred Calrow RN
Sussex 3/215 LS David Charles John Capelin RNVR
London Z/268 AB Harry Frank Chalmers RNVR
Kitchener X/290 AB Thomas Childs RNVR
Sussex Z/18 AB Frederick Laurence Clark RNVR
T/Sub Lt. Ernest Alfred Clifford RNVR
Dev/189491 A/CPO (PO) Aaron Goff Cook RN
Dev/SS/102278(RFR/B/3678) Sto.1 Edward Joseph Counsell RN
Kitchener X/135 AB Harold Cox RNVR
Ch/291607(RFR/B/4224) Sto.1 Isaac Edward Crozier RN
Clyde Z/754 AB Henry Dalgarno RNVR
Clyde Z/148 AB Alfred Dalziel RNVR
Clyde Z/121 AB Samuel Dalziel RNVR
Sussex 3/202 LS William Charles Diplock RNVR
Dev/300056(RFR/B/3572) Sto.1 Daniel Dorans RN
Kitchener P/66 AB Eli Easthope RNVR
Sussex 5/177 AB Frederick Charles Eastwood RNVR
Sussex 3/75 PO William Leonard Erridge RNVR
Dev/282467(RFR/B/325) Sto.1 James Devereux Evans RN
Kitchener X/194 AB John William Evans RNVR
Ch/291577(RFR/B/2687) Sto.1 Richard Samuel Farmer RN
Kitchener X/149 AB John Fleming RNVR
Ch/276471(RFR/B/1022) Sto.1 John Foster RN
Sussex 3/295 AB Charles Fox RNVR
Clyde Z/791 AB Andrew Clark Fyfe RNVR
Ch/281742(RFR/B/2589) Sto.1 Frederick Gardner RN
Sussex 3/311 AB Frederick William Gibbs RNVR
Tyneside Z/2751 AB Thomas Rickerby Graham RNVR
Clyde Z/122 AB Hugh Gray RNVR
Sussex Z/34 AB Luke Hardy RNVR
Kitchener X/303 AB John William Hart RNVR
Dev/299814(RFR/B/5603) LS James Heaney RN
Sussex Z/32 LS Thomas Hide RNVR
Ch/SS/101295(RFR/B/6718) Sto.1 David Hodge RN
Sussex 3/271 PO Percy Horrell RNVR
Sussex 3/244 AB Charles George Hunt RNVR
Mersey Z/55 AB George Arthur Johnson RNVR
Sussex 4/79 AB Henry Jupp RNVR
Dev/210490 PO Victor Steadman Karn RN
Ch/285805(RFR/B/6086) Sto.1 William Kinnon RN
Dev/SS/108260(RFR/B/5724) Sto.1 Charles Lewis RN
Dev/302198 A/PO (Sto.1) Hugh Logan RN
Dev/SS/108033(RFR/B/5616) Sto.1 James MacDonald RN
Clyde Z/129 AB Peter MacKellar RNVR
Dev/SS/105300(RFR/B/4424) Sto.1 John Matthews RN
Dev/SS/107199(RFR/B/5025) A/PO (Sto.1) John McClure RN
Clyde Z/229 AB Malcolm McDonald RNVR
T/Lt. Henry Beveridge McIntosh RNVR
Kitchener X/294 AB John Melia RNVR
T/Lt. Norman Heath Miller RNVR
Mersey 2/231 AB George Mountford RNVR
Sussex 6/134 AB Charles Muskett RNVR
T/Sub Lt. John Norman RNVR
Dev/SS/105349(RFR/B/4430) Sto.1 James Norris RN
Dev/230850 A/PO (LS) Joseph Roderick O'Connor RN
Bristol Z/31 AB Richard Ambrose Offer RNVR
Dev/SS/106769(RFR/B/4863) Sto.1 Thomas Oldham RN
Sussex 6/112 AB Harry Albert Parker RNVR
London Z/462 LS Edwin Heinrich Alan Ponsford RNVR
Ch/307273(RFR/B/6988) Sto.1 Tom Popple RN
Sussex 1/308 AB Frederick William Price RNVR
Sussex Z/26 AB George William Prodger RNVR
Tyneside Z/2382 AB George William Reed RNVR
Sussex 3/319 AB George Thomas Relf RNVR
Dev/SS/105394(RFR/B/4503) Sto.1 Thomas Ribbett RN
Kitchener X/234 AB John Richardson RNVR
Mersey Z/42 AB Arthur Leigh Richman RNVR
Dev/278625(RFR/B/1883) Sto.1 Stephen Roberts (served as Walton) RN
T/Sub Lt. George William Ross RNVR
Mersey 2/26 PO Edward Ruskell RNVR
Sussex 5/92 PO Harry Samson RNVR
Ch/SS/100428(RFR/B/5543) Sto.1 George Sanderson RN
Dev/SS/104586(RFR/B/4165) Sto.1 William Francis Setters RN
Dev/230051 A/LS (AB) Frederick Skinner RN
Dev/172697 CPO Arthur Smith RN
London Z/454 LS Edward William Smith RNVR
Ch/277976(RFR/B/4249) Sto.1 Isaac Smith RN
Tyneside Z/2726 AB Thomas Smith RNVR
Ch/SS/108682(RFR/B/10680) A/LS (Ldg. Sto.) William George Soper MiDx2 RN
Sussex 1/346 AB Arthur Richard Sparkes RNVR
T/Major Sydney James Belton Sparling RM
T/Sub Lt. Frank Wendell Stacey RNVR
Mersey Z/203 AB William Todd RNVR
Dev/189327 CPO Richard Farley Toy CGM MiD RN
Sussex 5/271 AB Philip James Tubbs RNVR
Ch/185353(RFR/B/2290) A/PO (LS) Frank Ernest Vowels RN
Clyde Z/128 AB James Campbell Watson RNVR
Ch/SS/102880(RFR/B/7395) Sto.1 Robert Caird Watson RN
Ch/179396(RFR/B/2644) PO.1 Job Whitehouse RN
Dev/150641 CPO Francis John Williams RN
Mersey Z/37 AB Thomas John Williams RNVR
Clyde Z/595 AB Francis James Wilson RNVR
Kitchener X/168 AB John Robert Wood RNVR
Sussex 5/273 AB Harold Stephen Woodman RNVR
Ch/SS/103126(RFR/B/7766) Sto.1 Henry Nelson Young RN


Kitchener X/156 AB Benjamin Hargreave Miles RNVR DoW 5/6/15 (BW Spine)
Clyde Z/3048 LS (Piper) John MacLean RNVR DoW in 11th CCS 6/6/15 (GSW Head)
Sussex 2/252 AB Horace Frederick Streeter RNVR DoW in 11th CCS 7/6/15 (GSW Head)
Kitchener X/143 AB Edward Rowland RNVR DoW 8/6/15.
Sussex 4/192 AB William George Stephens RNVR DoW at 3.40pm in 10/6/15 RN Hospital Bighi, Malta (BW right shoulder)
Mersey 2/192 PO John Horrigan RNVR DoW in 11th CCS 11/6/15 (BW perforating abdomen)
Sussex 5/165 AB Philip Betts RNVR DoW at 5.10am 16/6/15 in 17th GH Alexandria (SW left shldr. slight, acute gangrene)
Kitchener X/248 AB Thomas William Dargue RNVR DoW at 3.14am 20/6/15 in RN Hospital Bighi, Malta (SW Buttocks, Loins & Back, paralysis)
Kitchener X/200 AB Ernest Brown RNVR DoW 26/6/15 in 15th GH Alexandria (GSW left hip)
Clyde Z/684 LS Henry Smart Galloway RNVR DoW 4/7/15 in 15th GH Alexandria (GSW Head & Shoulder)


Sussex 3/321 AB Stanley Butcherd RNVR
Sussex 3/215 LS David Charles John Capelin RNVR
Sussex Z/18 AB Frederick Laurence Clark RNVR
Dev/189491 A/CPO (PO) Aaron Goff Cook RN
Sussex 5/177 AB Frederick Charles Eastwood RNVR
Sussex 3/75 PO William Leonard Erridge RNVR
Sussex 3/295 AB Charles Fox RNVR
Sussex 3/271 PO Percy Horrell RNVR
Clyde Z/129 AB Peter MacKellar RNVR
Kitchener X/294 AB John Melia RNVR
Bristol Z/31 AB Richard Ambrose Offer RNVR
Sussex 6/112 AB Harry Albert Parker RNVR
Kitchener X/234 AB John Richardson RNVR
Clyde Z/128 AB James Campbell Watson RNVR
Ch/179396(RFR/B/2644) PO.1 Job Whitehouse RN
Dev/150641 CPO Francis John Williams RN
Mersey Z/37 AB Thomas John Williams RNVR

Ch/SS/108682(RFR/B/10680) A/LS (Ldg. Sto.) William George Soper MiDx2 RN

Dev/189327 CPO Richard Farley Toy CGM MiD RN

Clyde Z/121 AB Samuel Dalziel RNVR (Z/121)

Kitchener X/135 AB Harold Cox RNVR (London X/135)
Kitchener X/143 AB Edward Rowland RNVR (K/143)

Dev/SS/107737(RFR/B/5376) Sto.1 William Beattie RN

Ch/285945(RFR/B/6611) Sto.1 Alfred Calrow RN

Tyneside Z/2726 AB Thomas Smith RNVR

T/Sub Lt. Frank Wendell Stacey RNVR