- Contributed by
- Marjorie Roby
- People in story:
- Norman Pennington, Edith Pennington, Mary Brook, Mary Pennington, Marjorie Roby
- Location of story:
- Rotherham, Yorkshire
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 24 December 2004
Norman Pennington, Northumberland Fusiliers
Norman Pennington was born at 65, Arthur Street, Thornhill, Rotherham, on Christmas Day 1911. He was always a very gentle boy. He left school at 14, and started his apprenticeship at Heaton’s Brass Works, as a turner. He started at 6 shillings per week! Rising to 12 shillings at 16, 18 shillings at 18 years and full money at £3.3.0 on his 21st birthday, when he got the sack!
That was the normal thing in those days. The employers just set another boy on. Things were very bad then. Anyhow, he couldn’t get work anywhere, it was right in the middle of the “slump” and eventually they would have stopped his dole and his father would have had to keep him, so that was when he joined the army in 1933.
He enlisted for 6 years. He served at Aldershot, Catterick and Portsmouth. He transferred from the Kings’ Own Hussars to the Northumberland Fusiliers where he took a course as a Saddler. His Regiment went to Egypt in 1935, but he stayed in England to complete his course. He eventually went to Egypt in 1936, traveling on a cruise ship full of holidaymakers. He said it was the best holiday of his life, cruising the Mediterranean for 10 days!
He served in Egypt for the next three years, expecting to be time-expired in 1939. However, war was declared and he was unable to come home. He then served the next four years of hard fighting and was eventually in the Siege of Tobruk. We didn’t know at the time where he was, and were very upset at not hearing from him for such a long time, particularly his mother! She wrote to his regimental headquarters at Newcastle to ask for news of him and they wrote to say he was well and serving his regiment. No word about where he was, but we guessed it was Tobruk.
In the October of 1942 we heard from him saying he had been rescued by ship and was back in Alexandria. Montgomery was now in charge in Egypt and in November the Battle of El Alarmein took place. It was hugely successful, and they just kept on advancing. Such a wonderful change. They had been pushed back so many times, but this time it was great. They eventually reached Tunis and Romonel was beaten, and most of the German African Corps were taken prisoner.
The decision was taken at the highest level that men who had served 7 years without a break would be brought home, whilst the others would go on to invade Sicily and Italy. Of course, we knew nothing of this so it was a complete shock to his mother when he walked in at 9 pm in November 1943. His father had just gone to work on the night shift at Steel, Peach and Tozers Steel Works, and mother had gone next door to her sister Jessies’ when she heard footsteps coming down the yard, and she dashed home thinking it was Dad coming back. So she had the happiest shock of her life when it turned out to be her boy. She was over the moon.
He had a fortnight’s leave and he met Edith, his future wife, on the second day he was home. He didn’t get another leave until Easter when they were married. In June he went abroad with the invasion forces on D. Day 2, and he fought his way through France and Belgium, until he was wounded at Nihmegen. He was shot through the thigh with 6 bullets, one of them breaking his thigh bone. He was flown over to Swansea to hospital and then transferred to Sheffield. We all spent Christmas at mother’s and no-one could get to the fire as Ted, her son-in-law, was at one side with a badly-broken leg caused by an accident while working on an aerodrome, and Norman on the other side with his broken leg, both stretched out as they had full-length plasters.
He had a very long convalescence but was eventually invalided out of the army and became a Chelsea Pensioner. He then started to work at the Rotherham Advertiser Offices, and very soon purchased a newsagent’s business on Cambridge Street. From then on they lived a quiet life. They had no children, although they reared John, Edith’s nephew, whose mother had died at his birth. Norman’s adventures had come to an end.
Written by his sister, Mary.
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