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Private Frank Norman 10003 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment


Private Frank Norman was born in Barnstaple in 1894 to William and Susanna Norman and lived at 47, Bradiford. Prior to enlisting with the 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, just after the outbreak of war, he worked at Radford Bros Turning Mill in Bradiford. After 4 months of training he went to France in November 1914.
In February 1915, Frank was home recovering from frost bite suffered during the First Battle of Ypres and his story of Christmas in the trenches was reported in the North Devon Journal under the headline ‘Barumite’s Experience at the Front’. On Christmas morning a truce was called and the opposing forces spent the day singing carols, exchanging cigarettes and cigars, and talking and walking. At dusk they were ordered back to their trenches and the truce ended.
The battalion returned to the Somme in July 1916 and, in September, was involved in the capture of Leuze Wood in the Battle of Guillemont. Frank is thought to have been wounded on 3rd September, one of the 376 casualties suffered by the 1st Devons. He was evacuated by hospital ship but died of his wounds on 5th September, age 22, and was buried at sea. He is commemorated in Pilton Church, on the Thiepval Memorial and in Rock Park, Barnstaple.
Many thanks are due particularly to John Norman, Frank’s great-nephew and to Brian Barrow, for his tremendous work in collecting information on all the men of Pilton who died in the Great War.

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