Our Unknown Story involves a whole family of brave men who lived on the bravest little street in England, Chapel Street in Altrincham. Seven brothers, including my Grandfather, played a number of roles in the First World War and all then came home to Chapel Street. Of the residents in Chapel Street, 161 residents had served in the War by November 1918 and only 29 did not come home.
My Grandfather, Thomas Norton served as a Gunner & Engine Driver for the Royal Garrison Artillery. Thomas had recently lost his wife who died giving birth to my father and he had moved back to Chapel Street to live with his parents and siblings. Eventually he was discharged following a gunshot wound to the head.
Six of his brothers also left Chapel Street to serve in the conflicts. Robert Norton joined the Cheshire Regiment, Michael Norton joined the Cheshire Regiment and later the South Lancashire Regiment, David Norton joined the Royal Army Service Corps as a Driver and John Norton was a Sergeant Major Instructor in the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. Peter Norton had been kept at home so that he could help look after his sisters but, against the wishes of his mother, he joined the Gordon Highlanders serving in France. Finally, the seventh brother Joseph had a special story of his own – while serving as a Company Sergeant Major with the Grenadier Guards, he rescued an injured man from the battlefield in an act of huge bravery. The man turned out to be Harold Macmillan who described Joseph as a “splendid man” in his biography. He later joined the Metropolitan Police as a custodian at 10 Downing Street serving under four Prime Ministers.
The street was named ‘the bravest little street in England’ by King George V and their bravery is commemorated by a blue plaque on the site where the street used to be.
In these difficult times as we navigate our ways through Covid 19, we will all find it hard to show our respects in the usual way but one thing is certain, we WILL remember them.
From Albert Norton.
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