Purbeck Biographies

Charles Talbot Norman
(1884- 1918)

by Rosie Norman

My husband's NORMAN ancestors have been traced back several generations, many working in the quarries on the Isle of Purbeck and through intermarriage connecting with other families in the area.

Walter NORMAN, born 1858 in Swanage was no exception - his occupation noted on the census was stonemason/quarryman. His wife, (they married on 25 December 1876 at Swanage Parish Church), was Sarah Talbot HATCHARD, born 1858 in Langton Matravers. Walter died age 55 in 1913 and Sarah in 1924 - they are buried together in Northbrook Cemetery, Swanage. In 1881 they were shown living at Bell Street, Swanage and in 1901 at 1 Providence Cottages, Swanage where they raised a family of 5 - Walter (1878-1929), Charles Talbot (1884-1918), Ann and Samuel 1885, Alfred 1888-1961. By 1918 they were living at New Cottages, Herston.

Francis Charles Talbot NORMAN (1884-1918) with his wife Annie Amelia (nee POND) and children Kathleen, Ruby and Francis. 
Taken by Powells on the sea front at Swanage, possibly in 1916.
This story concerns their second son Charles Talbot NORMAN born in Herston on the 17 January 1884. He also became a quarryman and in June1906 married Annie Amelia POND, (born 1882 in Swanage) daughter of George POND (1859-1937) and Mary PHIPPARD (1858-1930). The Pond family were responsible for a quantity of building works in the area. Charles and Annie had 3 children, all born in Swanage – Kathleen 1907, Ruby 1910 and Francis Charles Talbot in 1913. 

When Charles was called for military service in WW1 he was working on the Isle of Portland. In the Will he made for the Army on 27 August 1916 he left everything to Annie and the children at 1 Park Road, Easton, Portland. He enlisted in Weymouth and went to France as a Gunner in 138 Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery where on 8 June 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field (possibly for repairing field telephone lines). This Medal was for acts above and beyond the call of duty and his award was listed in the London Gazette of 29 August 1918 (poignantly he had already been killed by then). When awarded the medal, his battery was serving with the 51st Heavy Artillery Group and just under a month later on 4 July 1918 he was killed in action (age 34).

His name is engraved on the War Memorial overlooking Swanage Bay and appears on the Roll of Honour in St Mary’s Church Swanage. He is also remembered with an engraved brick at the Royal Artillery Museum, London while he lies at rest in La Neuvelle Cemetery, Corbie, France. Corbie is a village on the Somme, where, in April 1916 No 21 Casualty Clearing Station opened at La Neuvelle and remained until March the following year. The British Cemetery was mainly for burials from the hospital of British and Dominion soldiers, with a few graves (Charles Talbot Norman’s amongst them) being added during the fighting near the Somme in 1918.

Meanwhile, back home in Dorset, Annie received the stark notification “Madam, it is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office notifying the death of No 138556 Gunner Charles Talbot Norman, Regiment 138 Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery which occurred with the B.E.F. France on the 4 July 1918. The report is to the effect that he was Killed in Action”

Widowed at 36, Annie returned to Swanage where she raised her children and also her nephew Francis Fred POND whose mother, Violet (nee PROWD), died when he was born in 1921. In November 1921 while living at Kingsley, Priest Road, Swanage she received a letter enclosing the British War and Victory Medals in memory of her husband’s service with the British Forces during the war. Her son Francis left the area when he joined the RAF as a boy entrant but both daughters married and settled in Swanage where Annie lived surrounded by family until the end of her life in the mid 1960’s.

A sad footnote to this tragic tale is the death of the only son Francis Charles Talbot Norman (age 25) in an air crash in 1939 but this is a story for another time.