Former Wren receives medal for Second World War service

Topic: Fighting armsFleet Air Arm

A former Wren who joined the Fleet Air Arm on her 18th birthday in 1944 has received a medal for her service.

Pamela Norton, from Sheffield, served just over two years in the WRNS at RNAS Ayr, HMS Wagtail, in Scotland, during the Second World War as a telegraphist.

The 94-year-old did not think she was eligible for a medal but following enquiries and an application by close family friend Alison Garner, Miss Norton was presented with it in a small ceremony at her home.

Not “wanting a fuss” Miss Norton was given the medal by Commodore Phil Waterhouse, Naval Regional Commander Northern England, accompanied by buglers from the Royal Marines Band Scotland and navy personnel from HMS Eaglet.

Cdre Waterhouse described Pam’s story as wonderful. He said: “It was a great honour to meet her and to finally present her medal, particularly in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, on behalf of the Royal Navy, nearly three quarters of a century after she had truly earned it serving our country selflessly.

“It was such a pity she was not presented with her medal many years ago, but it is an absolute delight to set the record straight and make it such a special occasion to remember as a tribute to her.”

Miss Norton volunteered to join the service having just turned 18 and spent her time at HMS Wagtail, home to the Bombardment Spotting School, No 3 Barracuda Servicing Unit, Flag Officer Carrier Training Squadron and No 772 Fleet Requirements Unit.

During the war, the station had the capacity for 195 Royal Navy/RAF officers, 17 WRNS officers, 1,206 Royal Navy ratings and 350 WRNS personnel. Aircraft flown from HMS Wagtail included Barracudas, Wildcats and Hellcats.

Following the medal ceremony, Pam said she thoroughly enjoyed her service career and was proud of it. She added she was flattered and pleased to be recognised by the Royal Navy.

Chief Petty Officer Trish Wilkinson, who joined the navy as a Wren and served in the Fleet Air Arm for 22 years, was also at the service. She said: “Thanks to people like Pam I don’t think we will ever have to experience anything like that again.

“They are so humble and never think they did anything - but they are the real unsung heroes of the war. It really was a delight to meet Pamela.”

After being demobbed in 1946, Miss Norton returned to help run the family business Norton’s Aga Range cookers.

They are so humble and never think they did anything - but they are the real unsung heroes of the war

Chief Petty Officer Trish Wilkinson