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The Airmen's Stories - F/O C N Foxley-Norris


Christopher Neil Foxley-Norris was born on 16th March 1917 in Birkenhead, the son of a solicitor who had been a Captain and Adjutant in the 3rd Battalion the Cheshire Regiment. CN Foxley-Norris was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Oxford where he read Greats. He belonged to the University Air Squadron.

He was granted a commission in Class 'AA' of the RAFO on 22nd December 1936. Foxley-Norris relinquished this on being granted a commission in the RAFVR on 14th December 1938.





In 1939 he won a Harmsworth Scholarship to the Middle Temple. Foxley-Norris was called up in early September 1939 and posted to 9 FTS Hullavington. A friend from the UAS went too - the future Group Captain Lord Cheshire VC.

With his training completed he went to the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum and then joined 13 Squadron at Douai in France.

Back in England after the collapse of France, Foxley-Norris volunteered to serve in Fighter Command and he was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down on 7th September 1940 to convert to Hurricanes.

He joined 111 Squadron at Drem on 29th September but this was an error and he went instead to 3 Squadron at Turnhouse on 30th September 1940 and moved to 615 Squadron at Northolt on 19th November.

On 26th February 1941 Foxley-Norris was jumped by Me109s and shot down in flames from 25000 feet in Hurricane IIa Z2754. He baled out, landing near Elmsted, east of Ashford, where he met with a hostile reception from the local population who were convinced that he was German. His Hurricane came down at Little Holt Farm.

In June 1941 Foxley-Norris was posted to CFS Upavon for an instructors course after which he went to 10 FTS Ternhill. He was later posted to Canada, to instruct in the Air Training Scheme.

In early 1943 Foxley-Norris went to Ferry Command, to fly Hudsons across the Atlantic. He was with 143 Squadron at North Coates in mid 1943, flying Beaufighters on anti-shipping duties as a Flight Commander.

After being court-martialled for an alleged breach of security and acquitted, Foxley-Norris was posted to 252 Squadron in the Middle East.

Flying from Cyprus, Foxley-Norris was involved in what he described as 'the disastrous and ill-conceived attempt to invade the Aegean islands of Cos and Leros'.



On 23rd September 1943 Foxley-Norris was promoted wing commander and appointed CO of 603 Squadron on convoy patrol and sweeps over the enemy-held Greek islands.

The squadron was disbanded at Gambut on 26th December 1944.

The personnel sailed from Port Said in the Capetown Castle and arrived at Liverpool on 6th January 1945, then went on to Coltishall. Foxley-Norris was given command of 143 Squadron, then part of the Banff Mosquito Strike Wing.

Having exchanged its Beaufighters for the faster, more powerful Mosquitos, the squadron ranged the Skaggerak, Kattegat and Germany's north-western seaboard for naval and other maritime targets.

He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 25th September 1945) the same month that he was granted a permanent commission.

His postwar service began with a spell at HQ 2 Group and a course at RAF Staff College.

In 1948 he was posted to command the Oxford University Air Squadron before returning in 1951 to the Staff College as a member of the directing staff. Then in 1953 he went to the Far East, where he served through the Malayan Emergency on the planning staff of HQ Far East, Singapore.

After three years he returned home, taking up planning duties at HQ Fighter Command and then commanding fighter stations at Stradishall, Suffolk, and (from 1958) West Malling in Kent. In 1960 he was called to the Air Ministry as director of organisation and administrative plans, moving up three years later to become Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (General).

The next year Foxley-Norris was promoted Air Vice-Marshal and returned to the Far East as air officer commanding (AOC) 224 Group, which comprised a force of fighters, bombers, helicopters and flying-boats supporting the Army in the campaign known as the Indonesian Confrontation.

Foxley-Norris returned home again in 1967 as director of RAF organisation for a year until being appointed commander-in-chief Germany and commander of Nato's 2nd TAF.

Finally, Foxley-Norris served as chief of personnel and logistics from 1971 to 1974 before retiring on 22nd April 1974 as an Air Chief Marshal.

He was made OBE (gazetted 2nd January 1956), CB (1966), KCB (1969) and GCB (1973). He became Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association in 1978. He was also for six years Chairman of the Cheshire Homes founded by his friend from university Leonard Cheshire VC.

Foxley-Norris died on 28th September 2003.

At the National Memorial to The Few at Capel-le-Ferne, the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall features the names of the Allied airmen who flew in the Battle.



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