The Airmen's Stories - P/O N Sutton
Norman Sutton was born in Yorkshire in 1915 lived originally in Bradford, where he was educated at Belle Vue High School, as was the author JB Priestley. The family later moved to St. Helens and Sutton became well-known locally as a sportsman and played for the St. Helens Rugby Union FC (not to be confused with the more notable St Helens Rugby League club. He was also active in local politics and worked as a clerk in the Sales Department of Pilkington Brothers, the glass manufacturers.
Sutton joined 611 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force at Speke before the war as an Aircrafthand. He was mobilised on 24th August 1939 and by February 1940 was an LAC u/t Pilot.
He married local girl Jean Hankinson around this time.
Having completed his training, he was commissioned on 17th August 1940, converted to Spitfires at 5 OTU Aston Down and rejoined 611 Squadron, then at Digby, on 9th September. He was assigned to 'B' Flight and declared operational on 22nd September 1940.
On 24th September he flew in a convoy patrol, his first operational sortie.The following day he flew from Digby to Manchester Ringway before flying a patrol over Sealand and returning to Digby in the late afternoon. On 27th September he took a Spitfire from Digby to Tern Hill and on 28th September flew a patrol over Liverpool, this was his last operational flight with with 611 Squadron.
When 611 moved to Tern Hill, Sutton was posted to 72 Squadron at Biggin Hill on the 29th. Other replacement pilots were Pilot Officers H Case, T Davy and D Secretan.
He was killed on 5th October after colliding with Sgt. RCJ Staples, who survived in Spitfire X4544, shortly after taking off from Biggin Hill to intercept Me109's over Maidstone. Sutton's Spitfire, K9989, crashed and burned out.
Sutton was 26 years old. He is buried in St. Helens Cemetery, Lancashire.
He is also commemorated on his mother's headstone (below).
Sutton's grave fell into disrepair but was restored and rededicated in October 2015, almost 75 years since his loss (images above).
The ceremony can be viewed at:
Additional research and images courtesy of Adrian Cork, whose research can be viewed at: