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WW1 2nd Lieutenant Rupert Harold Imlay Norton

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Rupert Harold Imlay Norton was born on 13 June 1895 in New South Wales to Laura Marion and Herbert Henry Norton. He attended Remuera School and Auckland Grammar School, passing the exam for a free senior place at AGS in 1911. Also in 1911, the following Remuera boys also passed the same exam: Erni Bond, Rupert McKenzie, Anselm Beehan, Arthur Boucher and Revel Kelly. [1] Rupert also attended College Rifles’ N Z Signallers Company as a cadet. He was a keen hockey- player, being an ex-member of the Government Insurance Club in Wellington, and the Areta Club in Auckland, and an enthusiastic yachtsman. An elder brother, S. H. Norton, was serving with the Australian Forces. [2] 

He was working for the Public Trust Office in Wellington but had just transferred to the Auckland office when he enlisted on 2nd May 1915 as a private with the 5th Reinforcements. On completion of his training he was promoted and transferred to the 2nd Company of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion. [3] Rupert left New Zealand on the Tahiti in June 1915, heading for the Dardanelles. He was wounded at Gallipoli on 9th August 1915 and admitted to hospital on Mudros, not being discharged until 9th December 1915. He was then part of the evacuation of the Dardanelles on 30 December 1915 to England. Rupert was then slightly wounded in France on 29 May 1915 but remained in the field on duty and was at the Battle of the Somme in September 1916. On the 4th February 1917 he was admitted to hospital at Walton-on-Thames for one week while on leave. 

On the 19th April he was nominated for training for a NZEF commission and left for England via Boulogne. He was promoted to be a lieutenant on 24th May 1917 and in June 1917 qualified as a bombing instructor at Southern Command Bombing School at Lyndhurst. He also completed a course in anti-gas measures in November 1917. Rupert didn’t leave for France again until 4th April 1918. [4] Rupert was wounded in action on 29th April in the neck and face and was admitted to the 3rd Canadian hospital at Doullens, Somme, before being transferred to the No.2 British Red Cross at Rouen where he died on the 9th May 1918. He was 22 years old. [5] 

The New Zealand Times reported: Second-Lieutenant R. H. I. Norton, reported died of wounds on May 9th, was the youngest son of Mrs H. H Norton, of Auckland, and was well known in this city. For some time he was on the Wellington staff of the Public Trust, but prior to his enlistment, with the 5th Reinforcements was transferred to the Auckland office. The late officer enlisted as a private, and received his promotion in the field. He resigned from the Instructional Staff at Sling Camp early this year to return to the trenches, and on April 29th received the wounds which caused his death. A brother. Sergeant S. H. Norton, is serving with the Australian Forces, and the remaining one, Corporal L. H. Norton, is at present acting as a bayonet instructor at Trentham. [6] 

Rupert Norton is buried in the St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France, B. 1. 8., and is remembered on the Remuera Primary School gates, the College Rifles Roll of Honour in Remuera and the Auckland Grammar School War Memorial. 

References 

[1] Secondary Education. Senior Free Place Results. Auckland Star, 19 January 1912. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19120119.2.82 

[2] Private R H Norton. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19160622.2.53 Auckland Star, 22 June 1916 

[3]2ndLIEUTENANT R. H. I. NORTON. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZTIM19180516.2.13. New Zealand Times, 16 May 1918 [4] NORTON, Rupert Harold Imlay - WW1 6/2448 - Army [Original Paper Personnel File]. Archway Item ID: R107880596. Archway Series Number: 18805, and Archives New Zealand. Archway Item ID: R21381168. Archway Series Number: 18805.  

[5] Obituary: Auckland Grammar School Chronicle. Second Term, 1918. 

[6] Lieutenant R H Norton. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZTIM19180516.2.13 New Zealand Times, Volume XLIII, Issue 9972, 16 May 1918 

Images 

[1] Norton Rupert Harold Imlay. Herman Schmidt Photographer, 1917. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-N2879 

[2] Norton Rupert Harold Imlay. Herman Schmidt Photographer, 1917. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-N2880 

[3] Norton Rupert Harold Imlay. Herman Schmidt Photographer, 1917. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-N2881