Sketch by Jack Chalker

Croix de Guerre

In 1942, as the war progressed, Norman was sent to Iran and Iraq on the Persian Gulf.   Iraq had again, as now, become a source of trouble.  There was an Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 that gave the British permanent rights to two airfields in Iraq.  One near Basra and the other, a desert, flight training school near Falluja at Habbaniya. Free rights of access and transit were guaranteed by treaty.

NOTE: In 1941, Rashid Ali, who was working with the Germans, had become Prime Minister.  Along with three prominent Iraqi officers, he staged a revolt and attempted, militarily, to force the British out of Iraq.  Rashid Ali called this the “Arab Freedom Movement”, but it was anything but.  With great daring and a minimal force, the Brits subdued these rebel troops and kept the Germans from taking over the Iraqi oil fields for their own war effort.

Norman was again “loaned out”, this time to the “liberated” Iraqi Air Force, and was based in Basra.   While there, one of the Iraqi leaders asked Norman to teach his son to fly.  This was a real challenge, because the leader’s son was severely lacking of any talent in the field of flying.  Norman did his best, but said that the “Prince” was not destined to become a pilot of any great distinction, and bloody lucky if he didn’t kill himself in the learning process.   Norman noticed a strange thing about his paychecks while being based in Iraq.   He said his checks were almost double the RAF pay he had been getting previously.   He was delighted with the increased pay, but thought it was a mistake, and didn’t want to have to repay a lot of money at a later date.   He made inquiries and found out that he was being paid by the Iraqi Air Force, and at the officer grade they determined his position called for.   Not to argue with a good thing, Norman enjoyed the extra money and praised the Iraqi Air Force leaders for their insight into his true worth.

In 1943, Norman left the Iraqis and joined No. 52 Squadron in the 1st Tactical Air Force (Desert Air Force), where he stayed all through the North African, Sicily and Italy campaigns.

In May 1944, Norman returned to Britain and immediately rejoined No. 98 Squadron at RAF Dunsfold, on B-25 “Mitchell” medium bombers.  While there, he met and became friends with USAF General Jimmy Doolittle.  Norman said that they had met on four occasions during the war.  He flew many bombing sorties over France, Belgium and into Germany.   In September his squadron moved to a captured airfield in Brussels, Belgium.   Then it was on to Holland at Melsbroek with the 98th, still flying the B-25s.

The liberation of France from German occupation, in 1944, gave Norman the honorable task of personally piloting French General Charles de Gaulle back and forth to France.  This established a strong bond of trust between both men.   So much so that on de Gaulle’s triumphant return to Paris on August 26, 1944, Norman was requested to personally accompany General de Gaulle, by his side, as he marched through the Arch de Triumph, down the Champs Elysees, and into the heart of the city.   Norman was not permitted to wear his RAF uniform in this parade.  He had to quickly dress, in a borrowed, ill fitting, suit.  The arms and legs of the suit were a bit too short, but Norman obliged the General with great honor.   Norman was pictured, marching with General de Gaulle, on the cover of TIME Magazine.  Norman was awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal for his services to France.   He also was awarded the British DSO and DFC medals, among others, for his gallant flying exploits in the RAF.


Next Chapter

Love of Adventure



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[Norman] [War Clouds Gather] [German Onslaught] [Battle of Britain] [Far East] [Croix de Guerre] [Love of Adventure]


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