The Last Valentine From A WWII Soldier

February 13, 2019. When family members have saved information about their loved ones who died, and are willing to share, it warms our hearts and makes Pieter’s research into the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion that much more relevant.  So, when Harry Norton invited us to come to his home in Charlottetown to talk about his older brother, WWII soldier Ernest Murray NORTON, we didn’t hesitate.

Harry Norton & Pieter

Harry Norton, left, with Pieter Valkenburg. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Ernest was born April 18, 1924 in Crapaud, the son of Harry Vernon Norton and Hazel Reid.  He enlisted on July 4, 1940 with the Prince Edward Highlanders and later was transferred into the West Nova Scotia Regiment.  In 1942 he left Canada for England.

Ernest Murray Norton

Ernest Murray Norton. (Photo credit: Harry Norton family collection)

Among the treasures saved by Harry Norton were letters that give a picture of the man behind the soldier’s uniform.  In a May 3, 1944 letter from Italy, written to his younger brother Fred, Ernest gave a summary of his travels.  Because of censorship he couldn’t give any details, but he explained that from England he had “gone to North Africa, then to Sicily, to Italy, went to hospital in Malta by plane, returned back to North Africa, and then again to Italy.” The reference of going to hospital by plane to Malta was because he’d been wounded.   In the same letter, he also thanks Fred for giving their mother a Valentine’s card from him.

 

The last Valentine’s card to his mother, lovingly made on Ernest Norton’s behalf by his brother Fred.  (Photo credits: Harry Norton family collection)

Unfortunately, it was the last Valentine’s card from Ernest.  Shortly after the letter was written, Ernest was killed, and is now buried at Cassino War Cemetery in Italy.

On June 2, 1944, Chaplain Herlaut of the West Nova Scotia Regiment wrote to Mrs. Norton about her son’s death.  He explained that Ernest and another signaller were instantly killed on May 20, 1944 while operating their signal set. He wrote: “I was at the scene a few moments afterwards and buried both boys together.  I was able to return a few days ago and erected a white cross to mark their graves.

Original wooden cross Norton

Original wooden cross placed by Chaplain Herlaut in 1944. (Photo credit: Harry Norton family collection.)

Norton gravestone

Current gravestone of Ernest Norton at Cassino War Cemetery in Italy. (Photo Credit: Canadian Virtual War Memorial at http://www.vetarans.gc.ca.)

Ernest Norton was a lucky man never to have been forgotten by his loved ones, with so much family information about him!  Do you have photos or information to share on any of the soldiers discussed in this and previous blog postings?  If so, please let us know. We still are in need of photos.  You can send an email to dariadv@yahoo.ca or comment on this blog.

© Daria Valkenburg