Lenswood Uniting hero remembered

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Relatives of World War II hero, Hartley Graham Norton, honoured his memory at a special outreach service held at Lenswood Uniting Church on Sunday 3rd October.

The service highlighted the centenary year of the birth of Pilot Officer Norton, and the meeting coincided exactly with the anniversary of his death over the skies of war-torn Europe in 1943, when he was aged only 22.

Church member Evelyn Pearse told the congregation the Norton family were pioneers who came to South Australia from England with nothing, and soon became well acquainted with tragedy.

‘The two world wars had a particular impact, as the family lost their eldest son William in the first war and their youngest son Hartley in the second war,’ Evelyn said.

‘How incredibly sad and heartbreaking this must have been for their parents, whose eldest son William died as a war hero before Hartley was born.’

Church member Brenton Green also addressed the service, explaining how Hartley’s mother and father had to give permission for their youngest son to join the war effort.

‘Because he was under 21, Hartley required written parental consent which, one can only imagine, was distressing for his parents to give,’ he said.

Guest preacher David d’Lima of Family Voice Australia said Hartley’s parents ‘effectively signed his death warrant’ by granting consent for their son to join the Royal Australian Air Force, given the horrendous rate of loss.

‘But Hartley no doubt heard sermons in this very place about the Christian hope we have, because of what Christ has done, by laying down his life for us,’ David d’Lima said.

‘The memorial plaque here in the church building quotes the words Jesus said about himself: “Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.”’

‘However, the plaque is not there for Hartley’s benefit, but for ours, because we must have the dead among us,’ David d’Lima said.

‘I’m sure Hartley knew fully the risks of joining the Air Force, but it was to serve King and Country, in the assurance that death is not to be feared by Christian people.

With such freedom in mind, he even did a loop-the-loop in his flimsy Tiger Moth airplane over the town of Lenswood, before departing for Europe, where soon thereafter he would lay down his life for his friends.’

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