|Date of Birth||December 30, 1990|
|Place of Birth||Norman, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Peter Thornton, father, 557 Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Clerk|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Army Medical Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||557 Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||January 1, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||25|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||January 11, 1960|
|Age at Death||69|
|Buried At||cremation by Ocean View Burial Park, Burnaby, BC|
Norman McLeod Thornton was born on 30 December 1890 in Norman, Ontario, a small community a couple of kilometres west of Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. Both of his parents were born in Scotland, father Peter Thornton in 1850 in Edinburgh and mother Janet Middlemas Anderson in 1857 in Paisley. The couple married during the third quarter of 1885 in the registration district of Cockermouth in Cumberland in England, immigrating to Canada a short time later. Peter arrived in Quebec on 6 September 1885 on the Oregon, listed as a labourer on his way to Winnipeg on the passenger list. A record for Janet was not found but she was likely on the same ship or arrived soon after.
Peter and Janet first settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba, giving birth to son Arthur in December of 1886 followed by son David in July of 1888. Sadly, David died that August. Moving to Norman, Norman was born and son Robert in 1893. At the time of the 1891 census for Norman, Janet’s brother Robert was also living with the family. Returning to Winnipeg, Martin Gavin was born in 1896. Over the years Peter worked as an accountant.
Norman enlisted on 1 January 1916 in Winnipeg. At the time he was living with his parents and some of his siblings on Selkirk Avenue and was working as a clerk. As a Private with the No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance, Canadian Army Medical Corps, Norman embarked from Saint John, New Brunswick on 2 March 1916 aboard the Scandinavian. By 3 April the unit was in France.
Field ambulances were mobile medical units that treated wounded soldiers very close to the combat zone. They formed an intermediate level in the casualty evacuation chain that stretched from the Regimental Aid Posts near the front line and the Casualty Clearing Stations located outside the range of the enemy’s artillery.
In late September 1916, at the Somme, Norman sustained shrapnel wounds to his left arm, lacerating the muscles. He was admitted No 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital in Boulogne on 2 October. On the 8th Norman was invalided to England to the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool, transferring to Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epsom on 15 December. After being discharged on 8 January 1917, Norman worked at a number of places before proceeding overseas in December. He was first posted to the No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance before returning to the No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance on 1 January 1918 when he was awarded one Good Conduct Badge.
In March of 1918 Norman was admitted to the No 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station with osteomyelitis of the left radius, infection of his old wound had set in. He was transferred to the No 4 Canadian General Hospital in Etaples on 13 March and was discharged on 5 May. Returning to his unit, Norman sustained shrapnel wounds to his head and neck on 26 August 1918 at Arras, fracturing his skull. Invalided to England on 1 September he was transferred to the Princess Patricia Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Bexhill on the 24th. He was transferred to the No 5 Canadian General Hospital in Liverpool on 19 February 1919 where it was decided that he be invalided to Canada.
Norman embarked for Canada aboard the Araguaya on 11 March and was admitted to the Manitoba Military Hospital Tuxedo Park in Winnipeg on the 26th. He was discharged from service as medically unfit on 2 May 1919 in Winnipeg.
Norman’s brother Robert enlisted in February of 1917 and served overseas with the 4th Battalion, Canadian Engineers. He returned to Canada in May of 1919.
At the time of the 1921 census, Norman was living with his parents in Winnipeg. He was listed as a medical doctor although he didn’t graduate from the University of Manitoba until 1924. Upon graduation Norman did an internship at the Vancouver General Hospital before travelling to England for post graduate studies. At some point he worked for two years as a ship’s doctor.
On 28 September 1926, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Norman married Flora Ann Mellish. Born on 5 September 1892 in Montague, Prince Edward Island, Flora was the daughter of John Mellish and Margaret Ann Johnstone. By the time of the 1916 census Flora had been living in Winnipeg and working as a stenographer.
Norman and Flora returned to Canada the next year, arriving in Quebec aboard the Montrose on 22 April. They settled in Vancouver where Norman had a general practice until joining the Anaesthetic Staff at the Vancouver General Hospital in 1928, working there until his retirement in 1956. Norman and Flora gave birth to one son, Norman Martin.
Norman died on 11 January 1960 in the St Vincent’s Hospital in Vancouver. His Veteran Death card listed his wife Flora on Vine Avenue in Vancouver as next of kin. He was also survived by his son Dr Norman Thornton who was attending a post graduate course in anaesthesia at McGill University in Montreal at time, his brother Arthur in Australia, and brother Robert in Ottawa. He was predeceased by his father Peter (1932), mother Janet (1934), and brother Martin (1944), all in Vancouver. Flora later died on 28 October 1980 in Vancouver. Further trace of Arthur was not found. According to Norman’s British Columbia death record, cremation was by Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby. Their son Norman died in 2013 in Fort Langley, British Columbia.
By Judy Stockham
Photograph of Norman is from the University of Manitoba Archives