Remembered by: Michael Welch
Date added: 14 Feb 2011
Norman George Welch was born in Glasgow in 1917, the second youngest of five siblings, and although he suffered ill health when he was young, he survived the longest.
His family moved to Tunbridge Wells, where in 1934 Norman matriculated at the Skinner's School, with which he continued a life long association.
In 1936 Norman began training as a pharmacist with Boots the Chemist : however by 1940 he followed his brother Leo, into the RAF. And by coincidence Leo was his flying instructor in Tiger Moths.
In August 1942 Norman took part in the air battle over Dieppe, flying a Spitfire. In the book The Greatest Air Battle, the author Norman Franks records that “Sergeant Norman Welch's Spitfire was damaged, but he was able to make a successful belly landing back at base.” In Norman's pilot logbook, his entry for that day read “Commando cover. Sheared undercarriage locking pins on landing.” Norman was later to fly in operations over North Africa and Italy.
In 1946 Norman left the RAF and then in 1947 he completed his qualification as a pharmacist. By 1950 he had moved to Nigeria and later to Freetown in Sierra Leone, a period of his life upon which he would often reminisce.
Norman returned to Britain in 1963 to continue being a pharmacist with Boots and then in 1964 he joined the London West Africa lodge of the Masons, of which he was a member until he died.
Norman was a quiet and reserved character, always meticulously dressed and he would often joke that to travel beyond the M25 to visit us in Devon would require a passport and vaccinations. And so it was for this reason that we only really saw Norman on special occasions.
One of Norman's greatest pleasures, however was to take out family or friends in his beloved London. This would usually include the theatre and a good restaurant.
Beneath Norman's quiet exterior lay a keen intellect and a dry sense of humour. His bookshelves contained texts in Greek and Latin, books on opera (he had been a keen singer), history, chemistry, economics and later computing.
He would always write a letter at Christmas, birthdays and other family occasions.
As a family we treasure these letters, being as they were always very witty, although it sometimes would take a couple of readings to understand his cryptic sense of humour.
Norman was 93 when he died; he was a real gentleman, a beloved member of the family, and we shall miss him.