b. 10/12/1962 Edmonton, London.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 30/04, 09/05, 23/06, 24/07/2005.
Peter Allen Norton (1962-) was born on 10th December 1962 in Edmonton, London. He was adopted at a very young age by Donald William and Patricia Margaret Joan Norton (nee Chrisfield). However, his adoptive parents divorced when he and his brother Christopher, were very young. Patricia subsequently re-married to Eric Gambrill. The family settled in the village of Garlinge, near Margate, Kent, where Peter attended infant and junior schools before moving to Dane Court Technical High School in Broadstairs. Peter’s early ambition was to join the RAF, spending many years in the Air Training Corps in preparation. His ambition was incorrectly thwarted when a doctor said he had asthma as a child and would be unable to train as a pilot.
After school, Peter worked in a sports shop in Margate, until in 1982, he decided to join the Army. In January 1983 he reported to the Training Battalion & Depot, Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey. He initially applied for a commission, spending three months as a Potential Officer Cadet, but, following a request for him to delay to a later date, he decided to enlist into the RAOC and train as an Ammunition Technician (AT). He then completed his basic training and staff clerk training (a required second trade). In January 1984 he was posted to the Central Ammunition Depot at Kineton, where he qualified as an AT class 2, promoted to Lance Corporal and posted in 1985, to 52 Company, 5 Ordnance Battalion at Pombsen, then West Germany. He was promoted to Corporal and passed his first Explosives Ordnance Disposal (Improvised Explosive Device Disposal) course to qualify as a “No2” IEDD Operator and completed a six month tour in Northern Ireland.
Between 1987-1989, Peter was based at the Ammunition Inspectorate in Fallingbostel, West Germany, where he was upgraded to “No1” IEDD Operator, and was promoted to Sergeant. He also received a Commendation for his actions in making safe a Chieftain main battle tank which had been turned upside down in a river. He returned to the UK, and was posted to 11 Ordnance Battalion in Ashford, Kent. In 1991, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and completed a second six month tour in Northern Ireland. Whilst based at Didcot, Oxfordshire, he met his future wife, Susan Chapman. He was then promoted to Warrant Officer Class 2, as an instructor.
When Peter was selected for a Loan Service appointment in Oman he and Susan married on 21st December 1994. They moved to Oman in March 1995, and spent the next 2 and a half years based in Salalah. On return to the UK he became Troop Warrant Officer at Northolt, Middlesex, before he was appointed Senior Ammunition Technician (SAT) of 521 EOD Squadron in Catterick, North Yorkshire. Another tour of Northern Ireland followed in June 2001, before a significant shift in his career.
In July 2002, he was commissioned into the Royal Logistics Corps as an Ammunition Technical Officer with the rank of Captain. He was first posted to RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire as a staff officer. It was while there that his first child, Thomas, was born in 2003. In August 2004, he returned to 11 EOD Regiment as the Second in Command of 721 EOD Squadron at Ashchurch, Gloucestershire. His second son, Toby, was born in January 2005, and three months later, Peter was deployed on operations to Baghdad, Iraq, as the Second in Command of a Coalition weapons intelligence unit, funded and led by the US Navy.
On 30th April 2005, Norton and his team came under fire from RPGs while they were analysing the aftermath of an IED. On 9th May 2005, he was examining a supposedly neutralised suicide vest when he noticed the detonators were still connected. At great risk to himself he made the device safe by hand. On 23rd June he was examining the aftermath of another IED when he identified a secondary radio-controlled Claymore IED. He cleared the area and saw to it that a US disposal team cleared the device. Then on 24th July 2005, a convoy of three vehicles was attacked by a massive IED. The explosion completely destroyed 1 vehicle and killed 4 US soldiers. On arrival Norton quickly took command and ensured the safety of the remaining men. Norton was informed of a possible secondary wire to another IED. He decided to conduct a ‘one-man-risk’ examination of the area immediately surrounding the scene in order to allow his team to conduct a post-blast investigation. Whilst conducting the examination he trod on a concealed device which exploded. He suffered the loss of his left leg, severe injuries to his right leg, abdomen, back and left arm. His comrades came to administer first aid, but Norton had deduced that further devices were probably present. Before allowing them to help him, he instructed them where was safe to move. A further IED was discovered later 10 yards away.
Peter recovered from his severe injuries, though lost his left leg and hand. On 23rd March 2006, he was gazetted for the award of the George Cross, and on 2nd November 2006, he was presented with his medal by The Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace. Following his investiture, Peter remained in the Army, albeit not in an operational role. On 1st July 2008, he took part in a tandem parachute jump to raise money for the “Help For Heroes” charity. Peter is a patron of the charity. He also completed a MSc degree in Explosive Ordnance Engineering at Cranfield University.
On 27th March 2009, Peter was awarded the FBI Star, as his team on the day of his GC action contained two of their special agents. Having been promoted to Major, he retired from the Army on medical grounds on 1st August 2013. Sadly, his first marriage ended in divorce, and he re-married in 2013 to Kate Hewins, and they have two daughters of their own. In 2014, Peter became Chairman of the VC and GC Association, succeeding Jim Beaton GC. Peter held the role until December 2022 when he stood down to be replaced by Chris Finney GC. When I asked him for a quote about his GC action, for his page back in May 2015, his response was “Bugger me that was loud!”
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT COLLECTION , IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM (LOAN)