SBLT Leslie John Norton, RANVR
Sub Lieutenant Leslie John Norton lost his life in a Seafire XV, whilst doing an air display at Schofields on 27 November 1945 (although the advice below reports the date of death as 29 Nov). The accident was initially blamed on pilot error, but an investigation found that at high speeds the Seafire was subject to aileron reversal. This condition could result in wing spar failure.
Above: A group portrait of former RAAF pilots who were the first group selected for training as Naval Aviators with the British Pacific Fleet (Fleet Air Arm), HMS Nabthorpe, at Schofields NSW. Identified back row from left: Acting Sub-Lieutenant (A/Sub Lt) Leslie John Norton, of Sydney, NSW, killed in a flying accident at Schofields on 29 November 1945; A/Sub Lt Robert Lindsay Davies (later Lieutenant Commander, (Lt Cmdr)), of Adelaide, SA; A/Sub Lt John Bradley (Jack) O’Connor, of Yarrawonga, Vic, formerly of 80 Squadron (Sqn), RAAF; A/Sub Lt Charlie Bowley, who later crash landed, going over the side of HMS Indomitable but was rescued by a following destroyer; Acting Lieutenant (A/Lt) Kenneth Brian Innes (Brian) Smith, of Adelaide, SA, formerly of 80 Squadron, RAAF, and an elementary and services flying instructor; A/Lt George Edward Pagan, of Damar, Qld; A/Lt Arthur John ‘Nat’ Gould, of Queensland, 2 Operational Training Unit and formerly of 75 and 457 Sqns, RAAF; A/Lt Clifford Herald Gray of Dungog, NSW.
Front row: A/Sub Lt George Firth Spencer ‘Spanky’ Brown, DFC, (later Lt Cmdr) of Echuca, Vic, formerly of 8 Operational Training Unit, who was killed in a flying accident on 5 January 1956; A/Lt Roy Clayson ‘Shorty’ Carroll, of Blackall, Qld, formerly of 1 Aircraft Depot; A/Sub Lt Philip Crothers, of Northhampton, WA, formerly of 2 Operational Training Unit; A/Lt Ian Sandford Loudon, of Port Moresby, PNG, formerly of 76 Sqn, RAAF. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
SBLT Norton is reported as being a former RAAF pilot selected for training as a naval aviator with the British Pacific Fleet at HMS Nabthorpe, Schofields NSW. He had served in the South West Pacific are in the RAAF which he apparently joined in 1942, but his RAAF Service Records are not available on the archives website. At the time of his death he was serving with 801 Squadron HMS Implacable, although the accident occurred at Schofields.
The accident is recounted in an excerpt from CMDR Mike Crosley’s book ‘They Gave Me A Seafire’, which can be viewed below: