Born at Cooktown, Australia on 23 September 1890, Norman was the only son of Edward Robert (Ford) Findlay and Eleanor Ann Louisa Lee. His father was from Woolwich but his mother was from Crowle and had worked locally as a domestic servant before emigrating to Australia in 1886.
Norman was a mining engineer and had only recently been married when he enlisted as a Private (no 1582) with the Australian Naval & Military Expedition Force on 16th August 1914. He was posted to the Kennedy Regiment and set sail for German New Guinea with a number of other new recruits on the TSS Kanowna. The Kanowna was a recently requisitioned merchant ship still with its civilian crew who had grievences with the army and on 6th September with these being unresolved they refused to stoke the ship’s boilers and mutinied. Forced to turn around and return home, Norman was one of the men discharged when the Kanowna returned to Australia on 16th September.
It seems that at some point in 1915 Norman returned to Britain where he enlisted in the Royal Engineers, going out to France on 16th December 1916. Whilst with the Royal Engineers he was attached, as an observer, to the Royal Flying Corps where he served first with 38 and then 100 Squadron, the first dedicated bomber squadron in the RFC.
100 Squadron flew the two-seater Farman Experimental 2 biplane where the observer sat infront of the pilot and also acted as a gunner. Norman was with 100 Squadron when it became part of the new Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918. On 3rd April they moved from their current base at Ochey to Villeneux,, west of Chalons-sur-Mare, in the Champane-Ardennes Region.
Four days later Norman was detailed to ‘go up’ with 2nd Lieutenant Leslie Collins on a training flight. Only 19, 2nd Lieutenant Collins had only recently joined the Squadron and this was his first flight in the FE2. Unfortunately no report survives as to what happened next but the aeroplane crashed killing both men.
Norman was originally buried at Mailly-le-Camp French Military Cemetery. However in 1932 his body was exhumed and reburied in the Fere-Champenoise French National Cemetery.
Further details on Norman’s life can be found on the Australian WWI Pictorial Honour Roll: