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Norman Okell a World War 1 Christleton Hero

Norman Okell

In Christleton commemorated - The War Memorial, Church Memorial at St. James’ Church and Institute
Norman Okell
The Old Hall, Littleton
Arnold House School & King’s School Chester
Canterbury New Zealand Mounted Rifles
Service No.
He was killed in action on Hill 60 at Gallipoli
Death Date:
28th August 1915, age 23 years

Norman was born at Littleton Old Hall, the son of John and Emma Okell. He was educated at Arnold House and King’s Schools Chester. Life was tough for young people at that time with few jobs to take up, except on the land. Many choose to leave these islands and find a new life across the world in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.

18 year old Norman Okell made the hazardous journey across the world to South Island New Zealand, and became a sheep farmer on the Canterbury Plains near Christchurch actually landing by complete co-incidence at the port of Lyttleton. Life was tough and hard but we suspect that he made a reasonable living as there was a great need for migrant workers to work on the land in New Zealand at that time.

When war was declared in Europe, Norman immediately signed up like thousands of others and became a Trooper in the Canterbury New Zealand Rifles. He was just 23 years old, and together with thousands of New Zealanders and Australians formed the ANZAC Regiments who fought so bravely for their homelands. More New Zealanders died per head of population than any other country.

Norman’s journey took him to the hot dry lands of the Dardanelles, and area near the Aegean Sea held by the Turks, as the allies wanted to keep the sea route open to their allies from Russia, on the Bospherous near Constantinople.

In April 1915 British French and ANZAC Troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsular to be met with fierce opposition of tens of thousands of Turkish Troops dug in all around the area behind strong fortifications. The attacking forces were under severe fire from every direction wherever they landed, and were lambs to the slaughter, trapped between the sea and the surrounding hills. 106,000 Officers and Men were lost and a further 90, 000 struck down with sickness.

Winston Churchill had been one of the great supporters of the idea of taking the Dardanelles, but even he admitted defeat when a fresh attack by new Allied troops at Suvla Bay in August 1915 was a disaster.

The Official record says that on 22nd August Hill 60 was attacked by the Canterbury and Otago Mounted Rifles, followed by the 18th Australian Infantry. The Hill was eventually captured between the 27th - 29th August and held until the evacuation after defeat in the December. Norman had been in the company that tried to take Suvla Bay and was killed in action on the 28th August 1915. He is commemorated on Hill 60 at Suvla Bay on the New Zealand Memorial to the fallen one of four in that area of the Gallipoli Peninsula whose graves are not known. It bears 180 names including that of brave Norman Okell. Age 23

The cemetery at Suvla Bay is close to one where Percy Dickinson also from Littleton is buried, and a short distance away from the grave of Tom Broster the Village Butcher from Rock House Christleton, who is buried at Shrapnel Valley Cemetery.

  •  St. James' Christleton War Memorial

    St. James' Christleton War Memorial

  •  Chester Cathedral-South Transept:  Arnold House School Memorial Window.

    Chester Cathedral-South Transept: Arnold House School Memorial Window.

  •  New Zealand Memorial at Hill 60 Gallipoli

    New Zealand Memorial at Hill 60 Gallipoli

  •  War Memorial at Springs, near Christchurch, New Zealand

    War Memorial at Springs, near Christchurch, New Zealand

Research January 2015
David Cummings: Christleton Great War Voices Project
Tony Watkins: Christleton Local History Group
Seb Neal: King’s School Chester
Norman Okell a World War 1 Christleton Hero