Baker, Norman

Norman Baker was born in 1916 in the west end of Toronto, where he attended Runnymede Collegiate.  Norm’s parents hailed from Riegate, England and had emigrated to Canada before the Great War, and Norm and his two brothers were raised in the British tradition.  And they were fortunate not to be impacted by the realities of the Depression; Norm’s father continued to work at the CN railyard, and his mother kept the boys fed, while they played sports and went to movies and school.  With the coming of the war, Norm and his brother Hugh went into the reserves and later the regular army.  Norm recalled his unit doing guard duty in Niagara, while he began to do clerical work.  The call to go overseas came at the midpoint of the war, and Norm found himself on a troop ship bound for Scotland, and then on a train to Aldershot, where he was initially stationed.  They spent much of the next year training, and Norm continued to work as the company clerk.  With the cross channel invasion in June 1944, Norm was reclassified as 1A, ready to be a combat soldier.  His unit made the journey in July 1944, landing in Arromanches.  They headed inland towards the front lines, moving through the destruction of Caen and on to Etreville, where Norm was reassigned to the Royal Regiment of Canada.  It was there that he first came under fire, from his own Lancasters, and then the Germans.  Norm was made the company clerk as the previous clerk had been killed just before he arrived, and he made detailed notes as the unit moved through France, Belgium, the Netherland, and into Germany.  With VE Day, Norm joined the celebrations in London, as he happened to be on leave; he then did the repatriation work for his fellow soldiers before he headed home himself in late 1945.  A few years later, he met Eileen, and the two of them fell into the rhythm of postwar Canadian life.

With the assistance of the Royal Canadian Legion, Norman Baker was interviewed in his home for this project by Scott Masters in November 2018.