Gogo, Norman

Norm Gogo grew up in Toronto and Michigan, as the family moved when his father was transferred and began work in the Motor City. But the good economic times did not last, and as the Depression worsened the family returned to Canada along Hwy. 5. Back in Toronto Norm went to school in the city’s west end, and during his teenage years he opted to follow the military lifestyle of his father, joining the 48th Highlanders militia when he was old enough. Norm did the drills and attended the parades, and all the while he watched the war clouds begin to loom over Europe while he worked and made ends meet at the Robert Simpson Company in Toronto. The company had a strict rule about no personal phone calls, but the militia did not know that rule, and when war was declared Norm found himself summarily called to the Armoury, and his life quickly was on a new trajectory. He left Simpson’s behind and began regular army training, with an eye to his future role in the emerging conflict. The company prepared to ship out that winter, but as Norm was not yet 19, he was not allowed to go. His time would come a few months later, in part because he and a friend took signals/communications training. With that new skill in hand, they were sent overseas in 1940, and Norm began his journey across the English countryside, always on the move from one base to the next, all while honing his physical conditioning and signals acumen. Along the way, Norm took ill, and he spent a considerable time in hospital, going through sinus surgery and recovery. He also managed to find a girl and get married during this early portion of the war! But those two asides did not deter Norm and the others from their ultimate role, and he was dispatched across the English Channel a few days after D-day, putting his signals training to the test in one battlefield after another as he made his way through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. As he had been overseas for a long period of time, Norm was recalled to Canada early; he remembers that he was on the ship heading back when VE Day occurred. Back in Toronto, he was united with his war bride and young family as they had secured an earlier passage thanks to the Canadian military. Norm fell back into the rhythm of civilian life, first living with his parents and then getting a home on his own, and he returned to work at Simpson’s. But after five years of training and fighting, the job did not have the same allure, so he opted to work for the Toronto Fire Department, where he made a career for 35 years.
We met Norm courtesy of the 48th Highlanders and Al Kowalenko, and Scott Masters interviewed Norm in his home in Penetang in August 2018.