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Norman Albone
Norman Albone

A naval hero who worked on the North Atlantic convoys during the Second World War has died at the age of 93.

During an action-packed life Norman Albone stood shoulder to shoulder with Winston Churchill, met King George VI, battled Spanish flu, negotiated icebergs in treacherous U-boat infested waters, fought fearless Japanese soldiers and taught in a school in Kenya.

The pensioner, who also spent time teaching locally at Ratton, was born in St Neotts in Cambridgeshire and featured in the Herald’s Eastbourne Heroes series of articles in November last year.

He lifted the lid on his remarkable life in the Navy and recalled the daily perils of working in the unforgiving waters of the Atlantic, revealing, “The sea was so cold that if you touched any metal on the deck your hands would freeze and the skin would be ripped off trying to remove them.”

He added, “Sometimes we would sail through the Arctic-like frozen icebergs under constant attack from above and below.”

His war stories were recently turned into a book by author Alex Askaroff, with Norman: A Journey through Time still available in Waterstones and online at Amazon.

However, as Mr Albone’s son Christopher was quick to point out, there was a lot more to his dad than his service record.

“He was a terrific bloke,” he said. “For years and years he volunteered with Eastbourne Samaritans, often doing the night shift, and he was there well into his eighties.

“He was very active and was one of the founder members of the Saffrons Squash Club in Eastbourne as well as a keen golfer who still managed nine holes despite his advancing years. It was very hard for him when he developed Parkinson’s because he had always been so active.”

The last few years may have proved difficult for Mr Albone, who also lost his wife of nearly 50 years in 2002, but he took great comfort in his family – enjoying spending time with his two sons Christopher and Jerry and his two granddaughters.

One favourite memory of Christopher’s was the time when he, Jerry and their dad walked the length of the South Downs Way.

“By the time we got to the end,” remembered Christopher, “my brother and I were more tired than he was. It really was a special memory, the three of us together.”

Mr Albone’s remarkable life, which took in time rounding up Japanese soldiers after the war and teaching in Africa before the break up of the Empire, was full of such memories.

And it is a life which will be celebrated at his funeral on Monday (November 26) at St Mary’s Church in Willingdon.

All are welcome, although family flowers only. Donations can be made to Parkinson’s UK via Adela funereal services on 01323 643999.