Denton Local History Society

Issue 39

Crown Pointers
Norah Naden Thorley : A Tribute
Flight Sargent Donald Kilner

Norah Naden Tornley : A Tribute

It was with much sadness that we heard of the death of Norah who passed away peacefully at home in Denton on September 18th 2001 aged 93 years. She is survived by son Mike, daughter Sue and grandchildren Anna, Lucy, Sally and fain. At the funeral service at Denton St. Lawrence, Mike, Sue and Lucy gave moving eulogies.

Norah was born in Ashton but lived most of her life in Denton. She was a dancer in her youth forming a touring duo with her sister Freda calling themselves the Pickford Sisters. She was also a member of the famous Tiller Girls. Norah was a member of the Denton Local History Society in her early days and has generously donated a number of historical artefacts to the Society archives including a Home Guard uniform belonging to her late husband and a last World War incendiary bomb.

Norah was married to the late Arnold Edward Thorley, a former Managing Director of Turner Atherton Co. Ltd., who were inventors and hatting engineers. Some of her husband's relatives lived in Haughton Green and Audenshaw although his immediate family, father and mother, lived at Northleigh on Manchester Road, Denton opposite the golf course The house was demolished to make way for the M60 slip road.

Marion Pilcher and Jill Cronin paid many visits to Norah's home taping her memories and views of her life in Denton. She also kindly allowed us to reproduce many of her photographs for inclusion in the Society's books, particularly of the Turner family homes and views of Audenshaw and Denton. Some of these views have been included in Jill's recent book on Audenshaw.

Norah was an enthusiastic gardener and also enjoyed knitting, especially for charity However, the love of her life was golf. She was born in 1908 (one year before Denton G C.was founded) and became active in the club's tennis section before becoming a full golfing member in 1935. Her husband, Arnold, also a keen golfer was the son of Edward Jackson Thorley a founder member of the club Together with Arnold she enjoyed a full social life and became a keen and competitive golfer.

Some of her golfing achievements included winning the prestigious Whittaker Bowl on a record six occasions, three of which were in consecutive years. She won the Lady Captain's Prize in 1960 and was a member of the D.G.C. Ladies Team who won the Lancashire Handicap Shield in 1973. At the age of 74, she won the Joe Askew Trophy and in 1989, together with her partner, won the Mixed Foursomes Shield at the age of 81. In 1966/67 she became Lady Captain, an honour which overlapped with the appointment of Arnold as President.

In 1985, she celebrated 50 years as a full playing member of the club and was awarded Honorary Membership. At the time of her death, she was the club's oldest serving member (66 years).

Nora will be very sadly missed by her devoted family and the great number of friends she made in her full and interesting life.

Jill Cronin
Alan Ward

Flight Sargent Donald Kilner

As in many small towns Denton lost its share of young men during the 1939-45 war. Their names can be found on the various memorials in the town and in the churches. Audenshaw Grammar School has its own Roll of Honour in the main hall and included among the names is that of Donald Kilner who used to live with his parents in Balmoral Drive, Denton. I also used to live in Balmoral Drive where I knew his parents and his brother Gilbert. I also went to Audenshaw and was playing in the school orchestra when the Roll of Honour was unveiled.

Since then I have wondered many times what happened to him and although I made a few discreet enquiries I did not find out anything until the Commonwealth War Graves Commission opened its web site. As many will know this gives details of all those who died in two world wars and I discovered that Donald was buried in a small village called Villars-le Pautel in the Haute Saone region of France. The CWGC site gives the information that he is buried with the rest the crew of the Lancaster bomber which was taking part in a raid over Germany on the night of 15/16thMarch 1944. His plane took off from Royal Air Force Station ,Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire and was part of a force of 863 aircraft which was briefed to attack Stuttgart.

The village where the crew are buried is situated in lovely countryside of the Haute Saone region and the graves are beautifully kept by the local commune who see it as their duty to pay hommage to the allied aviators who died for France. Perhaps one the purposes of this short article is to remind us of those who did not return. There are other names on the Roll of Honour at Audenshaw and if anybody has done any research I should be pleased to hear about it.

Harry Chamberlain
Source of Information Commonwealth War Graves Commission.