Service Number: NZC437340
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 14th of May 1943
Rank Achieved: Flight Sergeant
Flying Hours: 594 hours, 15 mins in RNZAF, 603 hours, 30 mins total
Date of Birth: 22nd of January 1925 at Rotorua
Personal Details: Norman was the son of Joseph and Sarah Jane (Jennie) Rosser. He was the brother of Edna Oates, Myrtle Vinall and Gordon Rosser. Norman was educated at Rotorua District High and Grammar School
Aged 16 years he moved from Rotorua to live with his sister Myrtle and her husband George Vinall, who owned a country general store at the corner of Shakespeare Street and Raleigh Street in Leamington, Cambridge and in December 1941 enrolled with the Air Training Corps, No. 7 Squadron, in Hamilton until May 1943.
Norman was working at the mercery and drapery store Sayers and Ward in Victoria Street, Cambridge when he enlisted in the RNZAF in December 1943. He served 3 tours of duty with 24(F) Squadron in the Pacific flying Corsairs at Espiritu Santos, Green Island and Bougainville until peace was declared.
After the war Norman married Hilda Gleeson and they settled in Cambridge and for a time Norm worked for the Milne and Choyce department store in Hamilton. They moved to Sydney, Australia, where he worked at David Jones Department Store whilst gaining his commercial pilot's licence and was to join Qantas when, for family reasons, they returned to New Zealand. With a partner he formed a business, Hyde & Rosser, importing fine linens and household goods with branches in Hamilton and Tauranga. He was President of the Waikato Businessmen's Association in 1960's. Norm was an active member of the Cambridge Chess Club and coached youth in marching and athletics. From 1963- 1966 he was President of the Christiania Ski Club at Mt Ruapehu and a ski patrol leader.
Hilda and Norman divorced in 1969 and Norman moved to Auckland where he met and later married Kathy Nightingale. He was Vice President of the Commerce Club and Chairman of its Wine Club for over 10 years until his health declined.
Service Details: Norman had previously served as a member of No. 7 (City of Hamilton) Squadron, Air Training Corps, before enlisting for RNZAF service. His first Air Force posting on entry to the service was to the Ground Training Depot (G.T.D.) at RNZAF Station Omaka, Blenheim. He joined as an Aircrafthand (ATC), starting his RNZAF career on the 15th of May 1943.
On the 2nd of July 1943 he moved a few miles west down the road to the G.T.D. at "C" Block, RNZAF Delta. His stay there was short and on the 18th of July he headed down to RNZAF Station Taieri, in Otago. Norman's posting at Taieri was to the EGTS, or Elementary Ground training School. He had two months at this southern station before moving back to the Delta in Marlborough, this time to "D" Block, on the 18th of September 1943, joining the Advanced Ground Training School.
On the 15th of October 1943 Norman's real aircrew training began when he was posted to the Initial Training Wing at Rotorua. As well as drill, physical training and learning about service life, he would have been training in the theories of navigation, weather and other necessary knowledge to become aircrew. Such subjects may also have been taught when he was previously in the holding pattern at Omaka, the Delta and Taieri, but this ITW course would have stepped things up a notch.
Come the summer, on the 11th of December 1943, Norman was posted back down to Taieri. This time however he was posted to No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School. He had passed his ITW course and had been selected for pilot training. At Taieri he would get his first chance to fly an RNZAF aircraft. The school was equipped with the ultimate pilot trainers of the time, de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moths.
Norman's elementary flying training went well, he soloed in the Tiger Moth, and by the 11th of February 1944 he was posted back to Marlborough - this time to RNZAF Station Woodbourne - to continue flying training on the North American Harvards of the Initial Training Squadron, No. 2 Service Flying Training School.
On the 19th of April 1944 Norman progressed to the Advanced Training Squadron of the same school, which meant now instead of simply learning to fly, he'd be learning to fight in the air. The ATS saw the pupils learning squadron formation practice, air-to-air and air-to-ground gunnery, bombing practice and various other fighting tactics, again in the Harvards.
With the completion of his No. 2 SFTS course, Norman was awarded his flying brevet, and was posted to the NCO School at RNZAF Station Levin on the 1st of July 1944. There he learned the duties expected of his new rank, which was Sergeant.
Completing the NCO course, Sgt Rosser was now ready to begin flying fighter aircraft. He was posted to No. 4 Operational Training Unit at RNZAF Station Ohakea, on the 2nd of August 1944, where he would convert to the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk fighter. More training ensued there in learning the skils of flying this more powerful type than he'd previously experienced, followed by more tactics, gunnery, bombing and other skills needed for a combat pilot.
After five weeks on the P-40, Norman had a 12-day spell of leave. When his leave was complete he was ready to progress to the Corsair Conversion Flight at RNZAF Station Ardmore, on the 19th of September 1944. Here he would begin to fly the RNZAF's latest fighter-bomber, the Chance Vought F-4U-1D Corsair.
It was actually at that point during Norman's leave before joining the Corsair Conversion Unit that he began keeping a diary. Norman's widow Kathy has given permission for extracts from the diary to appear here, so it is coming soon.