Living Memorial | Norma Best
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Norma Best

About This Project

Norma Best was born in British Honduras, now known as Belize. In June 1944, Best joined the war effort as a volunteer for the Auxiliary Territorial Service. As a young lady, she wanted to travel and therefore viewed helping out in the war as the perfect opportunity to do so. This led to her decision to join the armed forces. Her father also encouraged her to go as he served in the First World War in Egypt. Norma was the second group of six women that were recruited in British Honduras. On her journey to Britain, she first stopped at Jamaica, where she had some initial training. She then continued her journey and stopped in New Orleans, followed by New York. Although aware of the racial tensions in America at the time, she said she was treated well whilst staying at the hotel there. Finally, Norma took off from New York to Britain, where she arrived in Scotland in August 1944.


Upon her arrival, she took a train to London, where she done some sightseeing before travelling to Guilford for a further six weeks of training. ‘The training was tough, but we did it’, she explains. While serving in the war, Norma said she was treated well by the team she worked with. “I think the spirit of the war is that we were all fighting to win. Colour didn’t come into it,” she is quoted as saying in Steven Bourne’s The Motherland Calls.


When asked about her experiences in the war, she said: “Serving in the armed forces was wonderful. It was the best experience I’ve ever had”. After the war, Best studied to become a primary school teacher at Durham University and after marrying and having children, she worked as a teacher from 1961 to 1988, ending her career as a head teacher at Brent, London.