Norman Rhead Potts was born in the autumn of 1891 at Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, to James Potts and Julia Ann Pennington née Rhead, both of whom had been previously widowed. They had three children, William James, Laura Rhead, and Norman Rhead, while John Potts, and Jane, Elizabeth and Agnes Pennington were their half siblings. James and Julia Potts ran a successful grocery business (with an off-licence by 1911), keeping a domestic servant. In 1911 Norman Potts was assisting his father in the business.
He then went to St Chad’s Hostel, Sandford Hill, Longton, (a different institution to that at Hooton Pagnell), and matriculated in the Epiphany term of 1913 as an Arts student at Hatfield Hall, University of Durham. He studied the arithmetic, Euclid and English history, completed six terms’ attendance and finally satisfied the examiners in 1914, passing in the first division, to gain his B.A. He left no trace in the sporting, musical or debating records of the time. He was at Lichfield College preparing for ordination to holy orders when war broke out, and he quickly joined the army.
On 8 July 1915 as one of a group of former O.T.C. cadets he was commissioned as temporary second lieutenant, and transferred to a service battalion. On 1 September 1916 he was appointed temporary lieutenant while employed as bombing officer in the Training Reserve. On 19 March 1917 he was attached as an acting second lieutenant to the 9th (Pioneer) Service Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. At Dickebusch in West Flanders this unit was attacked on 18 July 1917 with mustard gas for the first time. The battalion’s war diary (WO 95/2178/2) records that on the night of 19 July a direct shell hit killed Potts alongside two other officers, wounding a fourth officer and ten other ranks.
Norman Potts is buried in the Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension in West Flanders and commemorated on the war memorial in Fenton Town Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, an unique war memorial the future of which is in some doubt a the time of writing. Potts is also commemorated on the Hatfield College war memorial and the Durham University roll of honour.