Flight Sergeant Henry Craighton "Harry Craig" Beebe R/96932 Rear Gunner
97 Squadron RCAF
Born 9 Apr 1912 in New Carlisle, Bonaventure, Quebec, Canada
Son of George Milne Beebe and Adelaide Jane (Caldwell) Beebe
Brother of Charles Parnell Be
ebe, James Caldwell Beebe, Lois Grace (Beebe) Gilker, Harvey Craighton Beebe, Thomas Raymond Beebe and Margaret Matheson Beebe
Died 18 Jan 1943 in Waddenzee or Wadden Sea, just off the Dutch Coast
Flight Sgt Henry Beebe served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II
Service started: Jun 1940
Unit(s): 97 Squadron
Service ended: 18 Jan 1943
Flight Sgt Henry Beebe was Killed in Action in a bombing raid on Berlin during World War II.
Henry was born in 1912. He was the son of George Beebe and Adelaide Caldwell. He passed away Monday January 18, 1943
Fl/Sgt. Beebe had seen previous Military Service as a member of ‘D’ Company. Les Fusiliers du St. Laurent and had achieved the rank of Sergeant.
This was a Territorial or Militia Unit with which he served from 1928 to 1935. In June of 1940 Harry Beebe enlisted as a Gunner in the 94th Anti Tank Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery.
. It was this haste, and the fact that he wished to hide a severe stomach complaint, which compelled Harry to transfer to the RCAF in October of 1941.
Henry/Harry trained at 8 Bombing and Gunnery School at Lethbridge, Ontario, before coming to England in March 1942. A further course at 7 Air Gunnery School at Stormy Down in Wales was successfully completed with Harry achieving a mark of 84.74%
June 1942 saw Harry at 29 OTU at North Luffenham where he joined Sgt.’s Rowson, West, Bell and Brittain. There, Fl/Sgt Beebe and the others learned to fly as a crew in Wellington aircraft. Their move, in September, to a Conversion Flight of 97 Squadron heralded the arrival of the two extra crew members required to fly Avro Lancasters. This was Sgt. Lane and Sgt. Axup. On the 8th of November 1942, the crew joined 97 Squadron and commenced their tour of operations.
Their Lancaster I bomber, Serial: R5575, Coded: OF-L, took off 1703 from RAF station Woodhall Spa, Tattershall Thorpe, Lincolnshire, on January 17, 1943 after which nothing further was heard. After looking at the pattern of losses for the night it can be concluded that the aircraft must have crashed into the Waddenzee or Wadden Sea, just off the Dutch Coast, probably as a result of being attacked by a night-fighter. Whether this occurred on the way to or from the target will remain a mystery.
Sgt. Brittain’s body was recovered from the estuary of the River Rietdiep at Zoutcamp, 22km NW of Groningen. on the 9th of April. He was interred at Ulrum General Cemetery on the 10th of April.
The remaining 6 crew members have no known graves and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. This Operation was the ninth undertaken by this crew.
Of Flight Sergeant Henry Beebe and the rest of there was no further trace so far.
When checking the different archive records, I found the following in Bloemendaal archives:
Monday 9.10.1944 funeral off:
1 British Airman, washed up at 4.10.1944 at beachpole 59/60 , name unknown, R6963.
The number got my attention, as Henry number is R96932 could it be that instead of R9693 the Germans wrote down R6963? I have checked numbers of missing RCAF members but did not came across anyone with R6963.
It is ofcourse 22 months after the plane went down so one should think that the remains would be far gone, I was not able to find out more about this.
On the 5th October 1945, the remains were re-buried at Bergen op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, grave 8.F.7 where he still rest.
So was the number just coincidence that it looked a lot like that of Flight Sergeant Beebe, or is it indeed the unknown who is buried at Bergen op Zoom Canadian War Cemetery.
On Friday 9 April 1900 forty-three at about 16 hours, Hendrix Harm Melinga, former municipal constable in Ulrum, also unpaid Rijksveldwachter, belonging to the group mentioned above, was informed by some boys who were on the dike in Westpolder, municipality of Ulrum, that a corpse had washed ashore, which was in a far dilapidated state. I immediately informed the mayor of Ulrum of the above. I went there immediately, accompanied by the fore mentioned Mayor.
Having arrived at the designated place, I noticed that there was a man lying there, dressed in military uniform. The person was missing his lower legs and both hands up to the wrists. After collecting a coffin from Ulrum, I removed the body and took it to the mortuary in the cemetery in Ulrum.
The commander of the occupation in Zoutkamp was there and took the key to the morgue.
On Saturday 10 April 1943, at about 2.30 p.m., Lieutenant Weidt, Commander of Zoutkamp, appeared before me and informed me that the authorities of Leeuwarden were going to the cemetery in Ulrum and that I was requested to come there. The military doctor present there confiscated the papers that were on the corpse. From the papers it appeared, as well as from the identity plate that was present on the body, that the person was called: S.G. Brittain, No.1020217 O.D. R.A.F Bordschutze (Airgunner).
Op Zaterdag 10 April 1943 te omstreeks 15.00uur, is voormeld persoon met Militaire eer begraven. Aan het graf werd het woord gevoerd door den Dominee Van Nieuwkoop, gereformeerd predikant te Ulrum.
Een krans werd gelegd door den Duitschen Commandant Luitenant Weidt van Zoutkamp.
Tenslotte werd door mij verbalisant hieraan toegevoerd, dat de persoon onder zijn militaire uniform een blauwe gebreide trui droeg. Op de kist is volgens voorschrift het identiteit plaatje geplaatst.
Hiervan door mij voormalig gemeenteveldwachter Melinga, opgemaakt proces verbaal op den eed bij den anvang zijner bediening afgegelgd en overgegeven aan mijn groepscommandant ter verzending aan de Burgemeester van Ulrum.
Gesloten te Ulrum 20 April 1943
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
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