31.08.1944 No. 433 Squadron Halifax III MZ879 BM-O F/O. James R. Beveridge
Operation: Ile de Cezembre
Date: 31st August 1944
Unit: No. 433 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Serial: MZ879 ('If Any')
Base: RAF Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire
Location: Off Ile de Cézembre in English Channel.
Pilot: F/O. James Ralph Beveridge J/26756 RCAF Age 26. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles William Garrett 1896238 RAFVR Age 36. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Frederic Cuthbert Harman J/89312 RCAF Age 31. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Lt. Wendell Lyall Long T/89159 RCAF Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Lorne Stanley Guernsey J/86188 RCAF Age 25. Killed (1)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. George William Pharis J/95167 RCAF Age 29. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Reid Hawkins J/95166 RCAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from Skipton-on-Swale at 10.36hrs. for an operation to bomb a coastal battery on Ile de Cézembre, near St Malo. The defence of the island was made up from 6 captured French 194mm guns, a 150 mm, plus an Italian 75 mm battery and light flak unit. 165 Halifaxes and 5 pathfinder Mosquitoes took part in the bombing made from less than 3,000 ft.
P/O. Lorne Stanley Guernsey and newspaper reports
The crew and their Halifax were lost without a trace and all are remembered on the Memorial at Runnymede.
The Canadian crew members are also remembered on the Memorial at the Lancaster Museum, Nanton, Alberta. Sergeant Garrett was aged 36, well over the age associated with airmen serving in Bomber Command.
The purpose of the operation was to persuade the German Commander of the island to surrender prior to a planned invasion by the Americans. The island had been continually bombed and the use of napalm had a huge impact on the mainly Italian defenders. On the 2nd September the island surrendered with 320 men, 12 German nurses and 2 Italian officers taken pow by the Americans.
A copy of the letter to P/O. Guernsey's mother from Wing Commander A.J. Lewington, Officer commanding 433 Squadron says in part:-
“ Lorne and his crew took off from here, for the purpose of carrying out a bombing sortie over enemy territory, on the morning of the 31st August 1944 at approximately 10.35 a.m. This crew failed to return from this raid and nothing has been heard of them to this date”.
Target: Ile de Cézembre
The investigation into the loss of their aircraft determined that the crew was lost at sea off the Eastern tip of the Island of Cézemere. This was confirmed by other crews who saw the Halifax go into a stall and drop into the sea. The last entry in P/O. Guernsey’s flying log book is noted as August 31st, St.Malo and “missing”
F/O. James Ralph Beveridge. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 245. Son of John Ferdinand and Catharine Beveridge of London, Ontario, Canada. Born 17 April 1918 in Rhos on Sea, North Wales. Emigrated to Canada with his parents John Ferdinand and Catherine (née Casker) Beveridge in July 1919.
Sgt. Charles William Garrett. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 229. Son of Andrew and Louise Garrett, husband of Kathleen D. Garrett of West Dulwich, London, England.
Fl/Sgt. Frederic Cuthbert Harman. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Further information: Son of Harold Frederic Harman and stepson of Marion Harman of Victoria, British Columbia. An employee of the Bank of Nova Scotia he is remembered on the Bank of Nova Scotia, WWII Honour roll list.
Fl/Lt. Wendell Lyall Long. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 251. Adopted son of Jack and Irene Long of Chemainus, British Columbia, Canada.
P/O. Lorne Stanley Guernsey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Further information: Son of Stanley M. and Rose H. Guernsey of Kenora, Ontario, Canada. Known as “Stan” was born on January the 2nd 1919 in Kenora, Ontario, the only child of Rose (Outen) and Stanley Guernsey. Stan grew up in Kenora and following high school worked at a number of jobs, including apprentice mechanic and truck driver. Prior to enlisting in the RCAF in October 1941, Stan had been an aircraft inspector at Canada Car and Foundry in Fort William, Ontario for about eight months. Trained through 1942 as a Wireless Operator at No 3 Wireless School in Winnipeg, Manitoba and as an Air Gunner at No 2 Bombing and Gunnery School, RCAF Mossbank, Saskatchewan.
(1) Guernsey Lake in the District of Kenora, northern Ontario is named after P/O. Guernsey
From November 1942 until March 1943, attended No. 32 OTU, Patricia Bay, British Columbia. By June 1943 and into 1944 Stan had arrived in the UK at a number of training locations including Turnberry, Leuchars and Long Marston. On May 12th, received his commission and following a ten day period in June 1944 at No. 1666 Conversion Unit he began flying with 433 Squadron at Skipton on Swale, joining the crew piloted by F/O. Beveridge till the crew’s last mission on August 31st 1944.
Sgt. George William Pharis. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 252. Further information: Son of Leslie E. and Mary B Pharis of Magrath, Alberta, Canada. A brother, F/O. Hampton Blaine Pharis J/11651 RCAF lost his life on 13th November 1943 with 423 Squadron. On a Sunderland III DD863 3-J on a convoy escort duty when it was lost without trace. Last known position was plotted as 16 miles north of Mayo, Ireland.
Sgt. James Reid Hawkins. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 250. Son of James Reid and Josephine (nee McDermott) Hawkins of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. James Reid Hawkins senior who was born in Cardiff, South Wales was a Stationary Engineer who, tragically for his son and wife Josephine, died at the comparatively young age of 55 in 1937.
Researched by Aircrew Remembered volunteer, researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew. Photo credits to the family of Lorne Guernsey and Debi and Kim Smith.