VEIRA – Basil Vernon Lancelot

[Images courtesy Carl Ryan; click on images to enlarge]

VEIRA, F/O Basil Vernon Lancelot (J10677) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.12 Squadron – KIA 28 april 1943.

Award effective 27 April 1943 as per London Gazette dated 20 June 1944 and AFRO 1660/44 dated 4 August 1944.  Born 4 April 1914 in Basseterre, St.Kitts, British West Indies; home in Montreal; enlisted there 25 June 1941.
Attended No.3 Initial Training School (graduated 6th in a class of 18 observer candidates, 13 September 1941), No.9 Air Observer School (graduated 7th in a class of 22, air and ground subjects, 3 January 1942), No.6 Bombing and Gunnery School (graduated 9th in a class of 27 on 14 February 1942, received Air Observer Badge that date), and No.2 Air Navigation School (graduated 16 March 1942 in a class of 89, having stood 3rd in ground subjects and first in air subjects).  Further trained at No.31 General Reconnaissance School, Charlottetown, 10 April to 14 June 1942 (graduated 14th in a class of 26; his performance described as “disappointing”).
Embarked for overseas, 16 June 1942; taken on strength of No.3 Personnel Reception Centre, Britain, 25 June 1942.  Posted to No.20 Operational Training Unit, 13 July 1942; posted to No.12 Squadron, 21 October 1942.
Ranks: Aircraftman, Second Class on enlistment, 25 June 1941; promoted to Leading Aircraftman, 28 September 1941; promoted to Sergeant, 14 February 1942; commissioned as Pilot Officer, 16 March 1942; promoted to Flying Officer, 1 October 1942.

[Images courtesy Carl Ryan; click on images to enlarge]

Killed in action 28/29 April 1943 on Lancaster GB408.  Particulars of Death Aircraft was shot down by a German night fighter, 29 April 1943 in vicinity of Leba (near Lauenburg, Germany).  Body washed ashore and buried in Leba.  Lancaster ED408; Crew were 1315743 Sergeant G. Elsworthy (pilot), J10677 F/O B.V.L. Veira (navigator), 1311073 FS W.E. Freeman (WAG), 143857 P/O J.J.L. Haddow (bomb aimer), 621910 Sergeant E.A. Pye (flight engineer), 989136 Sergeant C.W.S. Downes (mid-upper gunner) and 930059 Sergeant R.C. Grant (rear gunner).  No.12 Squadron.
Aircraft carrying four 1,500 pound sea mines when it took off.  On 12 December 1944 his widow attended an investiture at Government House, Ottawa, to receive her husband’s Distinguished Flying Cross.  The Department of National Defence provided her with a rail ticket and $ 10.00 expenses.  It is interesting to note that this investiture was attended by 28 other next-of-kin receiving awards on behalf of deceased family; the list of those attending includes not only Mrs. B.V.L. Veira but also Mrs. D.E. Hornell (picking up her husband’s posthumous Victoria Cross).  This information is not on his personal file but is found in RCAF file 305-4-3 “Honours and Awards – Fifth Investiture at Government House”, National Archives of Canada, RG.24 E.1, Volume 3350.Award presented to next of kin, 12 December 1944.

“This officer has participated in numerous operational sorties which have included missions to Hamburg, Berlin, the Ruhr, Stettin and Spezia. His navigation has always been of a very high standard and he has a fine record of achievement.  His determination and confidence while on operations has always been an inspiration to the squadron while his gallantry and devotion to duty has done much to create a high morale among his fellow navigators.”
[Source: Air Force Association of Canada; courtesy Jerome Lee]

Below: copies from Basil Veira’s log book

Below: Yearly reunion at what was RAF Base Wickenby where #12 Squadron was stationed.

[Images courtesy Carl Ryan; click on images to enlarge]

De LISLE – Sydney Sapenne

Sergeant – KIA – Milan War Cementery, Italy

[Source: CG]

Service number: 1213386

[Courtesy: AD]

VANIER – Eugene Dunlop

Flying  Officer – KIA – Alamein Memorial, Egypt

[Source: CG]

Service number: J/6001 (RCAF)

[Courtesy AD]

Had gone to Montreal to study at McGill University in Science in 1939  – he is listed in the university’s Honour Roll.  He later enlisted.

[Source: Wayne Saunders, Quebec, Canada]



This is a quick sketch of the background and air force career of P/O E.D. Vanier, one of the number of individuals from the Caribbean who entered the RCAF during the Second World War.  This presentation is largely to show his various movements from the time he left the Caribbean in 1939 until he died in action in 1942.  Moreover, it attempts to focus largely on statements about his positive character, one that likely would have served him well if not for the unfortunate circumstances of a short operational career.

Born:  14 February 1916, Charlestown, Nevis, British West Indies
Died:  1 September 1942, missing over Mediterranean Sea on air operations from Egypt; commemorated on El Alamein Memorial

Educated at Antigua Grammar School 1927 to 1933. A reference letter from the Headmaster of the School, W.M.R. Voubery, Priest, MSc., dated 12 May 1934, states about Vanier “He is an intelligent, industrious and thoughtful worker.  He won a Government Scholarship … He made a successful prefect, and was head prefect his last term … He has an excellent character.  I have always found him honest, truthful, clean, straight, loyal and trustworthy.  He has a pleasant personality …

Employed in Antigua Post Office, assistant clerk – 1934-1935

Employed by Geo. W. Bennet Bryson & Co., Ltd, Antigua – 1935 to August 1939 (left to attend McGill University). A reference letter to the RCAF from the Managing Director of the firm, which were agents for Canadian National Steamships, states about Vanier “employed by this firm in the accountancy department for the last four years.  During that period we have found him thoroughly reliable and honest, hard working, and … We can strongly recommned him in every way.”

At the same time was a Private in Antigua Defence Force, Antigua, 1935-1939. On leaving the force to go to McGill University the Commandant of the Leeward Island Police in a letter to Vanier wrote “On behalf of the Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the Antigua Defence Force, I beg to express our regret on your leaving us.  You have at all times been an energetic and useful members of the Force and we shall certainly miss you …”

Another reference letter from the Sergeant Major of Police for the Commisioner of Police, Leeward Islands Police, dated 1 Augst 1939 mentions native of Nevis and residing in Antigua for “the past eighteen years” and is of “irreproachable character.”

Sailed from Barbados on 29 August 1939 on Merissa (Furness-Bermuda West Indies line), landing New York City, New York, on 6 September 1939
Arrvied in Montreal, Quebec, to attend McGill University – Science Program

Enlisted as Cadet in McGill University Canadian Officers’ Training Corps (COTC) – 4 October 1939. In his duties there he trained in the Air Force section of the Special Wing and was rated an excellent Cadet.  The Officer Commanding this section stated Vanier “is highly recommended by his Company Officers” for a position in the RCAF

At the end of his first year at McGill University, worked as a salesman with the T. Eaton Co. until he enlisted in the RCAF

Completed an interrview for the RCAF Special Reserve – July 1940. Interviewing officer Pilot Officer C.S. Goudreau noted on interview form “Well recommeded … quick intellect, polite, very willing and ambitious.  Pleasant …” and suggested Vanier would likely make officer at end of his training.

Enlisted in RCAF, Montreal, Quebec – 14 August 1940
Posted to No. 2 Manning Depot, Brandon, Manitoba – 14 August 1940
Posted to No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – 23 October 1940
(This would have not been for his flying training but initial duties prior to him beginning his Initial Training Course in December)
Posted to No. 2 Initial Training School, Regina, Saskatchewan – 11 December 1940. Completed Course No. 20, 11 December 1940 to 11 January 1941; finished 17th overall in a class of 148 with comments by C.O. “Good background – very good type.”
Posted to No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School, Eburne (Sea Island, Vancouver) British Columbia – 14 January 1942. Completed Course No. 18, 19 January 1941 to 5 March 1941; for the Ground Training portion of the course scored 90% and finished 1st in a class of 32 with comments “Conduct excellent.  Outstanding in class work.  Works hard and is very keen.”  Flew Tiger Moth training aircraft and listed as average pilot at this stage.
At No. 4 Service Flying Training School, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – 18 March 1941 to 11 July 1941. Completed Course No. 23 4th overall and noted as “An above-average student, possessing a high degree of ability and industry.  Aptitude and attitude towards the service, excellent.  Showed a good attitude towards his duties.  Distinguished Pass”  Flew Cessna Crane twin-engined aircraft.
Received his commission as Pilot Officer and flying wings on 4 July 1941. Service Number originally R56301; when commissioned became J6001
Posted to General Reconnaissance School, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – 14 July 1941. Completed Course No. 10, 14 July 1941 to 4 October 1941; this course was focussed primarly in navigation exercies, flying in Anson twin-engined training aircraft
Reported to No. 1 Y Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia – 24 October 1941
Sailed for Overseas –  2 November 1941
Arrived at No. 3 Personnel Reception Center, UK – 14 November 1941
Posted to No. 2 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit, RAF Catfoss – 23 November 1941
Posted to No. 14 SFTS, RAF Lyneham – 23 December 1941. No. 14 Service Flying Training School at this time was based at RAF Lyneham.  The unit used Airspeed Oxfords for advanced training on twin-engined aircraft for pilots who had been selected to fly multi-engined aeroplanes
Posted into 201 Group – 4 May 1942; destination was No. 252 Squadron flying Beaufighters
Arrived in West Africa – 31 May 1942. In July 1942 ferried aircraft across North Africa to Idku, Egypt, arriving on 13 July; on arrival reported ill and diagnosed with malaria; hospitalized for convalescence
Arrived No. 252 Squadron – July 1942. Squadron flew coastal command operations flying Bristol Beaufighter out of Idku, Egypt, since November 1941
Killed in action on air operations while flying Bristol Beaufighter T4881 – 1 September 1942. Aircraft set out for straffing operations behind enemy lines and failed to return to base.  “Last seen 31 degrees 33 minutes north 25 degrees 33 minutes east at 1230 hours.”

[Wayne Saunders, 5 March 2012 – All quotes and related information from Vanier’s RCAF personnel record, courtesy Library and Archives Canada, RG 24 Volume 28859.]


Pushing up a cloud of dust, Bristol Beaufighter IF V8318 ‘F-Freddie’ of No 252 Squadron, Royal Air Force moves out at Magrun, North Africa. [This is photograph No. TR903 from the Imperial War Museums collections.]