Bermuda's losses in the Second World War

November the eleventh marks the end of the First World War on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, a conflict in which 90 Bermudians lost their lives while on duty here or overseas. In the Second World War (1939-1945), thirty-five Bermudians perished while in service overseas, and as 11th November 2010, "Remembrance Day", approaches, it seemed appropriate to give a summary of those who gave their lives during that war.

During the Second World War, Bermudians served in various forces around the world, as well as performing important duties here at home. The Bermuda Militia Artillery manned the only coastal defence guns left on the Island, located at St. David's Battery; later two more guns were added at Warwick Camp.

The BMA worked in concert with the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers, and some from the BMA joined the Bermuda Contingent of the 1st Caribbean Regiment. They saw service in Italy and Egypt and in the former country, William C. Baxter died in September 1944 and was buried at Pompeii, adding Bermuda heritage to that ancient Roman city. Baxter was a volunteer of the Bermuda Militia Infantry, one of the other local forces.

  • Daisy Louise Vallis: Died May 5, 1946.

    Daisy Louise Vallis: Died May 5, 1946.

  • Winston C. Baxter: Died September 4, 1944.

    Winston C. Baxter: Died September 4, 1944.

  • Alfred David Drew: Date of death not known.

    Alfred David Drew: Date of death not known.

  • Elgar Frederick Harris: Lost November, 1942.

    Elgar Frederick Harris: Lost November, 1942.

  • James Standley Whitecross: Died in 1943.

    James Standley Whitecross: Died in 1943.


November the eleventh marks the end of the First World War on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, a conflict in which 90 Bermudians lost their lives while on duty here or overseas. In the Second World War (1939-1945), thirty-five Bermudians perished while in service overseas, and as 11th November 2010, "Remembrance Day", approaches, it seemed appropriate to give a summary of those who gave their lives during that war.

During the Second World War, Bermudians served in various forces around the world, as well as performing important duties here at home. The Bermuda Militia Artillery manned the only coastal defence guns left on the Island, located at St. David's Battery; later two more guns were added at Warwick Camp.

The BMA worked in concert with the Bermuda Volunteer Engineers, and some from the BMA joined the Bermuda Contingent of the 1st Caribbean Regiment. They saw service in Italy and Egypt and in the former country, William C. Baxter died in September 1944 and was buried at Pompeii, adding Bermuda heritage to that ancient Roman city. Baxter was a volunteer of the Bermuda Militia Infantry, one of the other local forces.

Others Bermudians took to the air and flew for the US Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force in several theatres. One of these was Herman Francis Grant Ede, the first Bermudian to be lost in the war: he was serving in Norway on the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious, which was sunk in June 1940 by the German battleships, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

Another was Edward Brennan, stepbrother in the Vallis family. He died over Germany in June 1945, having joined the RAF and later transferred to the American service, being awarded the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Medal and posthumously, a Purple Heart. James Hugh Arnold Linton was lost in April 1941 in Egypt, as was Walter Hewson Perinchief at El Alamein the following December. William Cardy Hollis Hallett was stationed in Malta, where he flew Hurricanes, but was killed in March 1942. Also in 1942, Noel Lumley Meyer was invalided out of the RAF, but was lost to a torpedo attack on the way home to Bermuda.

Other flyers included John Edward Darrell Carlyle Brewer of the 215 Squadron RAF, lost at Singapore in May 1942. In early 1943, Geoffrey Welch was lost over Benghazi in Libya during the North African campaign. James Outerbridge of the RAAF was killed in May 1943, while attempting to escape as a prisoner of war in Italy. Alfred John Thomas was lost in a bombing raid over Germany in July 1943. James Standley Whitecross joined the RAF in November 1940 and was lost over Germany in October 1943. Frank Scott died in England in March 1945 and another late victim of the war lost his life in an accident in May 1945: Frederick Gerald Daniel Hughes had been in the Army Air Corps.

Harold Edwin Hutchings was serving with the RCAF when he was killed while on station in Reykjavik, Iceland. Related to the air forces, parachutist Elgar Frederick Harris, a Somerset man of the Perinchief family, was lost in Tunisia in November 1942, along with all the members of his stick: after jumping from their plane, they were never seen again.

A number of men of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps went for duty with the Lincolnshire Regiment and one of the first contingent was Stanley Arthur Shelton, who died in February 1941. A later contingent crossed the English Channel to join the late 1944 push from France into Germany. In late August, the first to be lost was Allison William Bluck Fowle, buried at Calvados, France; his death was followed by that of Warren James Harris in The Netherlands in early October.

At Overloon in Holland, October 14 was a day of great loss to Bermuda as four men were lost to enemy fire: John DeSilva, Richard Martin White, Anthony Frith Smith and Willard Patterson. On November 12, 1944, Jay Cicott Stephenson was wounded by the enemy and sought shelter in a barn in Holland, which the Germans burnt down: his tags and a picture of his girlfriend identified him.

Edward Eugene Hennessay and Francis Walter Monkman lost their lives at Winnekendonk in March 1945. Harry Reginald Frost was killed in late April 1945 in Germany, where he was buried at Niedersachsen, on the old borderlands of the Roman Empire, far from the sunny skies of his native Bermuda. Another distant plot of ground that is forever Bermudian marks the 1942 burial in Timor of George Wendell West, a member of the Shelly Bay family of that name. A month before the war ended, Granville Burton Williams, winner of a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was killed while serving with the United States Army, the only Bermudian to die while serving in that allied force.

Some Bermudians joined the Royal Navy and were lost in that service. Cecil John Greenway Wright was on the HMS Dunedin, which was torpedoed and sunk in November 1941; he had also served in the First World War in the Canadian Field Artillery and thus was one of the oldest men from Bermuda to be killed in action. Frank Charles Corbett served on HMS Dipper and was lost at the age of 47 some months after the war ended.

Several Bermudians were killed while on duty in the Merchant Navy, including Howard Sinclair Burgess, torpedoed bringing iron ore from Senegal to Britain in April 1941. Douglas William Howard Hutchings also gave his life to a torpedo attack in January 1941. Alfred David Drewsbury Drew volunteered from St. George's for convoy service and made the transatlantic voyage, possibly in 1943, apparently being lost to a bombing raid while his ship was at anchor at Milford Haven: his exact date of death is at present not known.

The final casualty of the war was killed on her way to be demobbed. Daisy Louise Vallis was a Leading Aircraftwoman of the Royal Canadian Air Force (Women's Division) and was one of the 29 Bermudian women who served overseas in the Second World War.

To these 35 victims we owe much for the freedoms we enjoy six decades later.

Edward Cecil Harris, MBE, JP, PHD, FSA is Executive Director of the National Museum of Bermuda, incorporating the Bermuda Maritime Museum. Comments may be made to director@bmm.bm or 704-5480.

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