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2nd Lieutenant Henry Berners Begg, 24 Sqn. RFC 23 November 1916


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I was looking for facts on the end of the Canadian role on the Somme in late November 1916 when I came across this particular page of the 4th Canadian Division War Diary, which reports on the observation of the aircraft losses as seen by the Canadians on the ground. There is some information here that could lead to the identification of the crash site of 2nd Lt. Henry Berners Begg, as he is the only one of the four (4) that that was KIA and is listed on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.




A check of Trevor Henshaw's text (page 62 - The Sky Their Battlefield II) suggests that the plane that the Canadians saw shot down around 10 am was an escort flight A2554 a DH2 of 24 Squadron piloted by 2nd Lt H. B. Begg. He is named on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, thus he may be a candidate for an UNKNOWN as now we know that he came down near Warlencourt Butte 57c.M.17.a.central, on the northeast fringe of Le Sars. It is listed as a possible "Vicker's claim" near Le Sars by Lt. D. Colin Ja2. That is most likely the plane the Canadians reported to have come down near 57c.M.12.c, which is about 500 yards away grid-to-grid. The logical place to look for his remains would be in the Warlencourt British Cemetery, but there are many others in the area. I have not prepared the GRRF and COG-BR binders for that cemetery, so I will do that now and see what appears. There are 1,823 unknowns in that cemetery! The CWGC historical reports notes:


Warlencourt, the Butte de Warlencourt and Eaucourt-L'Abbaye were the scene of very fierce fighting in 1916. Eaucourt was taken by the 47th (London) Division early in October. The Butte (a Roman mound of excavated chalk, about 17 metres high, once covered with pines) was attacked by that and other divisions, but it was not relinquished by the Germans until the following 26 February, when they withdrew to the Hindenburg Line. 




Three (3) additional planes were brought down in the early afternoon (2 pm), as reported here by the Canadians on the ground. They have them noted as coming down at M.12.c; M.27.d and R.23.d. It would be difficult to tell which-was-which, but they would have been:


  • 7683 FE2b 25 Squadron on Offensive Patrol. They must have made it out as it reports 2nd Lt. F. S. Moller, M.C. wounded in action and Sgt. C. Butler as okay.
  • N5182 Sopwith Pup of 8 Squadron Royal Naval AIr Service, piloted by Australian Pilot Flight Sub L-Lieutenant R. A. Little. He came down in the woods near Courcelette so that must be the second one listed above in R.23.d, but obviously survived as he went on to become the most successful Australian pilot of the war with 47 confirmed kills, this being his first.
  • N5190, also a Sopwith Pup of 8 Squadron piloted by Flight Lieutenant W. H. Lush-Hope, was shot down hear Moeuvres at 57c.E.20.a.central, to the southwest of Bourlon Wood. He was taken prisoner but died of wounds the following day. He is buried in 2.B.25 at Porte-de-Paris Cemetery, Cambrai. The claim was made by at Lt. F. Ray Ja1 at Haplincourt which is at 57c.O.3.c.central.


The German plane noted as crashing southeast of Loupart Wood would have been northeast of Pys on the way to Grevillers as the wood is at 57c.G.34.b central. The one that came down at M.14.a would have been around Dyke Road, just to the northwest of Le Sars.

Edited by laughton
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So far I have not found direct mention of a 2nd Lieutenant of the RFC at Warlencourt, but it was a good exercise and it may have found Lieutenant Eaves of the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) and Captain Clay of the Wiltshire Regiment. Both of those are now posted here at those links. Lt. Eaves may be a "Kipling Issue" as to whether it really was a Lieutenant but Clay looks clear.


There is a good candidate, marked as "UNKNOWN BRITISH OFFICER, 2nd Lieutenant" at 57c.M.17.b.5.4, which is not much closer to the reported area than one could imagine. He is in grave 7.C.29 at the Warlencourt British Cemetery. Did they call him an Unknown British Officer because he could not be identified by Regiment, as he had no regimental marks? My first-born for a picture of the cross that was on that grave!




RAF Casualty Card



Edited by laughton
added RAF casualty card
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