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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Fl. Lt. William Thomas Bassett, RFC/RAF d. 6 Dec 1954.


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In memory of my grandfather Fl Lt. William Thomas Bassett who died on 6 December 1954. He served in the RFC/RAF from 1916-1919. He began as a AM3 and was given a commission in the RFC as a Temporary Lieutenant. He completed his training and was promoted to full Lt. He arrived in France on 6 May 1918 and was assigned to 2 ASDP in Berck-sur-Mer. A week later he found himself in No. 24 General Hospital, Etaples with what was diagnosed as "influenza" (quite likely Spanish Flu). He stayed in hospital until the 23 May 1918. This meant that he was hospitalized at the time of the German air raid on the Etaples base and hospitals. He returned to 2ASDP and remained there (he was not assigned to a fighting unit - perhaps as a result of recovering from flu) until 30 June 1918 when he was wounded in an accident. Details are very unclear for him and for that particular time although he appears to have been flying a DH9 at the time. He was transported to No. 2 RXH in Rouen on 1 July 1918 and then to London Hospital where he was admitted on 4 July 1918.


He remained in hospital in London for some time and upon release was assigned to duties with the Air Ministry. He ended up as a wireless instructor at Flowerdown until he was demobbed in July 1919. He had trained as a wireless operator at the South Wales Wireless Training College and he had probably served as wireless operator as AM3 with the RFC before his commission. 


After the war he studied at Aberystwyth University and attained a degree and Teahing Certificate. He taught in a couple of schools in South Wales before he took up the post of Head Teacher at the brand new Rhiws Primary School in Rhoose, Glamorganshire.


In 1941, he enlisted in the RAFVR and, now a Fl. Lt. he became the first Commanding Officer of the 372 (Barry) ATC. He held that post until 1954 (the longest serving CO of 372 in its history) when he tragically died from a massive coronary. He was 56 years old.


He had come from the small coal mining village of Felinfoel in West Wales and had risen through the ranks, so to speak. He died six years before I was born. He had survived the 1918 flu, the bombing of Etaples and an air crash only to succumb to a heart attack.

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