Soldier Spotlight: Sergeant Air Gunner Henry Robert “Bob” Bessent

Image: Bessent twins, Bill and Bob, with parents in August 1943. (SPRA 2005.073.04)

Regiment: 405 Pathfinder Squadron
Regimental Number: R/198740
Rank: Sergeant Air Gunner
Force: Royal Canadian Air Force

Bob Bessent was born in Windsor, ON on April 17, 1925 to parents Herbert Bessent and Elsie May Roberts Bessent. He had a twin brother, Bill, who also served in the RCAF. In 1927 the family moved to Grande Prairie AB where the twins eventually started school and were involved in various sports. At age 17 Bob and his brother joined the Air Force, first training in Edmonton, then Manitoba, and then in Quebec for gunnery training. They joined the 405 Pathfinder Squadron in England in 1943. Bob was killed in action in the early morning of December 17, 1943 when his Lancaster bomber crashed because it encountered heavy fog and ran out of fuel looking for a place to land. His mother became the Silver Cross Mother that year. In July 1946 Bob was posthumously awarded Operational Wings from the RCAF “in recognition of gallant service in action against the enemy.” Bob is buried in the Cambridge City (England) Cemetery. Grave Ref: 14558A

Source: Legion Album
Commonwealth War Graves – website
Grande Prairie Herald Tribune – September 23, 1987 – Obituary of Elsie May Roberts Bessent
SPRA Family and Personal Life Reference Files – newspaper articles, photos

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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