Bessent, William Francis “Bill”

Regiment: 405 Pathfinder Squadron
Rank: Sergeant, Air Gunners
Force: R. C. A. F.

Bill Bessent was born on April 17, 1925 in Windsor ON. His parents were Herbert Bessent and Elsie May Roberts Bessent. He had a twin brother, Henry Roberts (“Bob”), who also served in the R.C.A.F. and was killed in action. In 1927 the family moved to Grande Prairie AB, where the twins eventually attended school and played in many kinds of sports. Bill and Bob joined the Air Force at age 17, first receiving training in Edmonton, then in Quebec for gunnery training. They sailed from Halifax to England, joining the 405 Pathfinder Squadron. Bill served on 30 missions until August 1944, and he received the Distinguished Flying Medal in November for “courage and calmness” while his aircraft was on fire over Berlin. He then became a trainer for other gunners in Yorkshire, England before he was posted to Nova Scotia as an instructor. After his discharge in September 1945, he returned to Grande Prairie and worked in Grande Prairie Hardwares. He married Lavina (“Vine”) Louise Allison in 1950, and they had 3 children: Bob, Bill, and Bonny. Bill was involved in sports clubs (hockey, golf, curling), and was president of the Grande Prairie Legion, Key Club, and a chartered member of the Grande Prairie Kinsmen. In 1953, Bill and his father opened their own store – Bessent and Son. In 2013 Bill received a new service ribbon from the Canadian government for his efforts in WW II.

Source: Grande Prairie Herald Tribune – September 23, 1987 – Obituary of Elsie May Bessent
Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune – October 9, 1990 – Obituary of Lavina Louise Allison Bessent
SPRA Family and Personal Life Reference Files – Newspaper articles, letters, photos etc.