B.E.M. For Trying to save Doomed Pilot?

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by ww2ni, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    Aircraftman First Class, I. Thomas McCann was serving with 40 Squadron R.A.F in Malta and was Killed in Action on 24th November 1941.

    He is now buried in Capuccini Naval Cemetery and his headstone shows that he was awarded the B.E.M.

    On speaking with a Relative I have been told that his aircraft was shot down and he had survived but on seeing that the Pilot was trapped he went back to try and rescue him however the aircraft exploded killing them both.

    I am keen to learn more about this but have no other details.

    Is there somewhere I could perhaps learn the Aircraft Number or why he received the B.E.M?

    Any help would be very much appreciated.

  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I. Thomas MCCANN | MilitaryImages.Net

    London Gazette dated 21 January 1941 (BEM Citation)
    567944 Corporal Joseph Graham Michael JAVIS and 619213 Aircraftman 1st Class Thomas McCANN. During September, 1940, these airmen approached a burning aircraft and succeeded in detaching Vickers guns and magazines of ammunition and removing them to a place of safety. Both displayed conspicuous gallantry in disregarding imminent personal danger from exploding ammunition and the likelihood that the petrol tanks might explode.


    40 Squadron | Malta: War Diary | Page 4
    Military casualties Flight Sergeant Harold Batchelor, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 69 Squadron; AC1 Thomas McCann, BEM, Royal Air Force, Sergeant David McKell, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant John Hutt, RAFVR, 69 Squadron.

    Perhaps finding the Squadron ORB will tell you what you want to know
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 24 January 1941

    Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 24 January 1941.png
    ypres5, ozzy16, Deacs and 3 others like this.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    and on Lisburn War Memorial | WW2Talk


    Aircraftman 1st Class MCCANN, I. THOMAS
    Service Number 619213
    Died 24/11/1941
    Aged 23
    40 Sqdn., Royal Air Force
    B E M
    Son of Thomas and Anna McCann, of Lisburn, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.
    Location: Malta
    Number of casualties: 1089
    Cemetery/memorial reference: R.C. Sec. (Men's). Plot P. Grave 8.
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  7. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    40 Squadron | Malta: War Diary | Page 4
    Military casualties Flight Sergeant Harold Batchelor, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), 69 Squadron; AC1 Thomas McCann, BEM, Royal Air Force, Sergeant David McKell, Royal Australian Air Force; Sergeant John Hutt, RAFVR, 69 Squadron.


    I am showing that Sergeant David Alcorn McKELL RAAF 400061 / Sergeant John Keogh HUTT RAF 967922 / Flight Sergeant Harold Bernard BATCHELOR RAF 759009 were Presumed lost at Sea off Malta following the loss of Maryland BJ427 of 103 Maintenance Unit Middle East / Mediterranean Command Middle East Squadron RAF on 24/11/1941

    No mention of AC1 McCann

    Attached Files:

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  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I think thats just a list of casualties for that day i.e 24th Nov 1941 - from possibly 3 seperate incidents

  9. ww2ni

    ww2ni Senior Member

    This is excellent.

    Much appreciated.

  10. Jim Conway

    Jim Conway New Member

    Hi Andy

    My mother was Mary McCann, Tom’s Brother.

    I have his medals, and the story I was told was that he was killed a couple of weeks later, but I was never told the circumstances...

    I have newspaper cuttings from the Lisburn local paper and a photograph of my mother and grandmother collecting the medal on his behalf from Buckingham Palace as he had passed.

    Apparently he was a keen footballer and it was rare for someone of his rank to be awarded the medal.

    If you want to drop me an e-mail at j (at) mesconway.co.uk I can give you more info...

    Curious as to why you are interested...

    Kindest Regards

    Jim Conway
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2019
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Jim

    Its what this forum is about - answering the unanswerable questions

    By the way this is a public forum site and if you can edit your post above I would suggest changing '@' for AT as there are bots etc that search sites like this for email address's to use for adverts or spam

  12. dp_burke

    dp_burke Junior Member

  13. dp_burke

    dp_burke Junior Member

    The rafcommands website and forum have an excellent set of databases built up over the past year correlating CWGC, AiR81 and forum posts, removes the mystery of lots of deaths.

    RAF CWGC War Dead Query

    That link above links the various files and points at AIR81/7834 file in TNA which family ought to order a copy of.

    Appears he was associated with Wellington IC X9662
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  14. dp_burke

    dp_burke Junior Member

    And he was previously discussed on another thread on this very forum. As with any forum like this, always worth searching in the forum archives

    Lisburn War Memorial, Co Antrim

    Though this was linked above, it may not have been clear to new members that it had details.
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  15. dp_burke

    dp_burke Junior Member

    One thing to note is that Thomas McCann appears to have been a ground crew member and not aircrew, so he wasn't a gunner etc.

    And he was determined to have 'Died on active Service', not "Killed in action" per the Casualty Communiques issued by the Air Ministry
    sgt | active service | action | 1942 | 0103 | Flight Archive
    See top of the middle column of that page for listing.

    Killed in action was usually for aircrew on raids, sorties etc.
    Killed on active service was the next status, for those on non combat flights, like training, transport, ferry etc
    Died on active service covers all manner of accidents, both on and off duty, including natural cases, traffic accidents and these cases, like Thomas, which are certainly "on duty."

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