The Airmen's Stories - P/O F B Bassett
Francis Bernard Bassett, of Wembley Park, Middlesex was born on 30th April 1920 and joined the RAF on a short service commission in February 1939. He was posted to newly-formed 266 Squadron at Sutton Bridge on in September 1939.
The squadron was due to be equipped with Blenheim bombers but in the event was re-designated a fighter squadron and the pilots had to convert to Spitfires.
In December 1939 he was posted to 222 Squadron. On 17th February 1940 he was a passenger in Magister I R1827 which flew into the ground near Ashwell in Hertfordshire. The pilot, P/O AF Delamore, was killed.
Bassett was badly injured and did not return to 222 till 21st July 1940. He served with it throughout the Battle though still suffering headaches and other symptoms.
On 15th November he was posted to 10 SFTS for flying duties as Staff Pilot but after only a few weeks was sent to 32 STFS Moose Jaw, Canada as an instructor.
On 18th February 1941 he was admitted to hospital in Winnipeg after a crash in training and was there for nearly three months.
He returned to the UK in September 1941 and was posted to 152 Squadron. He served with 152 till October 1942 when the squadron was declared non-operational prior to going overseas. It went by sea to Gibraltar and on 14th November 1942 took off for Maison Blanche, Algiers to take part in the invasion of North Africa.
En route the engine of Bassett's Spitfire caught fire. He was seen to bale out and successfully inflate and board his dinghy. But when Spitfires returned to search for him no trace was found.
Bassett was 22 years old and is commemorated on the Malta Memorial.