Henry William Beggs

Born in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh, Henry William Beggs served in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy before his untimely death on 15th November 1942.

Lieutenant

Henry William Beggs

Lieutenant Henry William Beggs was one of over 500 personnel killed when a German U-Boat sank HMS Avenger to the north-west of Gibraltar in November 1942.

Lieutenant Henry William Beggs served in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy during World War Two. After flying in the Battle of Britain, he went on to join the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

Born on 6th September 1916, he was the son of John Allen Beggs, a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and Anne Louise (Nancy) Beggs (née Allingham) of Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh. He was the husband of Patricia Rosemary Beggs of Chiswick, Middlesex.

He enlisted in the Royal Air Force on a short service commission in November 1936. As an Acting Pilot Officer, he completed training and joined RAF 115 Squadron on 4th September 1937. The Royal Air Force terminated his commission on 28th December 1937.

In May 1939, Beggs joined the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. On 15th June 1940, he was attached to the Royal Air Force, converted to Hawker Hurricanes, and served in the Battle of Britain. On 1st July 1940, he joined RAF 151 Squadron from RAF Martlesham Heath, Suffolk.

Beggs downed a Messerschmitt ME109 of 4/JG 52 over Kent on 14th August 1940. The following day, he received injuries after a Messerschmitt ME109 shot down his Hawker Hurricane P3605 over Dover. After recovering from his injuries, he rejoined the Fleet Air Arm. In January 1942, he joined Naval Air Squadron 883. He died on 15th November 1942 aged 25 years old.

The Royal Navy declared Henry William Beggs missing presumed killed after an attack on HMS Avenger (D-14). Commander AP Colhurst was captain of the British Royal Navy vessel as it embarked on a return journey to the Clyde from North Africa.

On 15th November 1942, at 0414hrs, U-155, under the command of Adolf Cornelius Piening, fired 4 torpedos at convoy MKF-1Y. The convoy was around 120 miles north-west of Gibraltar. HMS Avenger was one of 3 ships hit by the German submarine’s torpedos. The Ettrick also sunk and a missile caused damage to USS Almaack (AK 27).

The torpedo that struck HMS Avenger detonated the ship’s bomb load and blew up the entire centre section of the vessel. The Avenger sank in under 2 minutes. HNoMS Glaisdale (L 44), captained by Lieutenant Commander T Horve), picked up 12 survivors. The remaining 514 personnel on board died as a result of the incident.

Henry William Beggs has no known grave. His name is on Bay 3, Panel 1 of the Fleet Air Arm Memorial, Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire.

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