Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour



Major Basil Saunders Beazley RE



Major Basil Saunders Beazley RE (126365) (1913-1943) was Officer Commanding 9 Fd Coy RE (Airborne) in 1943. His distant cousin, Mike Beazley, was later a troop commander in 9 Indep Para Sqn RE from 1975 to 1978 (retired as a Lt Col) and is the author of this biography.

Basil was educated at Radley School where he represented the school at rowing. He later represented England at rowing and won a gold medal in the eights at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He became an electrical engineer and lived in Newport Road, Cardiff before the Second World War. He was killed during World War II, in 1943 during the glider-borne operation to seize the Ponte Grande bridge (Operation LADBROKE) and is buried in the Syracuse War Cemetery in Sicily. He was awarded a Mention in Despatches. His name is inscribed on Burford war memorial.

His obituary from Radley School reads as follows: “On July 10th, 1943, killed in action, Basil Saunders Beazley, Major, RE. Basil Beazley's death comes as a great shock to all his contemporaries. He made many friends both at Radley and in the subsequent years when he distinguished himself so much in the rowing world. An early accident on the Rugger field turned his energies to other activities. He became a first class athlete and won the half-mile two years in succession. He was 1st VIII cox in 1929, rowed in the VIII in 1931 and stroked it in 1932. When he left to go to Faraday House his success continued. He rowed for many good London rowing club crews and was a member of the winning Head of the River crew in I935. But perhaps his greatest achievement was that of rowing in the winning British VIII at the Empire Games in 1938. As a Major of an Airborne Field Company he took part in the invasion of Sicily. With a few of his Sappers and a handful of infantry he managed to reach an important bridge near Syracuse where he was killed instantaneously by an Italian machine gun. Our deep sympathy goes out to his brother Derek, and to his parents whom we used to see so often at Radley.”

The post operation report on LADBROKE states, “Glider No 38, Officer IC - Major Beazley. This glider landed in a tomato plantation and the crew succeeded in unloading the combination, but were at once forced to abandon it as they came under fire.  They then made their way North along the road leading to “Bilston” which they by-passed in a Northwards direction and met Col Walsh and his party.  They all then continued northwards, were fired on from "Walsall" and again made a detour arriving at "Waterloo" (Ponte Grande) at 0500 hrs, where Major Beazley at once stripped the charges from the bridge.  They then joined in the defence of the bridge, in the course of which the OC was killed at about 1430 hrs.  The remainder of the glider load were captured by the Italians and later released by the 8th Army.  Major Beazley's grave reference 126293 274 (ii) Syracusa.”

Mike Beazley



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