Beckett, Samuel Nicholl (No. 970018)

Beckett, Samuel Nicholl

Warrant Officer

No. 970018, 429 (RCAF) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in action on Sunday 11 April 1943 (aged 25)

Buried:

Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

(Collective Grave 8. K. 12-17)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)

Baronscourt Parish Church of Ireland Church, Co. Tyrone

BIOGRAPHY

In some records, including the CWGC Debt of Honour, Samuel’s second forename is spelt Nicoll.

Samuel Nicholl Beckett was born on 2 September 1917 and he was a son of Samuel Nicholl Beckett and Elizabeth Beckett (nee Swanton) of 13 Thorndale Avenue, Belfast and, later, Greenways, 45 Edgecumbe Gardens, Belfast.  Samuel Nicholl Beckett Senior worked as an Insurance Manager with the Prudential Assurance Company Ltd., and he and Elizabeth Swanton were married on 9 December 1902 in University Road Methodist Church, Belfast.

For a time, the Beckett family lived in Lurgan and they had at least five children:

Eileen Anna (born 9 January 1905)

John (born 14 March 1906)

James (born 1 July 1908)

William (born 8 May 1912)

Samuel Nicholl (born 2 September 1917)

Samuel Nicholl Beckett was educated at Antrim Road Public Elementary School, Belfast and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) from 1928 until 1933.  He left school (aged 16) to join the British Tanker Company Ltd., part of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company Ltd., as an Apprentice Officer.  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve shortly after the outbreak of war and on 19 March 1942 he and Victoria Maud Carson of 39 Rugby Avenue, Bangor were married in Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church.

A little over a year later Warrant Officer Samuel Nicholl Beckett (aged 25) was killed in action on 11 April 1943.  Initially he was reported missing in action and later it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been killed.  He was one of a five-man crew aboard a Vickers Wellington Mark X aircraft (HE636) that took off at 11.21 pm from RAF East Moor in Yorkshire on a mission to bomb Frankfurt.  The aircraft crashed and, in addition to Warrant Officer Samuel Nicholl Beckett, the other four crew members who died that night were:

  • WO Douglas William Jefferis (aged 23) from Taunton, Somerset
  • Flying Officer Leslie Sidney Knott (aged 27) from Houndslow, Middlesex
  • Flight Sergeant Alun Gwyn Lewis
  • Flight Sergeant Kleon Donald Franklin (aged 31) from Poole, Dorsetshire

All were buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery and Warrant Officer Samuel Nicholl Beckett is commemorated in RBAI.  On Sunday 2 September 2011 a commemorative church service was held in Baronscourt Parish Church of Ireland Church in County Tyrone to dedicate a plaque to the memory of the eighteen scouts from 74th Belfast (RBAI) Scout Group who lost their lives in the Second World War, many of whom had camped on the Baronscourt Estate in the years immediately prior to the outbreak of hostilities.  The plaque commemorated the 70th anniversary of the first building of a memorial cairn by RBAI scouts on the nearby hill known as Bessy Bell. In addition to Warrant Officer Samuel Nicholl Beckett the plaque bears the names of Captain Samuel David Corry, Sergeant Sydney Ireland and Bombardier Francis Eric Sheals.