Basil Gantz

Navigator, 19 (S.A.A.F) Squadron
Service number 1395278
Died 18 Aug 1944
Buried Belgrade War Cemetery
Age 24

Headstone Inscription

Basil was born in October 1921 in Hampstead to Hyman and Harriet nee Goldman. Basil had an older brother Norman who served in the army and a younger brother Dennis who died in 1937 aged thirteen. Basil enlisted into the RAF in 1940 when he was twenty. His brother Norman recalled: ‘Basil was always crazy about planes. After leaving school, he worked in a reserved occupation. After volunteering seven times, he was accepted for aircrew training, most of which took place in Canada. Returning briefly to London, he was posted to Egypt. I see from letters dated in August 1944, that he was reported missing “as a result of air operations when a Beaufighter aircraft set out to bomb a target in Yugoslavia”. On 5 July 1945, we were told that he was to be presumed killed. His body was ultimately found, and he is buried in the British Military Cemetery, Belgrade’. Excerpt from ‘We Will Remember Them’, by Henry Morris & Martin Sugarman.

Basil was the navigator of Beaufighter JL910 which departed from Biferno aerodrome in Italy. The aircraft flew towards Kododesh in Albania before heading towards the target in Bogdanci in North Macedonia to bomb trains and camouflaged buildings. Basil’s aircraft was seen to break away from the formation and was thought to have difficulty in climbing. It passed over the first hill and then disappeared into a valley where it failed to make any further communication.

Basil and the Canadian Pilot John Alexander Neilson J/14736 were killed.

19 Squadron Operations Record Book