Basil Claude Cann
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About Basil Claude

  • Name
    Basil Claude
  • Initials
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    29 September 1882
  • Birth town
    Calstock, Devon
  • Resided town
    Calstock, Devon
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
    Braintree, Essex
  • Date of death
    27 July 1968
  • Married
  • Occupation

Service Information

  • Civilian

  • Service Number
  • Rank


Basil Claude Cann, Clerk in Holy Orders, at Manchester Cathedral passed through Peterborough East Station on 27 December 1916 and wrote in the visitors’ book “This is an excellent rest for Sailors and Soldiers, so much is this so that the clergy find their way here because of the first class cuisine etc”.  He was travelling with William Coleman, also from Manchester Cathedral.

Basil Claude was born in Calstock, Devon on 29 September 1882, to parents George Beavis Cann, a school master and Susan Elizabeth A (nee Tucker), a school mistress.  Basil was one of six children and the family lived at The School House in Calstock, Tavistock, Devon.

According to school logs, on 9 March 1904 Basil began teaching as an assistant master at Wood Street National School in Barnet, Hertfordshire.  The following year the log records that Basil tendered his resignation as family matters made it necessary for him to return home to Devonshire.  By 1911, Basil was a school master living at 15 – 16 Bene’t Street, Cambridge with his uncle and aunt, John and Eliza Perring.

With thanks to Manchester Cathedral, we have discovered that Basil went on to study at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, where he obtained a BA in 1912, followed by an MA in 1916.  He also attended Sarum Theological College in 1913.  During the period 1913 to 1914, he was both a Deacon and a Priest in the Norwich Diocese and was Curate of Feltwell from 1913-16.  It was while he was a Clerk in Orders at Manchester Cathedral during the period 1916-19 that he visited Peterborough East Station.  From 1919, he became Vicar of Ridgewell in the Diocese of Chelmsford where he remained for 48 years.  He was also Patron of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge. (Information from Crockfords Clerical Directory via Manchester Cathedral).

Basil married Elsie Goodwin, in 1920 at Chorlton, Manchester, and they had a least one child, Lindsey Northcote Beavis Cann, born in Wantage on 10 May 1921.  Lindsay was a Flight Lieutenant with 156 (Pathfinder) Squadron who operated Lancaster aircraft from RAF Upwood and flew 18 operations with them between 26 August 1944 and his death on 17 December 1944.

‘During a bombing raid on the Sterkrade oil refinery on 6 October 1944, Cann was badly injured, but continued until the bombs were released on the target before seeking assistance for his wounds.  Becoming increasingly weaker and no longer able to fly the plane himself, Cann instructed his Sargeant who flew the aircraft to within a few miles of the base when Cann took control at 2,000 feet and executed a “perfect” landing.  Cann was awarded an immediate Distinguished Flying Cross.

On the 17 December 1944 Cann took off for a raid on the town of Ulm, the home of the Margirius-Deutz and Kassbohrer lorry factories and a number of other industrial targets. Two Lancasters failed to return from the raid of which one was Lindsay Cann’s’.

‘A remarkable tale of wartime bravery and comradeship was recalled by Squadron Leader Jack Harrild who was with the Pathfinder Force 635 Squadron at Downham Market. Returning from a successful bombing raid on 13 September 1944 his aircraft was badly damaged. An aircraft from another squadron came alongside and the pilot Lindsay Cann tucked himself under the badly damaged starboard engine and wing and escorted the damaged aircraft safely back to Downham Market’.

In 1939, Basil was the Vicar of Ridgewell and was living at the Crown & Anchor Hotel, Westgate Street, Ipswich.  Basil died in Braintree, Essex on 27 July 1968, aged 85.

Could you be related to Basil Cann?  Please get in touch if you can tell us more.

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