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WW1 Casualty: Sergeant 1238313 Stanislaus Ignatius Canovan -

Sergeant 1238313 Stanislaus Ignatius Canovan



Unit/Regiment RAF Vol Reserve, 104 Sqdn
Date of Death 24/11/1943 Age at Death 20
Burial/Memorial
& Reference
Stagliano Cemetery, Genoa
Coll Grave III 30
SDGW – Where Born Prescot
Research Ref. No. P040

Service Details

When my Great War research started a few years back, one of the first things I did was to photograph and transcribe the names of the Civic War Memorial in Prescot. The memorial has panels for both world wars and an extra panel which includes names added later. Included in this list was the name 'S Canavan'.

My early investigations into this particular name came up blank, and so I added this entry to my website which stated that I didn't even know if he was a casualty of the Great War or Second World War, hoping somebody would spot this and email me. However, four years down the line from launching the web site, nothing had come to light to help with this.

In June 2012, however, I was working my way through the 1911 census and I came across an entry in Prescot for a James Canovan; note the 'o' instead of 'a' in the surname. I wondered if the memorial entry had perhaps been mis-engraved in some way and searched CWGC. I found an entry for Sergeant Air Gunner Stanislaus Canovan, who died on 24th November 1943 and is buried in Genoa, Italy.

A search of Birth records revealed the registration entry for Stanislaus in Prescot in 1923. Although the CWGC entry doesn't have any personal information on Stanislaus, I traced his parents as William and Susan Canovan (nee Brown), who had married in Stockport in 1919. I didn't try to trace the family information any further as I assumed that for such an unusual name, this must be the same man.

Additional research revealed that Stanislaus must have enlisted into the RAF Volunteer Reserve in April/May 1940. It's hard to say where and when he trained, or with which units he served, but it is clear that by the time of his death he was serving in 104 Squadron. Flying Wellington bombers, the squadron had been based in Tunisia, North Africa, taking part in actions on Sicily, Italy and the Balkans.

On the night he died, he was probably in one of two bombers of 104 Squadron, LN338 or (probably) LN386. Both of these planes were part of a force attacking a ball bearing plant in Turin from their base in Tunisia, but 17 planes failed to return from the raid.

The 7 man crew of Stanislaus' bomber are buried in a collective grave at Stagliano Cemetery, Genoa. This suggests that initially, they may have been buried close to where the aircraft crashed and they were then reinterred after the war.

Having found this information, I decided to add it to the Roll of Honour, making Stanislaus the only casualty of the Second World War on my site.

I found the family in the 1939 National register living at 66, Kingsway, Prescot. One of the sisters, Winifred, married Michael Bannister in Prescot in 1948. They went on to have 5 children and lived a few doors away from me at 58, Kingsway


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