Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
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Remembering Robert “Bob” Aggas, RN, RCN (Ret.) Telegraphist Air Gunn Robert was born in Lavenham, Suffolk, England, on July 7, 1916; son of Robert Henry (1883-1956) and Winifred (Smith) Aggas (1886-1967). Robert joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16, rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (CPO) during the Second World War. He was deployed as a Telegraphist Air Gunner and saw action in North Africa, Scotland, Italy and the North Atlantic. He was stationed on the Royal Navy’s HMS Suffolk (55) when they located and shadowed the Bismarck, which contributed to the later sinking of the Bismarck on May 28, 1941. HMS Suffolk was involved in the Battle of the Denmark Strait after being deployed there May 8, 1941. Suffolk had engaged the Bismarck twice during the battle, firing several salvoes on the ship May 23rd. Using radar, Suffolk was able to track the Bismarck through the Denmark Strait and maintained contact long enough for other units to vector into Bismarck's path. During the battle the battle-cruiser HMS Hood was sunk with heavy loss of life and the battleship Prince of Wales was damaged and forced to retreat. Afterwards Suffolk shadowed the Bismarck until low on oil and forced to make for Reykjavík, Iceland. There were 1415 lost when HMS hood was sunk by the Bismarck; only three survivors were pulled from the water. Of the 1415 men lost, there were just under twenty Newfoundlanders and three Canadians lost - Midshipmen Thomas Norman Kemp Beard, Francis Jones, and Christopher Norman, of the Royal Canadian Navy. Robert’s future wife Violet Vera Foam was born in Deal, Kent, England, on March 28, 1913. She was the daughter of George Albert and Eliza Ann (Williams) Foam. She had emigrated to Canada at the age of two, but returned to the UK in spring of 1939 to marry Robert, who was on active service with the Royal Navy. Violet’s brother Sergeant Victor Leonard Foam, was born in Montreal, Quebec, on June 30, 1918. He died during the breakout from Juno Beach on July 25, 1944, in the Battle of Verrières Ridge (Operation Spring) in Normandy, France. He was serving with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada. He rests in the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery. After the war, Robert and Violet returned to Canada in 1946, residing in Montreal where Robert was briefly employed with Northern Electric. They remained in Montreal until 1954, at which time the family moved to Nova Scotia when Robert re-enlisted, this time in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). During his time in the RCN, he served with the Canadian carrier HMCS Magnificent and then at Shearwater until his military retirement. He was then employed at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography on research ships for several years. The family also lived in Dartmouth, Coldbrook, Fall River and Truro, Nova Scotia. He was a ham radio operator and loved to sail in his younger years. Violet began working with the federal government and retired in 1970 as an administrative clerk. She was a talented seamstress and avid knitter. She loved her garden and spent many days enjoying her flowers in Waverley and Coldbrook, Nova Scotia. Robert and Violet Aggas had two sons, Victor and Robert and a daughter, Bonnie. Robert died at Colchester East Hants Health Centre, Truro, on Monday, October 6, 2014, at the age of 98 and was predeceased by his wife Violet, aged 98, July 19, 2011 at the Cedarstone Enhanced Care, Truro. They were married for 72 years before her passing in 2011. Sources: Robert Aggas: Violet Vera Aggas:
Violet Vera Aggas 1911-2011
Robert Aggas 1916-2014