Our Royal Canadian Navy Heroes – 1955

Because of the information which I have outlined below I thought it necessary and sufficiently informative to expand upon the original article of the loss of the SS KISMET II off Meat Cove, Cape Breton Island. It is a very small world indeed. Because of my Cape Breton News blog this gentleman who turns out to be the son of the hero of the rescue of the crew sees my Post in the blog and drops me a line. I contact him and learn the information which I have included below. This occurred just last week February 15, and yesterday while I was at Princess Margaret Hospital and later at the Bickle Centre looking at various devices to enable a person to text to speak the lady who was checking out my application happens to be a Loralee MacLean from Halifax whose father was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Navy and stationed at HMCS Shearwater at the time and will no doubt know of the hero of our story.

(This is the first comment to me from John Beeman – CAPER)

A very well written account of the rescue. We listened in complete awe when we were able to get my father to talk about the rescue. He was a modest man.

Sadly my father the pilot on this rescue past away just a few weeks ago (Dec 21 2010) with his 7 kids at his side. We all miss him terribly, not only was he a hero in wartime and in peace time, but an amazing father and patriarch.

I have a few more photos I would be glad to send along such as the portrait of my father receiving the George Medal here in Ottawa from Queen Elizabeth II.

Also we had the privilege of visiting the actual aircraft with my father as it now sits here in his home town in the Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

Another great picture I can send along is one of my father shaking the hand of the ship’s Captain just after the rescue still in his mae west and drenched in sweat.

Would the author know by any chance if any of the survivors of the Kismett II are still alive today?

Kindest regards, John Stewart Beemen

Picture of the Rescue Heliocopter – RCN 220

(I then wrote him back – CAPER)

John Stewart Beeman. What a pleasant surprise to hear from the son of a Royal Canadian Navy aviator hero. Please send along those pictures you referred to and I will use them. The gentleman who wrote the story and was on the scene (he lived next to the top of the cliff above where the SS KISMET went ashore.) His name was John Angus Fraser a relative of mine. We visited with him several years ago. He went overseas in WWII as a 16 old and was captured and spent most of the war in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. I too spent 28 years in the Navy and was in during the time your father was flying choppers. Thanks for the comments.

John Angus Fraser – The Story Teller

Hi George,


Nice to hear from another Navy man. Its interesting that you were so close to the rescue and knew the author. I read your bio and found it fascinating.

LCdr John Beeman being presented with George Medal by Queen Elizabeth II 

My Dad was in the service and spend VE day in the hospital recovering from wounds he received in battle on attack boats in the English Channel and North Sea during the war. So he had been decorated long before the rescue. He was only 19 when he enlisted in the Navy and endured 3 years of WWII. His flying career didn’t start until 1946 and he learned to fly on Tiger Moths before flying the Harvard, Barracuda, Firefly’s, Avenger and Lancaster’s


I was born in 1959 in Halifax while my dad was stationed in Shearwater. I have many fond memories of flying with my dad when he was regional marketing manager for Bell Helicopters. He always had a helicopter for demonstration purposes and so we were able to fly in them often. From the early G2’s and G4’s to the Jet Ranger’s, and many others. He had the honor of flying Prime Minister Trudeau and I also has pictures of them on that day if they are of interest to you.


We used to say officers dont sweat they Perspire – See Perspiration on brow of LCdr Beeman

Ship’s Captain and LCdr Beeman

The love of aviation has grown thru our family. I became a license private pilot with my dads help at 18 years old while still in high school. My late mother Peggy Beeman was also a pilot and chairperson for the ninety-nines. My brother also has his private license and my uncle was a 747 Captain. My youngest sister’s and her husband are in senior in management at Nav Canada. So as I mentioned aviation is the topic of choice at family gathering to this day.


LCdr Beeman with Mom

I will scan the pictures and send them along, I will use the best quality my scanner offers so please let me know if they are ok, if too large, or not high enough definition, and I will try again.

Its a pleasure and an honor to hear from you.


John S Beeman

John Angus Fraser – Warrior, POW, Fisherman, Story Teller and Author

About the Author John Angus Fraser – Meat Cove, Cape Breton.

John Angus Fraser wrote his story 14 years after the event. He wrote it as something to hold onto during the rough months after his wife Ronie died. The pain of his loss comes through clearly in his story. But what comes through as well is a vigourous storyteller at the centre of his tale. Our thanks to John Angus for sharing this story with us. We admire, especially, his ability to keep alive the feel of good spoken storytelling in his writing.

We are grateful for the Rasmussen family of Bay St Lawrence for having encouraged John Angus’ writing and for preserving his work. David and Tamara introduce us to this story. To see the complete story see the Cape Breton Magazine – it is on the internet just google it.


Old Sailors Never Die – They Just Fade Away – May you always have a following sea Sir

Following the wreck, more and more people went aboard the Kismet II. They came from all round Cape Breton. The ship was so completely stripped that when a salvage crew from Halifax arrived, they found virtually nothing left but the shell of the ship. It was a marvelous example of salvage, and of recycling! Brass pipes became drain pipes. Clocks and barometers and valves found new homes. Even the anchor chain was gone. Well done Cape Bretoners, they cleaned her b’ye!


John Angus tells a story about his father-in-law who was putting a basement under his house and couldn’t find enough jacks to lift the house. He made the remark: “When he would get the house up there would be enough liquor under there from the Kismet to get everyone in the country drunk.” The next day there were enough people there to lift the house and hold it up until he got the blocks under it. And the liquor out from under it?

It was our great pleasure to meet John Angus and his daughter Donna and her husband Wildman and spend the better part of the day with them. What interesting characters. I went with my brother Derrick, and my sisters, Eleanor, Marilyn, Mina, Ginny, and Judy we had a great day full of beautiful scenery and laughs.

LCdr Beeman in Centre in Summer Dress Khaki with other Crew – HMCS Shearwater

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