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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. D L Burton

 

Douglas Lawrence Burton was born in Opunake, New Zealand on 14th December 1916. He was working as a salesman in Sydney, Australia at the outbreak of war. He returned to New Zealand and enlisted in the RNZAF as a trainee Observer.


After training at Weraroa and flying at the Air Observers School at Ohakea Burton sailed for the UK in the RMS Rangitata on 7th June 1940. At the end of July he was posted to 17 OTU Upwood and he joined 106 Squadron at Finningley on 2nd October. Ten days later he went to Sumburgh in the Shetlands to join 248 Squadron, a Coastal Command unit seconded to Fighter Command.

 


He was a member of the crew of Blenheim P6952 WR*X, detailed to carry out a reconnaissance off the south-west coast of Norway on 20th October 1940. After engaging and damaging a Do18 of 1./KuFlGr.406 the Blenheim was attacked by Me109's of JG77. One engine was knocked out and the cockpit filled with smoke. The captain, P/O GM Baird, got down to low level, flying blind and skimming over the sea at a speed of 150 mph. The aircraft struck the sea 12 miles off Utsira and the fuselage filled with water.

Baird freed himself and opened the hatch. He then managed to float out the unconscious Burton but was unable to rescue Sgt. R Copcutt, also unconscious, before the aircraft sank.

Sgt. SV Wood had freed himself and released the dinghy, the three survivors climbed aboard and were later picked up by He59 BV+HH of Seenotflugkdo.5 and landed at Stavanger.

Burton was treated at hospital then sent to Stalag Luft 1 and later Stalag Luft 3, where he worked in the Red Cross Store. He was promoted to Warrant Officer in May 1943.

Burton arrived back in New Zealand in January 1946, spent some time in hospital and went on to the reserve in December. He became a partner in a sports-outfitting business in Wanganui.

He died there on 20th November 1974.


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