The Airmen's Stories - F/O P R-F Burton
Percival Ross-Frames Burton was born in 1917 in Cape Province, South Africa and joined the South African Coast Garrison and Citizen Forces in 1935. He later went to Britain, to Christ Church College, Oxford to read Jurisprudence. In 1938 he was reserve cox for the Oxford crew in the University Boat Race.
Above: Burton (right) with his 249 Squadron colleague JRB Meaker, who was also killed on 27th September.
Burton learned to fly with the University Air Squadron and was
called up in October 1939. After completing his training at FTS
Cranwell he arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 22nd June 1940 to convert to Hurricanes and joined 249 Squadron at Church Fenton on 21st July.
On the morning of 27th September the squadron engaged a formation of Me110s of V/LG1. The Hurricanes broke the Germans' two defensive circles and the enemy aircraft went south at low level, heading for the
Channel. Burton pursued one of the 110s for about forty miles, often
at little more than treetop height, but the German pilot, the Gruppe Kommandeur of V/LGI, Hauptmann Horst Liensberger, was unable to shake him off.
Just north of Hailsham, Burton's guns stopped firing (presumably due to being out of ammunition) and the two aircraft
skimmed over the rooftops.
The Hurricane, V6883, was above and behind
the Me110. Burton suddenly banked and made what appeared to be an
attack. Both machines lurched and an object spun away. The tail unit of the
110 dropped into a field, followed by the rest of the aircraft. The falling
object was the wingtip of Burton's Hurricane. His aircraft crashed into a
huge oak tree on New Barn Farm, throwing its dead pilot clear and burning
itself out in a field.
The German crew were buried in Hailsham Cemetery but were exhumed
after the war and buried elsewhere. Burton is buried in St Andrew's
Eye-witness reports indicate strongly that he deliberately rammed the Me110. A letter from Fighter Command to the
Hailsham ARP Chief said that Burton was to be recommended for a
posthumous gallantry award. This could only have been the VC but in fact
he only received a Mention in Despatches.
In 1980 a road on a housing estate near to the site of the crash site was named 'Burton Walk' in his memory.
There is a related print (below) 'Rooftop Pursuit' by the noted aviation artist Geoff Nutkins, details here
A donation from each sale will be made for upkeep of this website.