The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J H B Burgess
John Henry Bateman Burgess was born in 1920 and attended Leyton County High School for Boys. On leaving he worked for an insurance company and joined the RAFVR on 23rd July 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He did his initial training at 21 E&RFTS Stapleford.
Called up on 1st September 1939, he went to No. 1 ITW Cambridge on 15th November. He was posted to 11 FTS Shawbury on 1st February 1940 before going on to 5 OTU Aston Down on 6th July to convert to Spitfires. Burgess then joined 222 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 29th July.
Burgess claimed a Me109 destroyed on 7th September, shared a Me109 on 15th October, probably destroyed a Me109 on the 17th and shared another on the 29th. In the latter engagement his Spitfire, P9318, received damage to the glycol system and he made a forced-landing on a dummy aerodrome at Lenham. The Me109 crashed on Sheerlands Farm, Pluckley.
Burgess damaged a Ju88 on 27th April 1941. Commissioned in May, he probably destroyed a Me109 on 21st August and damaged a Me109 on 17th September.
He was posted to 129 Squadron at Westhampnett on 18th October as a Flight Commander. On 27th December he went to 53 OTU Llandow as an instructor. In mid-February 1942 Burgess was sent on a course at CFS Upavon, returning in mid-March to Llandow.
Burgess joined 66 Squadron at Ibsley on 6th August 1942 but three weeks later he sailed in the MV Leinster to Gibraltar, where he was put in charge of a defence flight of six Spitfires and six Hurricanes.
He was posted to Luqa, Malta on 26th October 1942 as a Flight Commander with 1435 Squadron. On 5th November he damaged a Me109.
On a sweep across Sicily on the 25th, to attack Comiso aerodrome, Burgess was attacked by Fw190's. His Spitfire caught fire and he crashed into the sea, just offshore from the beach at Gela and he was captured.
After being entertained by the pilots of JG2 at Santa Pietra, Burgess was handed over to the Italians and imprisoned at Chieti. He was later held in Stalag Luft 3.
After repatriation to Britain in May 1945, Burgess was released from the RAF on 23rd November 1945.
He returned to insurance, later moving on to a successful career in banking. He retired in 1980.
Burgess died on 10th August 1988.