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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. O V Burns


Owen Valentine Burns was born in Birkenhead on 20th November 1915 and was educated at St. Francis Xaviers College, Liverpool. He joined the RAFVR at 3 RAF Depot, Padgate on 3rd October 1939 as an Airman u/t WOp/AG. With his training completed, Burns joined 235 Squadron at Bircham Newton in June 1940.

The squadron mainly carried out aerodrome protection duties and escorted aircraft that were attacking the French ports and German shipping. On an offensive sweep on 18th November he shot down a Do18 flying boat.


Returning from a dusk patrol over the North Sea on 14th February 1941, Burns Blenheim hit a tree as it was about to land at Langham, when the flarepath lights were put out because of enemy aircraft in the vicinity. The observer was killed, the pilot was seriously injured and Burns escaped with a broken collarbone.

After a spell of Aerodrome Control duties, Burns joined 279 (ASR) Squadron in December 1941, flying Hudsons carrying the 24 foot long airborne lifeboat. Commissioned in February 1943, Burns was posted to 5(C) OTU in December as an instructor.

In 1944 he did specialised gunnery courses and in December went to 16 Group in Edinburgh, where he was one of a small team re-writing gunnery instructions for all aircrew.

Burns was appointed Gunnery Officer at 19 Group Plymouth in January 1945 and in February he became PA to the AOC, AVM CBS Spackman.

When a new AOC arrived in November 1947 Burns was posted to RAF west Kirby as OC SHQ Unit.

He left the RAF in March 1948.

Burns died on 30th June 2015.


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