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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. H F Burton


Howard Frizelle Burton was born in Letchworth in 1916, the son of Major Louis Burton and Edith Jane Frizelle.

Major Burton was killed serving with the Royal Field Artillery on 9th June 1917 aged 42 and lies in St. Hilaire Cemetery at Frevent, west of Arras.

HF Burton was educated at Bedford School, he entered the RAF College Cranwell as a Flight Cadet in January 1935.

On 7th October 1936 Burton was aloft in Hawker Fury K5681 from Cranwell along with F/Lt. RJO Bartlett in K5682 for camera gun practice. The two aircraft collided and locked together.

Both men were able to bale out but Bartlett's deploying parachute caught on a projection on the wreckage and he fell to his death. The wreckage came down at Navenby, North Kesteven.

Burton was awarded the Sword of Honour at his graduation in December 1936. On the 19th he joined 46 Squadron at Digby.

In October 1939 Burton was posted to 66 Squadron at Digby as a Flight Commander. On 12th May 1940 he shared a He111. On 2nd June he got a probable He111 over Dunkirk, on the 19th Burton damaged a Ju88 and on 29th July he shared in the destruction of a He111.

He had married Jean Ferelith Maxwell Robertson at Ashtead in Surrey on 6th July 1940.



Promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on 3rd September, he was given command of 616 Squadron at Kenley. Burton had no further victories until 21st June 1941 when he shared a Me109. On 21st July he shared another and on the 23rd he damaged one. Awarded the DFC (gazetted 19th September 1941) Burton was posted away in September for a rest from operations.

In early 1942 Burton was posted to the Middle East and later became Wing Leader of 239 (Kitryhawk) Wing. On 18th January 1943 he destroyed a Me109 and shot down another on 26th February. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 23rd February 1943).

At the end of his tour of operations he received the DSO (gazetted 6th April 1943) and was posted back to the UK in May 1943.




The first leg of his return to North Africa on 3rd June 1943 was from Portreath to Gibraltar aboard Hudson VI FK386 of No.1 Overseas Air Dispatch Unit. This aircraft was intercepted over the Bay of Biscay by a long-range Ju88C-6 of KG40 (Lt. H Olbrecht) and shot down. All the occupants were reported 'Missing':

F/O JB Buckley
F/O EJ McSherney
F/Sgt. DV Edwards

G/Capt. R Yaxley
W/Cdr. HF Burton
W/Cdr. E Paul
W/Cdr. PT Cotton
W/Cdr. J Goodhead
S/Ldr. JK Young
S/Ldr. OV Hanbury (also flew in the Battle)

Burton is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 118.

He was awarded the Croix de Guerre (France).


Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner



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