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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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85 Squadron Crest
20.05.1940 No. 85 Squadron Hurricane I P2427 P/O. Roger W. Burton

Operation: Ground strafing, Arras France

Date: 20th May 1940 (Monday)

Unit: No. 85 Squadron

Type: Hurricane MkI

Serial: P2427 (some sources state that it was P3427)

Code: VY-?

Base: Merville, France

Location: near Querrieu, north-east of Amiens France

Pilot: P/O. Roger William Burton 78440 RAFVR Age 26. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Shot down by Bf109s while ground strafing enemy columns east of Arras and crashed near Querrieu, north-east of Amiens, Possibly that claimed by Lt von Werra of Stab II./JG3.

Roger William Burton was born on 28th October 1913 in Stoke Newington, London, and was educated in Stepney at Raines Foundation School for Boys. Burton applied for a five year appointment with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1937, and went forward for pilot training with the Reserve Flying School of De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd on 27th June 1937. He was at the time living in Cockfosters, Hertfordshire.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Burton, was mobilised, and by then a qualified pilot, saw service as a Pilot Officer (No.78440) with 85 Squadron, flying in Hurricane fighter aircraft.

As such he was posted to France on the 14th May 1940. With the German invasion of France, Burton was only in action for a short period, fighting during the period that the Royal Air Force was heavily outnumbered and outgunned, suffering heavy losses, and just prior to the evacuation of Dunkirk, Burton was himself killed in action on 20th May 1940 when performing a ground attack, he was jumped on and shot down by Me109’s from II/Jagdgeschwader 3.

During the day 85 Squadron made 6 enemy aircraft claims. 27 year old, F/O. Michael Beckett Czernin (1) 37148 RAF claiming a Hs126 destroyed with 24 year old, Sgt. Harold Norman Howes (2) DFM 740896 RAFVR of Gillingham, Kent claiming 5 Do17 destroyed (1 unconfirmed)

It was not without other losses:

Hurricane I P2555 Flown by Sgt. Harold Norman Howes who abandoned his aircraft near Abbeville, but survived.
Hurricane I L2141 Flown by 28 year old, Fl/Lt. Michael Fitzwilliam Peacock DFC 90124 RAF from Chalvington, Sussex - killed. (Buried at Arras Communal Cemetery)
Hurricane I P3426 Flown by 19 year old P/O. Richard William Shrewsbury 41874 RAF from Hall Green, Birmingham - killed. (Buried at Arras Communal Cemetery)

(1) Later, Sq/Ldr. Michael Beckett Czernin went on to win the DSO. DFC and the MC. Served with the Special Operations Executive. He survived the war but died suddenly on the 06th October 1962 age just 47.

(2) On the 22nd December 1940, Sgt Howes took-off in Hurricane V6679 from RAF Gravesend at 17.45 hours on night patrol. The weather became bad and he was recalled. Failed to return and crashed at Cuxton being killed instantaneously. The cause of the accident is not known.

Burial details:

P/O. Roger William Burton. Querrieu British Cemetery Picardie, France, Row E. Grave 15. Son of William and Cathrine Alice Burton, of Cockfosters, Hertfordshire, England.

Researched Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - October 2015. With thanks to Carina and Gary Nelson for grave photo, Richard Platt for portrait photo and corrected information (December 2015), Others - Michel Beckers collection. Also to the Unit Histories website for further information.

MB/KTY 30.10.2015

KTY 06.12.2015 - correction on some details, courtesy Richard Platt.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 06 December 2015, 15:36

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