Aircrew RAF pilots Plt Off James R B Meaker and Percy Burton from 249Sqn both KIA
Photo: A staged publicity photo of pilots Meaker and Burton of 249 Squadron—both killed on the same day. (Photo courtesy of Clive Ellis)
Photo Source: Flight Journal AUGUST 2015
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNA Flt Off J B Nicholson P3576 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-A Flt Off J B Nicholson P3576 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNC Plt Off R George A Barclay V7600 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-C Plt Off R George A Barclay V7600 England 1940
A BRAVE British pilot’s secret diary of the Battle of Britain has been published - revealing the harrowing reality of life protecting our skies for the first time.
Hero George Barclay kept a day-to-day log of the conflict, against strict Ministry of Defence security rules. It tells how he flew Hurricanes and Spitfires and survived being shot down THREE times - which he humbly describes as a “most novel experience”.
And reveals how he crashed his plane without landing gear and escaped from occupied France by turning his uniform inside out. The diary is said to be the only one written by a pilot of either side. But it laid undiscovered for years until George’s death, when it was discovered by his family in a small parcel with his Distinguished Flying Cross. It has now been published with the help of George's younger brother Richard, 86, and historians who pieced together George’s unique story. Pilot George was just 20 when he was called up to fight against the Nazis in 1939 and trained as a fighter pilot. His diary was written on two exercise books filled with scraps of writing paper, with each page detailing his experiences and emotions as he fought for his country.
Secret ... diaries were banned by the Ministry of Defence
It finishes before the British and Americans secured victory as George was killed in action at the age of 22 as he commanded a Hurricane squadron at El Alamein. George, who studied at Trinity College at Cambridge University, was enjoying a shooting holiday in Scotland with his girlfriend’s family when war was declared in 1939. His first entry begins: “Yesterday evening we were told we were to move to North Weald, Essex, today to relieve the war-weary and much shot up 56 Squadron.”
It finishes with: “We grabbed beds in the hut and slept soundly, wondering what the morrow held in store”.
Just six days later, on September 7, George’s plane suffered a direct hit by a group of German Me109 planes, remarkably landing ’wheels up’ in a field near North Weald, where he was based. There were 12 British planes patrolling the skies over Maidstone, Kent, of which only seven returned. One pilot died, one was injured and three - including George - were wounded. George wrote: “The odds today have been unbelievable (and we are all really very shaken!). There are bombs and things falling around tonight and a terrific gun barrage. “Has a blitz begun?”
Tragic ... George was killed in action at the age of 22
George Barclay was shot down for the second time on November 29 at 22,000ft but chose not to open his parachute until he reached 2,000ft. He recorded the horrific incident: “I was shot down today - a most novel experience... “As I fell out and down on my back one of my boots fell off, apparently to me falling upwards as I left it behind.” George was shot down for a third time on September 20 1941 after being ’jumped’ by five 109s as he flew over France in a Spitfire. His diary ended on September 26, describing how he was given shelter by a French woman called Madame Salingue. It finished: “I was given a very friendly welcome. Immediately we arrived Madame cooked us two eggs and chips each. Apparently that is what the troops asked for before Dunkirk.” “Burbare had quite a large number of British troops billeted there and wherever I went I was shown photos of them. “The French liked them very much.” George's brother and father-of-four Richard, who lives in Minchinhampton, Glos., said his sibling’s diary was “vital” for understanding what pilots experienced in World War Two. He added: “It tells of squadron life and the numerous pressures and battles which demonstrate the extraordinary dedication and self-sacrifice of all the young men in the country.”
Historian Humphrey Wynn, who edited the book, said: “As a document, it is as important as a personal account of any other great battle such as the diary of an Elizabethan seaman in the Armada or one of Nelson’s officers at Trafalgar.” Battle of Britain Pilot The Self Portrait of an RAF Fighter Pilot and Escaper is published by Haynes and on sale now priced £25
Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4668411/pilots-secret-battle-of-britain-diary-revealed.html
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNC Flt Off H J S Beazley V6622 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-C Flt Off H J S Beazley V6622 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNC Plt Off R G A Barclay V7600 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-C Plt Off R G A Barclay V7600 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNT Percy Burton V6729 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-T Percy Burton V6729 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNF Plt Off T F Ginger Neil V7313 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-F Plt Off T F Ginger Neil V7313 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNG Flt Off K Lofts P3615 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-G Flt Off K Lofts P3615 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNH Plt Off Percy R F Burton V6683 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-H Plt Off P R F Burton V6683 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNJ Sqdrn Ldr J Grandy R4229 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-J Sqdrn Ldr J Grandy R4229 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNL Plt Off James R B Meaker P5206 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-L Plt Off J R B Meaker P5206 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNO Flt Off P H V Wells P3594 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-O Flt Off P H V Wells P3594 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNR Plt Off A G Lewis V6617 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-R Plt Off A G Lewis V6617 England 1940
Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GNY Flt Off R A Butch Barton P3579 England 1940
IL2 COD skin Profile: Hawker Hurricane MkI RAF 249Sqn GN-Y Flt Off R A Butch Barton P3579 England 1940
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There Was No Winner
HURRICANE VS. BF 110: A ROOF TOP RACE TO DISASTER
BY CLIVE ELLIS
Percy Burton was born in Cape Province, South Africa, in 1917, and in 1935 at age 18 he joined the South African Coast Garrison and Citizen Forces. His family emigrated to Britain a couple of years later, and Percy attended Christ Church College in Oxford. In 1938 he was chosen as the reserve coxswain for the Oxford rowing crew in the annual University Boat Race.
After his family had settled in England, Percy was described as 'the son of a prominent government minister', and although his family was always prepared to praise the glories of their South African homeland, the Burtons forcefully declared their historical British connection and considered themselves totally loyal subjects to King George VI. Although Percy appeared small and slight, he was also considered to be funny and adopted the traditional student tobacco pipe, which he had started after entering Oxford. While there, Burton also joined the University Air Squadron and learned to fly. At the time he was studying for a doctorate in The Theory of Law but things changed rapidly for him at the outbreak of WWII.
And so it Begins: Into the Air
In October 1939, Burton was called up for military service, and after being accepted into the RAF he was sent to the Flying Training School at Cranwell. He soon qualified as a pilot and flew Hurricanes with No.6 Operational Training Unit at Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire. Then just before the outbreak of the Battle of Britain, Burton was posted to No.249 Squadron at Church Fenton in North Yorkshire.
After making several uneventful patrols, on the evening of August 26, 1940, Burton had to make a forced landing in Hurricane P3660 at Tangmere in Sussex because of a damaged tail wheel. Fortunately, he was not injured in the emergency landing and after his aircraft was repaired it was sent back into service.
On Monday, September 2, 1940, things began to get more serious for Burton and his comrades of No.249 Squadron. During the early morning, he was one of ten Hurricanes scrambled from their base to intercept an oncoming flight of Luftwaffe bombers. Once airborne the squadron was ordered to turn towards Rochester in Kent and patrol at 15,000 feet. Then at 0800 hours some Dornier Do 17 bombers were sighted flying towards their target.
On this occasion Burton was flying as "Yellow Two" at the rear of the formation, and his combat report for this sortie is shown below:
The Official Word: First Blood
"I turned to look at my tail but had lost 'Yellow One', Flt. Lt. Parnall. I then spotted a straggler. I got on his tail and fired at his port engine from 300-250 yards, giving him several short bursts. He turned sharply to port and I then aimed at his cockpit, using deflection shooting, and I could see my ammunition hitting him. I then broke off as I was being attacked by some Bf 110s from behind and above. I evaded them and fired at one, which had overshot me, but without any visible result. I returned to the attack on the Dornier, aiming again at his port engine from astern at a distance of around 300-250 yards with two four-second bursts. Thick, black smoke came from his port engine and he started going down slowly-by this time he was well out of formation. I do not think he could have gotten back home. During the whole engagement I experienced intense return fire from the Dornier, coming apparently from four machine-guns firing simultaneously from the top rear of the cockpit. I was hit and glycol fumes filled the cockpit, followed by glycol fluid. As a result my engine cut out at 10,000 feet and I had to force-land at Meopham in Kent, in a field with my undercarriage up. I do not think my aircraft was very seriously damaged." The Hurricane was P3384, and the Messerschmitt Bf 110s were from II./ZG 26
Burton was flying as 'Red Two' between Gravesend and Folkestone in Kent. Flying Officer Beazley was leading the section when he spotted the enemy aircraft below flying about three miles ahead of their position, travelling south towards the coast to cross the English Channel back to France.
Flak began to burst into the air just before Beazley led Burton and Sergeant Charles 'Tich' Palliser into a diving attack flying out of the sun. Beazley delivered a quarter attack, which developed into a rear attack, from the starboard side of the bomber. He fired a five-second burst and was immediately followed by Burton and Palliser who also opened fire. Burton reported that he 'followed Red One', piloted by Beazley, giving a four-second burst from the starboard rear quarter, flying out of the sun. I allowed the enemy aircraft to fly into my fire and saw hits scored."
I experienced intense return fire from the hornier, coming apparently from four machine-guns firing simultaneously from the top rear of the cockpit.
Palliser also scored hits, firing two long bursts at the bomber. He noted that the Dornier's starboard engine was emitting white smoke before it dived into some cloud. The results of the action have remained inconclusive although the Dorni-er Do 17 was claimed as "badly damaged."
Then the Bf 110s Arrived
The following morning, September 27, the squadron was again scrambled into action. Burton took off from North Weald in Essex, flying Hurricane V6683 at around 0850 hours with eleven other Hurricanes. After making a rendezvous with aircraft of No.46 Squadron, No. 249 began to patrol Wickford, in the county of Essex before being redirected to the Maidstone area in Kent, where Luftwaffe activity had been reported.
At around 9.00 am No.249 Squadron found itself engaged in a furious dogfight over the Surrey/ Sussex border when attacked by two defensive circles of Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighter bombers of V./LG 1 (LG = Lehrgeschwader - Teaching Wing). Flight Lieutenant 'Butch' Barton led No.249 into a diving attack coming out of the sun that caused the Bf 110s to break up their flight, with individual combats forcing the Germans to return to their base.
Under pressure from the Hurricanes, which dove underneath the Bf 110 formation and then climbed up to attack the undersides of the Messerschmitts, the Germans had to break up and fly south toward the Channel. However, individual chases developed from a point in the Redhill/ Gatwick, Sussex area that fanned out towards the south coast between Eastbourne and Rye in Kent. Latching on to one of the Bf 110s, Percy Burton found himself in hot pursuit of a pilot who was obviously very experienced, and a low level 'hedge-hopping' pursuit resulted that lasted for a many minutes dodging land obstacles for much of the way.
Down to the Tree Tops
Although he was unaware of it at the time, Percy was engaged in a duel to the death with none other than the Gruppen Kommandeur of V./LG 1, 31 year-old Hauptmann Horst Liensberger piloting Bf 110 C-2 W.Nr. 3560 coded L1+XB which had four RAF victory roundels painted on the fin. As they passed over Mayfield in Sussex, locals marvelled at the brilliant airmanship of the two pilots as they lifted their aircraft up just enough to clear the roofs of houses and trees.
They were flying so low that trees could be seen swaying in the slipstream of the passing aircraft with empty cartridge cases clattering through the branches and pinging off the tarmac roads. Although firing doggedly, Liensberg-er's rear gunner, Unteroffizier Albert Kopge, had great difficulty in getting an accurate bead on his determined assailant as Liensberger continued to throw the Bf 110 into a series of evasive maneuvers. Diving into valleys and jinking around hills and obstacles, Liensberger kept on course for home, passing the smoking remains of other aircraft from V./LG 1 at Chelwood Gate, Dallington and Horam across Sussex—still with Percy Burton on his tail.
During the whole engagement Burton had vigorously continued to pursue the Bf 110 over a distance of about 40 miles, during which time witnesses on the ground watched in awe of their skill, as both pilots continued to lift their aircraft to clear houses and slide through valleys and dodge around hills and homes at rooftop height. All the while they exchanged gunfire and continued to discharge empty cartridge cases that rained upon the on-lookers.
A Desperate Move
Just north of Hailsham, Burton's guns ran out of ammunition. People in the town saw the two fighters pass over the rooftops, skim the gas works and pass each side of St. Mary's church spire, before continuing south toward a neighboring meadow. At that moment Burton was flying slightly above and behind the Bf 110, when he suddenly banked then dived into what appeared to be an attack. His Hurricane collided with the rear of the 110, slicing off the tail unit, which spun away. Both aircraft then lurched for a moment, hanging at 200 feet, then the Mess-erschmitt went down and hit the ground like a stone. So did Burton's port wingtip which dropped, causing the Hurricane to crash into a field closely followed by the remainder of the damaged enemy. The Messerschmitt crashed into Simmons Field between Mill Road and Station Road at Hailsham in Sussex. Both airmen in the Bf 110 were killed instantly upon impact.
Burton's Hurricane had veered away toward the other side of Station Road, crashing into a huge oak in Wellers field on New Barn Farm where it was left to burn out. The impact threw Burton clear, but as he was already seriously wounded by the gunfire he was killed instantly. He had fought a duel to the death and had made the ultimate sacrifice.
Eye-witness reports strongly indicated that Burton had deliberately rammed the Bf 110, in his final act of valor and that his body was said to be riddled with bullets. P/O Tich Palliser had also witnessed the collision and reported: "I saw his contortions, then I saw him straighten out and fly straight into the German aircraft. I was close enough to see his letters (squadron markings), as other pilots must have been who also confirmed the incident, which in itself caused me to realize that my young life and its future, if any, had jumped into another dimension." For recognition of this action, Percy Burton was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but much to the displeasure of his fellow pilots at North Weald he ended up only being "Mentioned in Dispatches."
When the squadron returned to North Weald, it claimed an impressive eight enemy aircraft destroyed and a further five probables. Surviving records show a trail of downed Bf 110s from LG 1 all in fairly close proximity at Oxted, Gatwick, Chelwood Gate, Heathfield Horam and Hailsham.
Actually, LG.1 lost seven Bf 110s to Nos. 249 and 46 Squadrons.
However, the victory did not come without a price as Flying Officer (P/O) Percy Burton, aged just twenty-three, had failed to return from the patrol.
Both sides paid a High Price
Surviving records from the 249 Squadron Operational Record Book shows that on September 27, three very successful sorties were carried out. "Our casualties were Pilot Officers Burton and Meaker, both killed. Although two of our most gallant comrades were lost, today was a glorious day in the history of the Squadron."
From reports later received it appears that (F/O) Meaker attacked a close formation of five Ju 88s on his own and his aircraft was completely shot up by the heavy cross fire.
Additionally, reports from the Hailsham district Observer Corps, indicate that F/O Burton had been attacking a Bf 110 for some time and was seen to climb above it and then dive down on it. He rammed it cutting off its tail causing both aircraft to crash. Pilot Officer A.G Lewis, DFC, of the Squadron on that day was credited with six aircraft and was subsequently awarded a bar to his DFC.
The RAF claims for that day were 153 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed. German records indicated losses to all causes ran between 42 and 55. F/O Percy Burton was buried in St. Andrew's churchyard, Tangmere in Sussex. Today, the shattered oak tree still remains and marks the spot where Percy died, and the site of where the main German Bf 110 wreckage fell is now a housing estate, which includes a road named Burton Walk in honor of the brave RAF pilot. One has to wonder how many who travel that road realize the price paid for it.
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