Pilot Officer George Leonard BURGESS

Service No: 423053
Born: Singleton NSW, 20 December 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 June 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Station Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB187), Germany, 12 March 1945, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. George Edward Burgess, of Forster, New South Wales, Australia; husband of Doreen Burgess, of Hyde Park, Doncaster
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Singleton War Memorial, Singleton NSW

On the 12 March 1945 an even more shattering blow was aimed at Dortmund. Conditions for the 1,100 bombers (20 from No. 460, 16 each from Nos. 463 and 466, 15 from No. 467) were practically the same with very few breaks in the sheet of low cloud covering western Europe, but with fine, clear and “surprisingly warm” weather above cloud (as some crews reported). Again an efficient fighter escort kept the Luftwaffe away from the bomber stream and again flak opposition was negligible. It was once more primarily an attack with high-explosive bombs, three out of every four aircraft carrying at least one 4,000-lb block buster in the average (Lancaster) bomb-load of 11,000 pounds. . The attack began at 4.30 p .m. with an aiming point in the south of Dortmund, but switched just before 5 p.m. to the centre of the city where high-explosive bombs were used to crater roads and railways and bring down on them those buildings still standing.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 423-4

Lancaster PB187 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1255 hours on 12 March 1945 to carry out a daylight raid on Dortmund, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 16 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Post war it was established that the aircraft had crashed at Duisberg-Meiderich and that six of the crew had been killed and one was Prisoner of War.

The crew members of PB187 were:

Sergeant Philip John Brown (2225786) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Derrick Bryant (418625) (Bomb Aimer)
Pilot Officer George Leonard Burgess (423053) (Pilot)
Sergeant Edmund Donald Grant (3012514) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) PoW
Sergeant Kenneth Grundy (1892367) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Sergeant Derek Arthur Little (1802929) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Peter Charles Sweetman (1398175) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) (An American serving in the RAF)

Sergeant Grant later reported “We turned on to the bombing run and when ready to release the bombs at 20,000 feet we were hit twice close to the nose. I do not know the extent of the damage being in the rear of the aircraft. The Skipper informed us that the Bomb Aimer was killed instantly and asked if any other crew was wounded. The Engineer said he was wounded and he fell unconscious on top of the forward escape hatch. The Skipper then asked the navigator for a course to the nearest emergency landing field in Allied hands about 20 minutes away. The Skipper asked the Mid Upper Gunner and WOP to see what they could do for the engineer, and also try and release the bombs. The Mid Upper Gunner went forward and found that bombs would not release. He then tried to put a parachute on the engineer and bale him out. The Skipper told the rest of the crew to come forward and bale out as soon as everything was clear. I came forward and could see the navigator destroying his maps and equipment while waiting his turn to jump. By this time I had no intercom. The WOP, who was on intercom, told me to go aft and jump from the rear exit. He followed me down. The Mid Upper Gunner was still trying to get the engineer out. I opened the rear escape hatch and baled out at about 5,000 feet, which was just above the tops of the cloud. I went straight into the cloud and when I came out of the cloud after opening my chute, I could not see or hear the plane and did not see it again. About one quarter of a mile away I saw another crew member going down pretty fast with a large rent in his chute. I never saw him again. I landed and estimated I was about 2 miles east of the Rhine near Duisberg. German guards took me prisoner. They told me that all the crew members were killed. I did not see them again. I was later liberated by Allied troops.”


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/6/1005
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

Book Now Book Now