Flight Lieutenant Bernard BURNLEY DFC

Service No: 407097
Born: Gladstone SA, 1 January 1911
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 May 1940
Unit: No. 11 Squadron (RAF), Feni, Bangladesh
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 18 January 1944 (Citation Title: No. 11 Squadron (RAF))
Died: Air Operations (No. 11 Squadron Blenheim aircraft Z7912), Burma (Myanmar), 1 June 1943, Aged 32 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Theodore and Ruth Eliza Burnley.
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Column 429, Singapore Memorial, Singapore
Remembered: Panel 124, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

DFC Citation: Flight Lieutenant Burnley took part as air gunner in operational sorties in the Western Desert, Ceylon and Burma. He also completed the duties of Squadron Gunnery Leader with diligence and efficiency. His steadiness and reliability made him a source of confidence to the whole Squadron and, on several occasions, when attacked by fighters, his directions made it possible for his pilot to avoid the enemy and lead the formation to attack the enemy target. His work was outstanding for steadiness and consistent keenness and he invariably displayed courage and devotion to duty.

Blenheim Z7912 of 11 Squadron led a formation of two other aircraft on 1 June 1943 to bomb Kalemyo, Burma. During the bombing run at approximately 0901 hours the starboard propeller of Z 7912 was seen to fall off by the pilots in the other aircraft in formation, who followed the aircraft down to the Manipur river. The pilot of No 2 in the formation called Z7912 on the radio and Z7912 replied that he was going to follow Manipur River. The aircraft was seen to jettison bombs and gradually lose height after turning away. The pilot of No 2 aircraft later saw wreckage of what was assumed to be an aircraft in the Manipur River 26 miles north east of Haka approx 22.42N, 94.00E, with fire still issuing from only the wing tip above the water. Signs of a crash landing were seen on a sand bar but no sign of the crew. It was later established that the aircraft crashed at Kabani Sakan at 22.48N 93.58E, with no graves or bodies located after a search.

The crew members of Z7912 were:

Flight Lieutenant Bernard Burnley DFC (407097) (Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Robert John Ingram DFC (400369) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Wing Commander Alan William Pennington-Leigh (37687) (RAFVR) (Pilot)


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, 166/6/166

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