Warrant Officer John Benjamin BURROWS

Service No: 400317
Born: Coburg VIC, 11 July 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 August 1940
Unit: No. 297 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 297 Squadron Whitley aircraft BD554), Hampshire, 5 April 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Cannock Cemetery, Staffordshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alexander and Ada Frances Burrows, of Middle Brighton, Victoria, Australia; husband of Marjorie Ruth Burrows, of The Canonry, Salisbury, England
Roll of Honour: Melbourne VIC
Remembered: Panel 119, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 5 April 1943, Whitley BD554 crashed at Weyhill Railway station during an operational night flying Nickel (pamphlet dropping) sortie. Two of the crew members were killed and the others injured.

The crew members of DBV554 were:

Pilot Officer D A Brooks (128963) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner) Injured
Flying Officer B Bullivant (115673) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator) Injured
Warrant Officer John Benjamin Burrows (400317) (Navigator)
Lieutenant D W H Dickson (112927) (British Army) Injured
Flying Officer Louis Andrew Sproule (116629) (RAFVR) (Pilot)

A Flying Accident report stated that: “the aircraft was returning from an operational flight at which intense flak was encountered and caused the Pilot to suspect the fuel system had been damaged. Owing to fog the aircraft was diverted on the way home, but the Pilot considered he could not with safety make the diversion and decided to try and land at base using the beam. In making the final approach he apparently allowed the aircraft to get too low with the result that the aircraft hit the ground about one mile short of the aerodrome. The Mk11 airfield lighting was used; rockets and verey lights were fired. Fatigue, mental stress and fog conditions were factors in the accident. The Commanding Officer of No. 297 Squadron stated: “it seems clear to me that the Pilot was probably suffering from fatigue and mental stress when he considered that it would be safer to attempt a landing at his own drome than risk running out of petrol making the diversion. In making a blind approach on the beacon he hit the ground directly in line with, but a mile short of the runway. The aircraft was a total wreck and no information can be gleaned regards the fuel shortage. Both engines were thrown out on the impact of the crash so the amount of petrol left in the aircraft cannot be ascertained.”


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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/6/94

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