Flg Off P S Burgess
Lancaster serial number: ED927/G
Call sign: AJ-E
Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Philip Sidney Burgess was born in Portsmouth in August 1922. Both his parents died when he was very young, so at the age of four he and his brother were adopted by the Rowland family in Folkestone, Kent. The Rowlands were well known in the town as they ran a popular rock and sweet shop. Burgess was educated at the town’s Harvey Grammar School.
He volunteered for the RAF soon after his 18th birthday, and undertook part of his training in Canada.
He was commissioned in May 1942, and after further training was promoted to Flying Officer shortly before being posted to 61 Squadron in January 1943, a few months after he turned 20. He then became the regular navigator on a crew captained by the New Zealander Ian Woodward, in which the wireless operator was Charlie Williams.
By the end of March he had completed 17 operations. However, his captain Ian Woodward had completed his tour so both he and Williams agreed to join the crew being put together by Norman Barlow which would transfer to 617 Squadron for the planned secret mission.
Despite the six weeks of low level training, Norman Barlow, Philip Burgess and the rest of the crew were all killed instantly when they hit a pylon just outside Haldern, Germany.
After their parents’ death, Philip Burgess and his brother were adopted by the Rowland family of Folkestone. They ran this Rock Shop, well remembered by many generations of people from the town. [Pic: Alan Taylor]
Yet to turn 21, Philip Burgess was probably the youngest officer to take part in the Dams Raid. He was buried with his comrades in Dusseldorf Cemetery, and reinterred after the war in Reichswald Forest Cemetery. His brother, Carrol Burgess, served in the Royal Engineers and survived the war.
Thanks to Susan Paxton and Alan Wells for help with the entries for all the Barlow crew.
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Eric Fry, An Airman Far Away, Kangaroo Press 1993
The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.