BURLING, Albert James

No.1877098, Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner), Albert James BURLING
Aged 20

358 Squadron R.A.F., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed on Active Service on Tuesday, 1st May 1945

Alere flammam (To feed the flame)

Albert James Burling was born in 1925 (Newmarket Q2-1925 3B:734), son of Albert Edward and Anne R.E. BURLING (née WEBB).
His parents' address was later given as Cross Green, Suffolk, which is on the Stetchworth Road end of Dullingham Ley

In the 1939 register the family were at Park Farm Cottages, Stetchworth. Father [28-5-1899] yardman in racing stables. mother [31-3-1903] and sister Esme J [27-9-1926 (later HOWLETT). There s one closed record.

photo from www.ellesmeregardenclub.wixsite.com

After moving to Digri in Bengal in January 1945, 358 squadron flew its first bombing mission on 13 January, when eight aircraft bombed Mandalay. This however, proved to be the only bombing operation flown, as the squadron was then allotted to Special Duties. These consisted of dropping agents and supplies into enemy occupied territory. Moved to Jessore (Bengal) in February 1945, call sign 'N'.

From RAF Form 540:
RAF Jessore 1st May 1945, Aircraft Liberator VI, KH312, returning from operations was ditched at approx 00:29 at map ref 1838N 9330 E. Captain signalled position and also that he had only 2 engines when off Cheroba ? Island. Light moon. Message received about 11:00 that a Catalina aircraft had put down on sea by a dinghy with five survivors. No further news of missing four. Crew of nine consisted of;
Captain: F/Lt R W Robinson (51159); 2nd pilot: F/O R A Carter (RAAF 29296); Nav: F/O W H Bull (165575); Bomb Aimer: Sgt A J Sherwood (1583263); 1 W.Op: F/O L C Bartlett (1656606); 2 W.Op: Sgt E M? A Andrews (1357596); Air Gunr: Sgt T F Clarke (636459); Air Gunr:Sgt A Burling (1877098); Air Gunr: F/Sgt R Bell (15?95905)
Later information was that a further two survivors were picked up.
5th May 1945 Operations: Information received from HQ 346 Wing Akyab that F/Sgt Bell and Sgts Andrews and Sherwood were at 125 General Hospital but no information as to their condition.
HQ 902 Wing, Ramree notified us that after a successful drop, No.1 engine failed with No 4 running rough, subsequently failing too. Crew ordered to ditching stations off Cheduba Island owing to rapid loss of height. Aircraft hit waste (waves?) with savage impact, nose smashed in and aircraft broke up rapidly. Survivors swam ashore and were later picked up by a Catalina and ASR Launch, 902 Wing any further survivors extremely unlikely.
HQ 905? Wing signalled for particulars of F/O Carter who was apparently admitted to 95 I.G.H on May 1st 1945 suffering from multiple injuries.
From these miscellaneous signals it is deduced that F/Lt Robinson, F/O Bull, F/O Bartlett, Sgt Clarke and gt Burling are either killed or missing, with F/O Carter, F/Sgt Bell and Sgts Sherwood and Andrews in hospital. 6th May Confirmation received from Advanced HQ 902 Wing that Sgt A Burling had been killed in the ditching of KH-312 on 1st May and had been buried at Cheduba, also that F/O Carter had died in No 95 I.G.H. at 03:50 on May 2nd and was interred in the military cemetery Akyab on May 2nd. HQ 203 Wing notify F'O Bartlett safe and comfortable at No 95 I.G.H. Akyab.
7th May 1945: Sgt Andrews, F/Sgt Bell arrived on the squadron. Position now
Safe - Sgt Andrews, Sgt Sherwood (Injured), F/Sgt Bell, F/O Bartlett (Injured)
Died- F.O Carter and Sgt Burling
Missing, believed killed- F/Lt Robinson, F/O Bull and Sgt Clarke

In a Court of Inquiry into the accident set up by RAF Station Jessore, the Court found that “The cause of the accident was threefold :
- Failure of the No 1 engine for causes unknown.
- Failure of the No 4 engine apparently from bearing failure.
- The fact that the crew were not aware of the night landing facilities at Kyan and the fact that K type dinghies were not carried on the aircraft. This was considered to be responsible for one if not three deaths.
No blame can be attributed to any person for the engines failures.”

Akyab War Cemetery was closed as permanent maintenance was no longer possible, and Albert was exhumed and re-interred in Taukkyan on 3rd June 1952

photo from asiawargraves.com

photo; Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Albert Burling is buried in Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar - grave 12:E:17

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details