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Reminiscences of Erwin Burkitt-Jones

0M10/38th Entry 1938 to 1940

Initial Training

My father was an Apprentice who graduated from 0M10D 38th entry Oct 1940. He lives in Australia and is too old to travel for reunions etc. (82 this year 2002).

I have been compiling a research project on a former apprentice for a "This is your life" we had sketchy information at first until we used some of the contacts found here on this web site. Those investigations led to the full picture of the early days and beyond. The episode is in production along with a book.

I would like to thank Dennis Rolf and Des Greenwood who were a fantastic help in providing advice and information. Dennis Rolf (38th rep) provided us with a graduation photo (Oct 1940) and he is so chuffed. He was unaware that there was an Association, and very happy to know that so many old chums are still around. He loves the photo with it taking pride of place on the mantel.

The Story So far

Erwin Burkitt-Jones joined the RAF in 1938 as an Apprentice at RAF Halton, after ten days or so they moved to 1st WEM School RAF Cranwell. He was in 0M10D 38th Entry B Squadron No. 573878 (many thanks to Dennis), which passed out October 1940, achieving AC1 and being in the top two graduates; he recalls a fellow called Denton was the other. The top two were recommended for a commission and later flight training. All the boys who were over 18 were sent to the Middle East and Palestine. He was assigned signals with the US 98th Bomb Group.

After a year he was recalled to Cairo for return to England, and flight training at RAF Cranwell. He went on to qualify in four engine-heavies, and served in Lancs out of RAF Waddington with Bomber Command, completing two full tours DSO+bar, DFC+bar. He was wounded on mission 66, in the head and face by flak which damaged his eardrum, during the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, Jan 1945. The odds of survival for two tours in 1943/45 were not that flash, and an amazing feat of luck, skill, or just good fortune maybe all three combined. It must also be noted that he never lost a crew member on any missions, wounded or otherwise. He has many awards and citations which will be brought out later; of note was the bringing home of the damaged aircraft while badly wounded across the channel, at times at heights of 50 feet, and landing it in one piece. Also a stint flying with Guy Gibson of Dam Busters fame.

He moved to an OTU as an instructor till 1946 when his injury proved troublesome enough to force him out of the service, retiring as Squadron Leader. He migrated to Australia where he lives in retirement, and has just had his 82nd birthday.

For fifty years he never would talk about the war or his RAF past. It took me years to uncover what I know today. It really did affect him losing so many friends. Only in the last year or so have we managed to get him to open up over his days at Cranwell. He simply points out that he really enjoyed RAF Cranwell, that it was a stable environment, and everybody got on well. Most importantly you knew the lads and each day the same lads would be there. Following passing out and being sent to war it came as quite a shock that so many friends would be there one day and not the next, either shot down and captured, wounded or killed. He reminisces over the days at RAF Cranwell with fond memory. He also wishes all the ex-apprentices well, and many thanks to the Association for their help and assistance.

On a personal note I would like everybody who assisted me in my research from the Association. I hope to meet many of you during the up-and-coming England filming visit for the story.

Tim Burkitt-Jones Son

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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This page was last updated on 2nd February,2008