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Joseph Luke Burns

Military

Joseph Burns was Engineer on board B-17 #42-39840 on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen and Leverkusen, Germany. Severely damaged by Flak and thinking the plane was lost, Burns and five other crew members bailed out and landed near Alken, Belgium. Unaware of this, Charles F. Hess gave the order to bail out. Hearing nothing from the men in the middle and back sections of the plane, it was discovered they weren't on board anymore. As Co-Pilot John W. Mitchell couldn't find his parachute, the three other men decided to stay on board the plane as long as possible. Throwing equipment, guns, etc. overboard, the lightened plane was safely flown back to England and landed at the RAF Manston air base. Joseph Burns was one of the five men who initially evaded and were captured. Only gunner Raymond Nield managed to successfully evade. See Joseph Burn's story of evasion and capture at http://www.evasioncomete.be/fburnsjl.html

In Memoriam

A donation has been made to the American Air Museum in Britain in memory of Joseph Luke Burns by Mary C Burns Surdy, his daughter, with the following memorial message: In memory of my father, Joseph Luke Burns, who served in the USAAF in WWII and flew out of Peterborough, England.

A memorial donation has also been made by Benjamin D Schulman, a WWII Navy Veteran.

Service

People

  • Mark Bauer

    Military | Corporal | Ball Turret gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Mark Bauer was Ball Turret gunner on B-17 Serial 42-39840, hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen, Germany. Evaded capture for 10 days before he was arrested. See the story of his evasion and capture at https://www...

  • Charles Bryant

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 401st Bomb Group
    Charles Bryant was Navigator on B-17 Serial 42-39840, hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen, Germany. Aircraft flown back to base. Returned to Duty (RTD). Six members of the crew baled out over Belgium. See their individual...

  • James Gibson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    James Gibson was Left Waist Gunner on B-17 Serial 42-39840, hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen, Germany. Baled out; aircraft flown back to base. Evaded capture for 10 days before he was arrested. See the story of his...

  • Charles Hess

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
    Completed 25 bombing mission as a Pilot with the 401st Bomb Group between 26-Nov-43 and 12-Jun-44. He was Pilot of B-17 42-39840, hit by Flak on the 1-Dec-943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen, Germany. Six crew members baled out (1 of them managed to...

  • Ruben Miller

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Ruben Miller was Right Waist gunner on B-17 Serial 42-39840, hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen, Germany. Baled out; aircraft flown back to base. Evaded capture for 10 days before he was arrested. See the story of his...

  • John Mitchell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
    John Mitchell was Co-Pilot of B-17 #42-39840 "The Lopin' Lobo", hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen. The Fortress was flown back to England, but six men had baled out over Belgium (see their pages at www.evasioncomete.be >...

  • Raymond Nield

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Raymond Nield was Right Waist gunner on B-17 Serial 42-39840, hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen, Germany. Aircraft returned to base. Baled out and evaded capture. Was back in the UK on 6 February 1944. See the story of...

  • Robert Rowe

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 401st Bomb Group
    Robert Rowe was Bombardier of B-17 #42-39840 "The Lopin' Lobo", hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen. The Fortress was flown back to England, but six men had baled out over Belgium (see their pages at www.evasioncomete.be >...

  • Irving Tatkin

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 401st Bomb Group
    Irving Tatkin was Radio Operator on B-17 Serial 42-39840 "The Lopin' Lobo", hit by Flak on the 1 December 1943 mission to Solingen/Leverkusen, Germany. Baled out; aircraft flown back to base. Evaded capture until he was arrested in February 1944. See...

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Units served with

  • 401st Bomb Group

    401st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...

  • 613th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 42-39840 The Lopin' Lobo

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 17/9/43; Scott 3/10/43; Assigned 613BS/401BG [IN-A] Deenethoprpe 13/10/43; transferred AFSC 6/6/44 as development and test aircraft and designated XB-17G; Returned to the USA, used by US Navy from 20/11/45; 4148 BU Bedford 30/1/46;...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 145

    1 December 1943
    This mission was directed at the industrial areas of Leverkusen and Solingen, Germany. The mission is composed of two elements. The first element is a combined force of 221 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division that included: 91BG (27); 92BG (18); 303BG (17);...

Associated Place

  • Deenethorpe

    Military site : airfield
    Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania 2 February 1923

The son of Joseph and Marie Burns

Lived in Wilkes Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania 1930 – 1942
Enlisted Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania 10 October 1942

as a Private in the Air Corps

bailed out 1 December 1943

over Belgium, from Flak-damaged B-17 42-39840

evaded capture 1 December 1943 – 11 December 1943

with the help of Belgian citizens and members of the Résistance and the Comète evasion network

arrested 11 December 1943

in Keerbergen, Belgium

Prisoner of War (POW) 11 December 1943 – May 1945

Interned at Stalag Luft 4, Gross Tychow (Tychowo), Poland, then force-marched to other camps and liberated. NARA WWII POW records : "Returned to Military Control 12 July 1945."

Buried East Hanover, Morris County, New Jersey 1997

Gate of Heaven Cemetery

Died Scottsdale, Arizona 22 November 1997

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
05 June 2021 09:16:21 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

Updated website address in Bio

Date Contributor Update
13 May 2021 20:36:31 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Added punctuation in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
17 January 2020 02:41:55 jmoore43 Changes to events
Sources

Upated location for Birth, Lived in, Died, Buried & Enlisted events.

Date Contributor Update
26 April 2019 10:16:01 ED-BB Changes to service number, role, biography, events, person associations, unit associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

NARA WWII Enlistment records
NARA WWII POW records
WWII Draft Card
US Census 1930
Correspondence and meetings with daughter Mary Burns Surdy
Research for Joseph Burns' page at http://www.evasioncomete.org/fburnsjl.html

Date Contributor Update
16 June 2015 11:05:43 PhillWray Changes to memoriam
Sources

Memorial messages added from correspondence with his daughter.

Date Contributor Update
16 June 2015 11:01:56 PhillWray Changes to middlename
Sources

Middle name added from correspondence with his daughter.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:17:23 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / http://www.401bg.org/Main/History/Members/Details.aspx?ID=481

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