Thomas Oakley Burgess was born in the last quarter of 1919, and in the 1939 Register his parents, Thomas Henry and Bertha Emily Burgess, lived at 73 Church Road, Mitcham.
As Leading Aircraftsman, Thomas Oakley Burgess, service number 551290, he served with 12 Squadron R.A.F., and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1940.
BURGESS, Thomas Oakley. 551290 Leading Aircraftman, No. 12 Sqn. (Imediate)
L. G. 21/6/1940. Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. Air2/4097.
On 19th May 1940, L.A.C. Burgess was Wireless Operator/Air Gunner in Battle L.5536 of which
Pilot Officer J.J. McElligott was pilot and 580646 Sergeant B.C. Long was Observer. The aim on this mission was to bomb troops de-bussed in the area Mont Cormet – Neuf Chatel – Chateau Porcein – Ecly – Germaincourt – Fraillcourt. At 11.10 hours, the pilot had just dropped his bombs on the village of St. Fergeaux and was turning for home when the Battle was attacked by six Me.109’s about four miles South West of Ighel. They were engaged by the rear gunner and the Air Observer opened fire on three of them with the third gun as they passed underneath the Battle. The Me.109’s made further attacks and the rear gunner continued to engage them. By this time, the pilot had been severely wounded in the right shoulder and arm and the port tank was on fire, but he managed to bring the aircraft down about six miles South West of Juniville, an area occupied by the French. L.A.C. Burgess, who was admitted to hospital with shrapnel wounds, told Sergeant Long, the Air Observer, that he was sure he had shot down one Me.109. The crew were cared for by Lieutenant Cambourne of the 7th Demi Brigade, Cuirassee. Sergeant Long was interviewed late by a French Colonel at Neuf Lize who told him that it was certain that one Me.109 had been brought down and that he thought a second had crashed some distance away. This evidence has been confirmed through the French Mission. The pilot of the aircraft died of the wounds received in this action but the Air Observer was unhurt. It is considered that L.A.C.
Burgess showed a great courage in sticking to his gun, though probably already wounded, and
skill in disposing of one, and possibly two, of the enemy in the face of such superior odds.
2nd June, 1940.
Gloucester Citizen – Friday 21 June 1940
THREE AIRMEN OF TWENTY WIN D.F.M.
The exploits of three 20-years-old airmen who have been awarded the D.F.M. were described in an official announcement last night.
The men are Corporal James Anthony Drummond. of Salisbury; Leading Aircraftman Thomas Oakley Burgess, of Mitcham, Surrey; and Aircraftman 2nd Class Edward Joseph Evans, who was born at Ironside, Salop.
Corporal Drummond engaged a large formation Messerschmitt 109’s, shot down one and damaged others. Leading Aircraftman Burgess and Aircraftman Evans, both of whom are wireless operator-air gunners, also fought superior forces of Messerschmitts. Each brought down one and damaged others.
Burgess received shrapnel wounds. All three are described as having shown great courage and skill.
Squadron Leader Cyril Elton Kay, O.B.E., Royal New Zealand Air Force, has been awarded the D.F.C., was announced last night.
Squadron Leader Kay, in extremely difficult conditions and in face of heavy opposition, bombed and machine-gunned important targets in the forests south of Bourlers and Abileux in a night raid this month.
The announcement speaks of his daring, determination and outstanding ability.
As Sergeant he was a Wireless Operator and Air Gunner with 12 Squadron when he died on 7th July 1941, aged 21. His Wellington aircraft type II, number W5360, was shot down and crashed at Kervel-en-Guilers, France. All of the crew died.
Norwood News – Friday 26 September 1941
Mitcham D.F.M. Reported Killed
Sergt T. D. Burgess, R.A.F., Church-road, Mitcham, who was awarded the D.F.M. for bravery and who was decorated by the King in March, is now reported killed.
Note that his middle initial is given as ‘D’ instead of ‘O’.
Commonwealth War Grave Commission casualty record.