Flight Lieutenant Owen Valentine Burns was a air gunner on Bristol Blenheims during the Britain of Britain.
Born in 1915, Burns volunteered for the RAF at the beginning of October 1939. He became an air gunner and in May 1940 was posted to 235 Squadron at Bircham Newton in Norfolk, which was part of Coastal Command and was equipped with Bristol Blenheims.
235 Squadron was assigned to Fighter Command to replace losses during the Battle for France. Burns flew with 235 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain, either from the Squadron’s base or on detachment at St Eval in Cornwall or Thorney Island near Portsmouth.
Because the Bristol Blenheim lacked the speed of single-engined fighters, Squadron duties were mainly aerodrome protection and fighter escort to aircraft crossing the Channel.
Returning from a dusk patrol over the North Sea on 14 February 1941, Burns was caught in an enemy raid. The aircraft crashed on landing as the flare path had been extinguished. The navigator was killed and the pilot spent a year in hospital, but he escaped with a broken collar bone.
He was later with 279 Squadron, and was commissioned in 1943. In January 1945 he was appointed Gunnery Officer for 19 Group, Plymouth and a month later he became PA to AOC, AVM CBS Spackman. Burns left the RAF in 1949.
Owen Burns was a great supporter of the creation of the Museum at Bentley Priory.
The photograph shows Burns with fellow Battle of Britain Veteran William Walker at Bentley Priory, during the restoration works.