December 7 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 28, 2013
The childhood sweetheart of an RAF sergeant from Fenland whose plane was shot down over Holland during the Second World War says she still thinks about him every day.
An appeal for information about Sgt Raymond Burrows was launched earlier this month after a historian discovered a grave in Holland he believes belongs to the former navigator.
Lucie Mary Gipson, 92, still fondly remembers Sgt Burrows and the four year relationship that ended amicably before the Second World War broke out.
Mrs Gipson of Knight’s End Road, March, saw the appeal for information in the Eastern Daily Press and says the article brought back a range of emotions.
She said: “The article revived many memories, bitter sweet I may say. There were a few tears.
“Ray and I were teenage sweethearts from 1935 to 1939 but our lives took very different paths and we made our farewells, a day I have never forgotten. “There’s not a day that goes past when I don’t think about him.
“He was such a lovely fella and he dressed very smartly.”
Sgt Burrows went off to fight for his country but went missing on March 25 1942 when the plane he was navigating was shot down by a night-fighter and crashed through the ice of the Ijsselmeer west of Makkum, Holland.
Mystery has surrounded his fate for more than 70 years but historian Bob Body believes he has identified his grave at a cemetery in Holland.
Mr Body hopes to trace a relative who would be willing to provide a DNA sample which could confirm the human remains belong to Sgt Burrows.
Mrs Gipson said: “If the grave does belong to Ray I want to acknowledge the fact and have flowers put on his resting place.”
Sgt Burrows, who was born in 1921 and attended March Grammar School between 1931-38, was the son of Benjamin and Rose-Ella Burrows, of Westwood Avenue, March.
Former March High School pupil Mrs Gipson cherishes the time they spent together.
She said: “We met at St Peter’s Sunday School when I was 14. We would cycle everywhere.
“He was at the Grammar School and I went to the High School. We loved to go to the school plays together.
“We went to church every Sunday morning and would always walk home the long way so we could spend more time together.
“I was an orphan. My dad died at 27 and my mum passed away at 45 so my grandmother brought me up.
“Ray’s mum and dad were always so welcoming to me and filled a big gap in my life. Unfortunately we lost touch after Ray and I separated and I think they moved away.”
A couple of years after they separated she married Jack Gipson, of March, who fought in the British Expeditionary Front in the Second World War and was evacuated from Dunkirk.
They lived together in March until Mr Gipson died 30 years ago. She has two children, three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
If you are a descendant of Sgt Burrows or have any relevant information please e-mail Mr Body at firstname.lastname@example.org
RAYMOND’S LAST MISSION
At 8pm on March 25 1942, Avro Manchester MkI L7390 of 106 Squadron set off from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to attack Essen.
The crew was Flight Lieutenant Robert Dunlop-Mackenzie, 23, wireless operator Flight Sergeant Wilfred Welham, 21, Pilot officer Peter Cann, 21, bomb aimer Sergeant Kimber Hill, 21, air gunners Sergeant William McDonald, 20, and Sergeant John Stewart, 31, and 21-year-old air observer Sergeant Raymond Burrows.
The plane was shot down by Oberleutnant Ludwig Becker. It crashed at 10.28pm and smashed through the ice of the Ijsselmeer in Holland.
In total, 254 RAF bombers took part in the Essen raid, which at that point in World War Two was the largest number sent out to attack one target.
The raid cost the RAF nine bombers with the loss of more than 40 crew members.