Dutch grave believed to belong to Fenland Second World War Sergeant

A grave which is thought to belong to Sgt Burrows.

A grave which is thought to belong to Sgt Burrows. - Credit: Archant

A historian believes he has uncovered the grave of an RAF sergeant from Fenland whose plane was shot down over Holland during the Second World War.

Bob Body thinks he has identified the grave of Sgt Raymond Benjamin Burrows, of 106 Squadron, at a cemetery in Holland.

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.

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.

Dutch authorities are willing to conduct a DNA comparison if a relative can be found.

Sgt Burrows 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.

A body was washed up at Makkum some weeks after the plane went missing, which Mr Body believes was Sgt Burrows.

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The body of Flight Lieutenant Dunlop-Mackenzie, who was part of the same crew, was washed ashore at Harlingen on May 7 1942.

Mr Body said: “It is the only plane that went missing in that area at that time.

“Also, the body was wearing a navigator’s watch. Sgt Burrows was the only Air Observer in the crew.

“If I found a relative willing to do a DNA swap we could get a comparison done and find out if it is indeed Sgt Burrows.

“That way, the family could get some closure.”

Mr Body’s uncle Flight Lieutenant Ian Menzies’ body was found a few hundred metres away from where Sgt Burrows was discovered.

He was declared missing presumed dead for 54 years but was eventually identified when his remains were found in a cockpit which was recovered from a lake.

He said: “On the night of July 5 1944 a Hudson aircraft piloted by my uncle Flight Lieutenant Ian Menzies failed to return from a mission.

“In 1985 I inherited Ian’s medals and set out to trace his career with the RAF and what he and his crew had been doing when reported missing.

“In 1997 the wreck of Ian’s aircraft was recovered from the Ijsselmeer, in Holland, and human remains were found in the cockpit.

“A positive ID was made in 1998 and in October that year Ian was laid to rest, with full military honours, alongside his crew which had been found drowned shortly after the aircraft went missing.

“I know what it’s like to finally get answers about what has happened to someone close to you. Hopefully Sgt Burrows family can get answers as well.”

If you are a descendant of Sgt Burrows or have any relevant information please e-mail Mr Body at bob.body@googlemail.com


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.

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