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Air Commodore W J Burnett (40076)


Wilfred Jasper              b: 8 Nov 1915             r: 21 May 1968                       d: 26 Nov 2006

OBE 14 Jun 1960, DSO 23 Mar 1945, DFC 22 Oct 1940, AFC 2 Jan 1956, MiD - 8 Jun 1944, MiD -xx xxx 1956, MiD 23 Jan 1968, CdeG (P) xx xxx xxxx.

For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here

Act Plt Off (P): 5 Sep 1937, Plt Off: 12 Jul 1938, Fg Off: 12 Jan 1940, Act Flt Lt: xx xxx 1940, Flt Lt (WS): 12  Jan 1941, Act Sqn Ldr: xx xxx 1941 (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Mar 1942, Act Wg Cdr: xx May 1944, Wg Cdr (WS): 20 Aug 1943, Sqn Ldr: 17 Mar 1947 [1 Sep 1945], Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1951, Act Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1957?, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1957, Act A/Cdre: 28 Jan 1962, A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1963.

xx xxx xxxx:                           Trooper New Brunswick Dragoons

 5 Sep 1937:                            Appointed to a Short Service Commission

 7 Mar 1938:                            Staff, No 1 Electrical & Wireless School.

 7  May 1938:                          Staff, No 26 Maintenance Unit

xx xx xxxx::                              U/T Pilot.

xx xxx xxxx:                             Pilot, No 76 Sqn (Hampdens - Finningley)

 2 Nov 1939:                           Attached, No 106 Sqn for operational training (pending posting)

xx xxx 1939:                            Pilot, No 49 Sqn (Hampdens)

26 Sep 1940:                           Instructor, No 14 OTU

xx xxx 1941:                            Flight Commander, A Flt No 408 Sqn.

12 Jul 1941:                             Transferred to the reserve and recalled for service

 4 Jan 1942:                             Flight Commander, C Flt, No 408 Sqn.

16 Jan 1942:                            Recuperating

19 May 1943:                          Air Staff, HQ No 3 Group

xx May 1944:                          Officer Commanding, No 138 Sqn. (Halifax/Stirling)

 8 Nov 1944:                           Air Staff, HQ Bomber Command.

xx xxx xxxx:                             Seconded to BOAC

xx xxx xxxx:                             Staff Officer, RAF Palestine

17 Mar 1947:                          Appointed to Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time)

xx xxx xxxx:                             Member, RAF Mission to Greece.

xx xxx xxxx:                             CFI, No ? FTS

xx xxx xxxx:                             Officer Commanding, Flying Wing, RAF Flying College

 1 Jul 1956:                              Officer Commanding, No 148 Sqn.

 1 Jan 1957:                             Group Captain - Training, HQ Bomber Command.

xx xxx 1959:                            Officer Commanding, RAF Marham.

28 Jan 1962:                            Air Adviser to the UK High Commissioner, India.

26 Sep 1963:                           Director of Quartering.

17 Oct 1966:                           AOA, HQ Air Forces Middle East.

Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick and educated at Fort Francis High School, Ontario, he later worked on a dairy farm and joined the New Brunswick Dragoons as a trooper.  During this period he learnt to fly on a De Havilland Moth, fitted with skis and then worked his passage to the UK, where he joined the RAF on a Short Service Commission in 1937.

Returning from Hamburg in Hampden AE393, EQ-G in the early hours of 16 January 1942 he encountered bad weather and missing  his base at Balderton, crashed into the Yorkshire Dales at Dalefoot about 20 miles south-west of RAF Leeming.  Two of the crew were thrown from the aircraft on impact but Burnett and Flight Sergeant Bunting, the observer, were found alive although seriously injured but before medical assistance arrived, Bunting had died.  Burnett was taken down to a farm house and given medical treatment before being transferred to Catterick Garrison Hospital.

After the war he flew flying boats with BOAC to the Far East and on one occasion he was forced to divert to Hainan Island, then in Communist hands, where he found a supply of abandoned American fuel.  He then spent three days transferring fuel into his aircraft used a felt hat as a filter and a saucepan.

Officially forming No 148 Squadron on 1 July 1956 at Marham, it was to be 25 days before he took his crew to the Vickers factory at Wisley to collect the first Valiant B1 for his squadron.  However, before becoming fully worked up, he found himself leading his squadron into action during the Suez campaign, operating from Malta against targets in Egypt.

At  Manby, he took part in navigational flights over the North Pole.  In Aden his skills were utilised in planning the withdrawal from the region the following year.  In retirement he became Secretary to the Unit Trust Association and in 1980 was was awarded the OBE for his work with this organisation.  He indulged in his passions of fly fishing on the Itchen, photography and woodworking, particularly producing Tunbridgeware.

Recommendation and Citation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"BURNETT, F/O Wilfred Jasper (40076) - No.49 Squadron

This officer has carried out a total of 32 operational flights against the enemy during which he has completed 187 hours of flying as a first pilot.  Throughout these operations Flying Officer Burnett has shown outstanding ability, determination and devotion to duty, and has always pressed home his attacks in spite of enemy opposition.

He has carried out numerous mining operations and bombing attacks, both from low and high level, and in spite of his aircraft being hit on many occasions all his attacks have been notable for their thoroughness, coolness and complete disregard for personal safety.

This officer is always an enthusiastic volunteer for any task that is offered to him, and he has at all times set an excellent example to other pilots in his squadron."

(Recommendation dated 28 August 1940)

On 30 August 1940, Air Vice-Marshall A T Harris (Air Officer Commanding, No.5 Group) minuted the document:

"Strongly recommended. This officer is a fine type of bomber captain who does consistently excellent work."

This was edited to a citation submitted to Air Ministry Awards Committee:

"This officer, as first pilot, has carried out 32 operational flights including numerous bombing attacks from high and low levels, and in spite of his aircraft being hit on many occasions all his attacks have been notable for their thoroughness and coolness. This officer is always an enthusiastic volunteer for any task offered him and by his outstanding ability, determination and devotion to duty he has at all times set an excellent example to other pilots in his squadron."

(Source -Air 2/9489 )

Citation for the award of the Distinguished Service Order

"BURNETT, W/C Wilfred Jasper, DFC (40076) - No.138 Squadron.

This officer has commanded his squadron with outstanding success for a considerable period.  During this time, the squadron has been engaged in intensive operations, complicated by a re-arming programme which was smoothly and expeditiously accomplished.   In addition to proving himself an efficient and capable commander, Wing Commander Burnett has, at all times, displayed keenness to fly on operations, irrespective of the hazards involved.  On several occasions he has had combats with enemy fighters.  His courage and determination have always been an inspiration to those under his command.  He has carried out many special operations of a difficult nature."

(Source - Air 2/9053, drafted when he had flown 62 sorties (384 hours) of which 26 sorties (167 hours) had been since his previous award)

Recommendation for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross (not awarded)

For services as an Acting Squadron Leader with No.408 Squadron; credited with 44 sorties (264 operational hours).

"This officer has flown a total number of 44 sortie on operations involving some 264 hours flying. He has flown eight sorties involving some 44 hours flying since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was posted to No.408 Squadron (RCAF) in July of last year. Details of the sorties flown by him since that date are shown on the reverse of this form.  Unfortunately this officer crashed returning from his last sortie and was injured.

On all occasions this officer has shown great determination and leadership.  This has been directly responsible for the successful results he has obtained. In particular, on the 17th and 21st September, 1941, he led a sub-formation of three Hampdens on daylight raids over northern France, one on Marquise and one on Lille respectively. The raid on Lille was most successful. Although he encountered heavy flak and fighter opposition, this officer kept his section in perfect formation and returned without loss. At all times he has set a fine example by his courage and devotion to duty to the personnel of his flight.

This officer is a Canadian serving with the Royal Air Force."

This was edited and and submitted as follows: -

"Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, this officer has carried out eight sorties involving some 44 hours flying. On all occasions Squadron Leader Burnett has displayed great determination and leadership.  In particular, on the 17th and 21st September 1941, he led a sub-formation of three Hampdens on daylight raids on Marquise and on Lille. The raid on Lille was most successful. Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire and fighter opposition, Squadron Leader Burnett kept his section in perfect formation and returned without loss. Other targets attacked since August 1941 include Hanover, Mannheim, Hamburg, Brest and Lorient. This officer has at all times set a fine example of courage and devotion to duty."

(Source - Air 2/9262 dated 27 January 1942)

Recommendation for the award of the French Croix de Guerre

Recommendation dated 20 September 1944 for a French Croix de Guerre in connection with No.138 Squadron activities.

"As a Squadron Commander over a period of five months, this officer has completed twelve operations of a special nature in France.

His determination and skill have undoubtedly set an example which has been emulated by other members of his squadron. He has played no small part in contributing to the war effort in France, and has inspired his whole squadron by his good leadership and the fin example he has set."

(Source - Air 2/8769)

This page was last updated on 04/07/23

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