I came across the story of Norman Burrows when reading Chastise, the story of the Dambusters raid, by Max Hastings. He recounts one of the low-level training flights made by the Lancaster commanded by Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay: “As their bomb smashed into the waves, a rising mass of water struck the Lancaster, ‘like a gigantic fist’, inflicting serious damage on the tail, lower fuselage and elevators, and drenching the rear-gunner, carter’s son Norman Burrows, fortunately a resilient young man from Liverpool’s tough Toxteth district”.
Norman Burrows flew with Maudslay on the raid on the Eder dam on the night of 16th-17th May 1943. They dropped their ‘bouncing bomb’ but it overshot the target and caused considerable damage to their aircraft. Struggling to return to England the Lancaster, Z-Zebra call sign, was shot down near Emmerich on the Dutch-German border with all the crew being killed. They were initially buried in Dusseldorf but were reinterred after the war in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
Trying to find out a little more about Burrows I was surprised to find no reference to him in the local press, a search revealing solely the death notice placed in the Liverpool Echo by his family. As Hastings mentions, he was indeed born in Toxteth, the son of Norman Rupert Burrows Snr. and his wife Jane Polly (née Jones). The family lived at 18 Pecksniff Street L8 (now demolished) but by the time Norman joined the RAF in June 1941 they had moved to the leafy suburb of Allerton and a pleasant semi at 15 Storrsdale Road L18. Records show that in 1939 Norman’s occupation was ‘silk stocking machinist’, very likely at the Bear Brand factory in Woolton.
After joining the RAF and training as a gunner, in late September 1942 he was posted to 50 Squadron at Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire. His first flight with Maudslay was in January 1943 in a raid on Dusseldorf. With the rest of the crew he was transferred to 617 Squadron, the newly-formed ‘Dambusters’ on 27th March 1943.
Norman Burrows' home at the time he enlisted in the RAF in 1942.
Family notice in the Liverpool Echo 20th August 1943.
Norman Burrows' grave at the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery
The only online reference to Norman Burrows I have found is on the Dambustersblog website written by Charles Foster who is the nephew of Dambusters pilot David Maltby. His details are shown on the Commonwealth War Graves website. As referenced above he is mentioned in Max Hastings' book Chastise [William Collins 2019] p.146.
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