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Peter Stanley Burrow

Rank:SergeantNumber:947476
Ship/Rgn/Sqn No:108 Sqn RAFVR
Name of Rgt or Ship:Middle East Command
Died:12/09/1942Age:26
How Died:Lost at Sea
Country of burial:Egypt
Cemetery or Memorial:Alamein Memorial
Town Memorial:Not Listed
Extra Information:
Born: Mar Qtr 1915 - Bucklow R.D. - ref: 8a/307, the son of Charles Edward
& Katherine E. Burrow (nee Galvin).

On 1 August 1941, 108 Sqn was reformed at Kabrit, Egypt (just to the north
of Suez), as a night bomber Squadron. Its Wellingtons began bombing raids
on the 22 September, targets being ports on the Libyan coast and in Greece.
In November it began to receive Liberators and these supplemented the
Wellingtons until June 1942.

On the 13th July 1942, Sergeant Peter Burrow was one of the crew of
Wellington Bomber Mk.IC - No. DV553-P (for Papa).    The crew of only four
(normally when on Ops the Wellington had a crew of six) took off at 15.15
hours from Kabrit on a Ferry Operation to ferry the a/c to Aqir for an
engine change.  Wing damage caused by unauthorised low flying meant the a/c
flew port wing low.  The pilot made an error of judgement on landing and
collided with another Wellington Bomber Mk.IC - No. DV830 whilst it was
parked.    The pilot - Pilot Officer F. O'Donnell and Observer - Flying
Officer D.A. Pascoe were killed in the crash and are buried at Ramleh War
Cemetery.   Sergeant Peter Burrow, together with Flight Sergeant J.H. Bell
(RAAF) and their "passenger" - Leading Aircraftman S. Schlaichter were all
injured - I presume that their "passenger" was also being ferried to Aqir.

On the 19th August 1942, 108 Sqn flying Vickers Wellington 1C Bombers were
detailed to LG237 (Landing Ground 237) situated at Jebel Hamzi, west of
Cairo, Egpt.   Map ref: 18/34.    On the 18 December 1942 the Squadron was
reduced to a cadre which was disbanded on 25 December 1942.

On the 12th August 1942, Peter boarded the HMS Laconia that had just
disembarked over three thousand troops, their equipment and supplies at
Port Tewfik.  The ship was overloaded with approximately three thousand
people that included seriously wounded men, Italian prisoners of war, women
& children from various service and official backgrounds and last but not
least an alleged two hundred fifth columnists and low grade spies bound for
internment camps in South Africa. The ships lifeboat and raft capacity in
no way could accommodate all those onboard having just thirty two
lifeboats, forty big rafts and various other smaller ones.

She arrived in Durban on the 28th where she was to stay for three days;
further hospital cases were landed and more service and civilian personnel
embarked including one hundred and three Polish guards for the POW's,
although heavily armed the Poles were issued no ammunition. Laconia's last
port of call was Cape Town where even more service personnel boarded
bringing her final compliment to 463 Officers and crew, 286 passengers from
all three services, 1,793 Italian POW's, 103 Polish guards, and eighty
civilians - mostly women and children.

She left Cape Town on the 1st September and by the 11th September she was
out in the Atlantic, 550 miles south of Cape Palma heading straight towards
U-Boat U-156.   As the U-Boat neared the Laconia at 1800 hrs the Captain
was able to determine that she was sailing a zigzag course on a heading of
310°, their position was fixed at 5.0° south, 11.08° west.   As night
fell at 1955 hrs U-156 edged closer and the Captain could clearly see that
some of those onboard were clearly in breach of standing orders with
regards the blackout, light was emitting from more than one porthole.    At
2007 with tubes one and three ready the Captain ordered first number one
away and then twenty seconds later number three. 1,621 died while 1,104
survived the incident 

Peter Burrow was one of the many who went down with the ship.


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