Man who cre­ated on­line li­brary of war ex­pe­ri­ences laid to rest

Record­ings: He­roes’ ac­counts saved for­ever

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Camp­bell Thomas

The funeral of an air­man who gave a voice for un­sung he­roes of the Sec­ond World War has taken place.

Jack Burgess, 93, coaxed fel­low vet­er­ans into speak­ing about their mis­sions af­ter fear­ing their first-hand ac­counts could be lost for­ever.

A Kirk­caldy man, Mr Burgess turned count­less hours of of­ten har­row­ing in­ter­views and writ­ten ac­counts into three books and a mas­sive on­line li­brary.

In some cases, vet­er­ans were so trau­ma­tised by their ex­pe­ri­ences that even af­ter more than half a cen­tury, their fam­i­lies and loved ones were un­aware of the full truth.

Mr Burgess, who served as a flight en­gi­neer on RAF Lib­er­a­tor bombers in the Far East, flew the long­est flights of the war – in one case 23 hours and 30 min­utes over 3,800 miles. As a mem­ber of Force 136, he dropped agents and guer­rilla fight­ers hun­dreds of miles be­hind en­emy lines.

Mr Burgess, who died on Septem­ber 28, was pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer of the Scot­tish Saltire Air­crew As­so­ci­a­tion, which dis­banded in July.

Af­ter be­ing awarded the Bri­tish Em­pire Medal for ser­vices to mil­i­tary avi­a­tion in 2015, the for­mer war­rant of­fi­cer re­vealed that for many years he was un­able to talk about fight­ing the Ja­panese un­til he was with other air­men who un­der­stood.

Mr Burgess said: “Hope­fully, de­tails of what ac­tu­ally took place dur­ing their rel­a­tives’ fly­ing ser­vice has been a source of com­fort to sur­viv­ing fam­ily mem­bers, or those too young to un­der­stand the ter­ri­ble de­mands of war.”

Mr Burgess, who held the Burma Star with Pa­cific clasp, started off work­ing in a fac­tory but af­ter the war be­came a col­lege lec­turer, gained an hon­ours de­gree and raised four chil­dren with his late wife Mar­garet.

Mr Burgess’s funeral was held at Tem­ple­hall Church, Kirk­caldy, on Wed­nes­day.

Jack Burgess, cen­tre, at his BEM cer­e­mony with Fife Provost Jim Leish­man, left, and Lord Lieu­tenant of Fife Robert Bal­four.

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