LEST WE FORGET

Lieutenant William Wallace Allison BURN MID

From Australia serving the New Zealand Army

Service No: Not Assigned
Born: Gippsland VIC, 17 July 1890
Enlisted in the NZ Army: Date unavailable
Unit: NZ Staff Headquarters attached to the RFC and serving with No. 30 Squadron RFC
Awarded the Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
Died: Air Operations (Half Flight Caudron aircraft), Iraq, 30 July 1915, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Mrs. Isabel Matilda Burn, of Christchurch, New Zealand
Remembered: Addenda Panel, Basra Memorial, Basra, Iraq

Merz (Pilot) and Burn (Observer) were never seen again.  According to reports of Arab eye-witnesses, their machine descended in the desert about twenty miles from the refilling station at Abu Salibiq, midway between Basra and Nasiriyeh. They were immediately attacked by a number of well-armed Arabs, and, recognising that they could not defend their machine – which, like all aeroplanes in Mesopotamia at that time, carried no machine-gun – they retreated in the direction of Abu Salibiq.  The two airmen had no weapons but revolvers, and after a running fight of about five miles, during which they killed one and wounded five of their adversaries, one of the officers was wounded, and his comrade died fighting beside him.  Such was the story told by friendly Arabs.  Search parties were sent out from Abu Salibiq and Basra, but no trace of the missing airmen was ever found, though the machine, hacked to matchwood, was discovered by Reilly (1) when on special reconnaissance a few days later.

(1) Group Captain Hugh Lambert Reilly DSO (RAF, previously Indian Army) of Bedford, England, born Takapau. Hawkes Bay, NZ, 18 October 1886

Extract from Cutlack, F.M. (Frederic Morley) The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914-8, Angus and Robertson Ltd Sydney, 1941 – Page 10, Footnotes Page 3

References:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records

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