SGT. A.R. CAMBURN
FIRST NAMES: Alec Reginald
RANK: Sergeant Pilot
UNIT: 77 Squadron RAF
DOB:1st January 1923
OCCUPATION: Shop Assistant
STATUS: Killed in Action
DATE OF DEATH: 1st May 1943
WHERE BURIED: Appeldoorn, Holland
MEDALS: 1939-45 Star, Aircrew Europe Star, Defence Medal, Victory Medal.
Alec Reginald Camburn was born in Thirsk on the 1st January 1923 and was the eldest son of Reginald and Jennie Camburn and brother to Kenneth, Stanley and John. He attended Thirsk Infant Junior and Secondary Schools and was a member of the Sowerby Scout Troop. He studied the violin and was a keen cricketer and played for the Thirsk Wednesday Eleven, apparently his enthusiasm for the game being greater then his talent. Alec's father worked for the Midland Bank, and in 1935 was promoted to manager of the Northallerton Branch. Shortly after his promotion Mr Camburn moved the family to Greenhowsyke Lane, Northallerton. On leaving school Alec worked as an assistant for Boots Chemists in Ripon and later joined the branch at Thirsk.
On reaching the age of eighteen Alec volunteered for the RAF and after the obligatory square bashing which turned him into a serviceman, he was accepted for pilot training. He sailed for the United States and began his training as a pilot in Terrell, Texas. At Terrel he flew basic trainers including the Harvard, a relatively fast single engined aircraft adapted for pilot training.
He then went on to fly twin engined trainers after which he qualified for his wings. He was then posted back to the UK with the rank of sergeant/pilot. After a short spell of leave he was posted to a Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) and learned to fly the four engined Halifax bomber. On completion of his conversion Alec was posted to No 77 Squadron based at Linton-on-Ouse. There he played cricket for the squadron, even buying himself a new bat. After familiarisation with the squadron and endless training sorties Alec was given a crew and by early 1943 was ready for air operations.
On the night of 30 of April 1943 No 77 Squadron were part of a bomber force consisting of 190 Lancasters, 105 Halifaxes and 10 Mosquitoes detailed to attack the industrial city of Essen in the Ruhr. The Pathfinders aircraft for the night were Mosquitoes using OBOE sky markers. OBOE was a system which utilised signals from the UK for target marking. The lead OBOE aircraft had to fly a straight and true course to maintain the target mark. This sometimes led to it being shot down and a long delay was caused by positioning a reserve marker Mosquito which was flying with the main force. On that night the cloud obscured the target and as a result no bombing photographs were produced. In the raid the Krupps armament factory was damaged and the Ruhr town of Bottrop was also bombed. The bomber force was engaged in a running fight with German night fighters and 6 Halifaxes and 6 lancasters were shot down. The Halifax piloted by Alec Camburn was attacked over Holland and shot down, crashing near Appeldoorn. Two of the crew managed to bail out but Alec and four other crew members were lost. Alec was only 20 years old.
Alec lies in Appeldoorn Commonwealth War Cemetery and is remembered on the Northallerton War Memorial, the Thirsk War Memorial and in the Church of the Royal Air Force St. Clement Danes London.