Pilot Officer Lewis Burpee - 617 Squadron  

Pilot Officer Lewis Burpee (DFM) - RCAF

 Pilot Officer Lewis Burpee was piloting Lancaster Mk.III ED-865 coded AJ-S during Operation Chastise on May 16/17, 1943. The aircraft left Scampton at 0011 hours as part of the third and final wave of Operation Chastise, they were tasked to bomb the Sorpe Dam.

 The aircraft was following the Wilhelmina Canal near Eindhoven as a navigational aid after ariving safely at the Dutch coast. Pilot Officer Burpee attempted to avoid the searchlights and flak, but the Lancaster was hit and caught fire, crashing onto the aerodrome at Gilze-Rijen, causing a massive explosion to the buildings. The entire crew was lost.

 The crew consisted of:

Name Service Trade Hometown Age
P/O Lewis Burpee RCAF Pilot Ottawa, Ontario 25
Sgt Guy Pegler RAFVR Flight Engineer Bath, Somerset 21
Sgt Thoms Jaye RAFVR Navigator Crook Co., Durham 21
P/O Leonard Weller RAFVR W/Op/AG Hornsey, Middlesex 28
W/O2 James Arthur RCAF Bomb Aimer Coldwater, Ontario 25
Sgt William Long RAFVR Air Gunner Bournemouth, Hampshire 19
W/O2 Joseph Brady RCAF Air Gunner Ponoka, Alberta 27


 Lewis Johnstone Burpee was born on March 5, 1918 to Lillian and Lewis Burpee of Ottawa, Ontario. He enlisted in the RCAF on December 17, 1940 and was awarded his Pilot's wings on July 21, 1941 at No. 13 EFTS St. Eugene, Ontario. He was originally posted overseas to 106 squadron and completed 26 operations and earned the Distiguished Flying Medal prior to joining 617 squadron. His citation reads:


"This airman has successfully completed a number of operational sorties against targets which include the naval ports of Wilhelmshaven, Bremen and Hamburg and also industrial centres in Italy.  He has also taken part in raids on Berlin, Nuremburg, and Stuttgart.  He has constantly displayed the utmost determination to complete his allotted task, whatever hardships or dangers are encountered.  From raids on Lorient and St.Nazaire he secured valuable photographs.  Flight Sergeant Burpee has invariably exhibited coolness and courage and has performed his duties conscientiously and efficiently."


 Lewis Burpee married while overseas, he is buried with his crew at Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery in the Netherlands.

 With the help of the Barnes Wallis Memorial Trust, a propeller blade from Lancaster ED865 AJ-S was found and is now on display at Hangar 1 in the Newark Air Museum alongside other Lancaster and Dambusters memorabilia.

  Photos courtesy of David & Derek Storey and the RCAF Museum.