Anthony Fisher BURCHER DFM

BURCHER, Anthony Fisher

Service Numbers: O21979, 021979
Enlisted: 11 December 1940
Last Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Last Unit: No. 617 Squadron (RAF)
Born: North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 15 March 1922
Home Town: Snug, Tasmania
Schooling: Department of Agriculture Diploma Student
Occupation: Wool Sorter
Died: Natural Causes, Snug, Tasmania, Australia, 9 August 1995, aged 73 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial
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World War 2 Service

11 Dec 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, O21979
1 Feb 1941: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman
1 Sep 1941: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Sergeant
14 Nov 1942: Promoted Pilot Officer
14 May 1943: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, Promoted F/O before Dams Raid.
16 May 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, 021979, No. 617 Squadron (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45, Rear Gunner ED 925 'AJ-M' lost at Mohne Dam.
18 May 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, 021979, No. 617 Squadron (RAF), Prisoners of War
14 Nov 1944: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant
14 Feb 1952: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant, O21979

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Anthony Fisher BURCHER, DFM (1922-1995)

Tony Burcher was one of the 19 Australian 'Dambusters' who flew on the famous Dams Raid on 16/17 May 1943.  He was the rear gunner of Lancaster Aj-M 'M for Mother' tail number ED-925, flown by RAF Flight Lieutenant John Hopgood.  Their aircraft was hit by AA fire on the way to the target, they lost an engine and Hopgood was seriously wounded but they decided to press on.  They were hit again by AA fire on their bombing run, second in line behind the leader AJ-G flown by raid commander Wing Commander Guy Gibson.  The flack took out another engine and prevented the bomb release working properly although they got it away - late.  Hopgood, already seriously wounded struggled to gain height to give the crew a chance to bail out, but only three got out.  Tony Burcher had helped the badly wounded Wireless Operator Sergenat Minchin out of the aircraft but he did not survive the jump and Burcher was blown clear as the aircraft exploded.  He hit the tailplane of the aircraft on his way out breaking his back, and broke a kneecap as well.  He landed seriously injured and after attempted evasion, impaired by his injuries, he was captured and spent the rest of the war as a PoW.

Burcher spent several days in a culvert near where he had come down.  WIth crippling injuries and severed nerves in his back inhibited his realisation of just how much trouble he was in.  As he was trying to crawl across an adjacent road he was spotted by a member of the Hitler Youth, sho contacted the authorities.  Fortunately for Burcher he received excellent treatment, including being placed in a cement cast.  He learned that bomb aimer John Fraser had also made it out of the aircraft relatively safely.  They bioth served out the war as PoW.

Tony Burcher was sent to Stalag Luft III,  which was the scene of the 'Great Escape' in March 1944, ending in tragedy with the deaths of so many escapees.  Tony Burcher was not among them, not having taken art in the Escape.

He survived the war and married Joan Barnes, a WAAF member at 106 Squadron.  They returned to Australia after the War and settled in Sydney before returning to the UK in 1949 when Tony transferrred to the RAF.  He served in Malaya during the Emergency, and later Korea before retiring from the RAF in 1961.  They then returned to Australia settling at Snug, in Tasmania.  Tony's injuries plagued him for the rest of his life, and he was unable to attend the 50th Anniversary in 1993.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1994, and died in 1997 after sucumbing to the disease which afflicted so many of his colleagues.



Burgess, Colin, 2021.'Australia's Dambusters - Flying into Hell with 617 Squadron'.  Simon and Schuster, Sydney ISBN: 9781760859237