Lot Archive


№ 419


7 April 1994

Hammer Price:

A Great War Balloonatic's M.C. group awarded to Lieutenant A. V. Burbury, Royal Air Force, late Yorkshire Regiment and Royal Flying Corps

MILITARY CROSS, G.V.R.; 1914-15 STAR (2 Lieut., York R.); BRITISH WAR AND VICTORY MEDALS, M.I.D. (Lieut., R.A.F.); 1939-45 STAR; DEFENCE AND WAR MEDALS; France, CROIX DE GUERRE 1915-1918, mounted for wearing, generally very fine (8)

M.C., London Gazette, 14 November, 1916. 'For conspicuous skill and gallantry. When observing from a balloon at a height of 3,000 feet, the cable was cut by a shell. He destroyed his papers, ripped the balloon, a most difficult operation in the air, and then got down in his parachute.'

Arthur Vivian Burbury was born on 20 May 1896 and entered the Yorkshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant in July 1915. Soon afterwards he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, being graded a Balloon Officer in October. On 15 September, 1916, while observing the advance of an offensive launched by the 6th Division against the Quadrangle Redoubt, the Royal Artillery officer in charge of Battery above which he was positioned warned him that his balloon cable was beginning to lean towards the barrels of some 6in. howitzers. Given the fact he was ideally sited to observe the attack, and that nearby trees and telephone wires would have restricted his moving, Burbury informed the Gunners that he would run the risk of staying in his present position. Minutes later a howitzer shell brushed his cable and he was on his way towards enemy lines. Painfully aware that his balloon was a new type unknown to the enemy, he decided to use the emergency ‘rip panel’ rather than immediately abandon his post. In the event his efforts were rewarded when the balloon finally came to rest on our frontline trenches. Meanwhile, he had also taken the precaution of destroying his maps and papers, and landed by parachute inside our lines. He received an immediate M.C. and French Croix de Guerre. Soon afterwards Burbury commenced Pilot Training and joined No. 1 Squadron. On 26 April, 1917, while flying a Nieuport, he destroyed an enemy balloon and, while in the process of attacking a second, he was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. Wounded and taken prisoner, he was repatriated in December 1918. He was next posted to the North Russian Expeditionary Force and saw service on the Archangel front as a S.O.4 and Pilot. His last stint of active service was spent in Ireland during the troubles of the early 1920's. After resigning his commission Burbury joined the Diplomatic Corps and received promotion to 2nd Secretary in 1927. He was author of ‘The Higher the Fewer’; sold with further details.