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Marathon cycle ride honours two generations of service

Photo: Joe and Oliver in front of the memorial.


The son and grandson of a much-loved member of Churchill’s ‘Few’ have completed a marathon cycle ride in honour of him and of his father, who died in France 100 years ago.

Flt Lt Owen V Burns, who flew in the Battle of Britain, was the son of Sgt Owen V Burns, who died on 1 May 1918 after being wounded in the First World War and is buried in the Military Cemetery in Etaples, northern France.

Joe Burns, son of Flt Lt Burns, and his son Oliver, great grandson to Sgt Burns, spent four days cycling from Birkenhead to Etaples via the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne in Kent, where Flt Lt Burns’ name is listed on the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall.

The pair arrived at Capel-le-Ferne after braving torrential rain and gale force winds on the journey from Canterbury, pausing briefly for photographs at the National Memorial to the Few at the heart of the site. At the Memorial, the two cyclists met up with Flt Lt Burns’ widow Deborah, now a trustee of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, who joined the group for the last leg of the trip to Etaples.

Flt Lt Burns died on 30 June 2015, just weeks after being presented to Her Majesty The Queen at the opening of The Wing, the impressive new visitor centre at the Capel-le-Ferne site.

The four-day sponsored ride, which is expected to raise as much as £5,000, was in aid of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, the Alzheimer’s Society, the Dementia Cafe Louth and other Rotary Club of Louth charities.

It is still possible to contribute by donating at

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