Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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1670597   Sergeant Alexander Henry Freeburn
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 02/09/2019
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 514 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (British Air Force)
Died: 22/05/1944 (Died on Active Sevice)
Age: 28
Summary      
Alexander Henry Freeburn was the son of David and Margaret Freeburn. He was born about 1916. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Alex flew with 514 Squadron during the Second World War. On the night of 21st/22nd May 1944, after a raid on Duisburg, his Lancaster bomber is believed to have crashed in The Wash. All eight crew were lost. Sergeant Freeburn’s body was later washed ashore at and his remains were returned home to Cookstown.
Sergeant Alexander Henry Freeburn
Further Information
Alexander Henry Freeburn was the son of David and Margaret Freeburn. He was born about 1916.
Alexander Henry Freeburn was the nephew of Alexander Henry Freeburn, who died in World War I.
Alexander Henry Freeburn joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Alex flew with 514 Squadron during the Second World War.
On the night of 21st/22nd May 1944, some 532 aircraft bombed Duisburg. Much damage was caused in the southern districts of the city with 350 buildings destroyed and 665 seriously damaged.
Sergeant Alex Freeburn was navigator on board a Lancaster bomber (Flight Serial No DS633) which took off from R.A.F. Waterbeach, near Cambridge.
Lancaster bomber
The aircraft was returning from operations against Duisburg and was seen to circle Waterbeach at 0303hrs. At 0309hrs the crew were instructed to jettison their bombs out at sea, but nothing more was heard of the aircraft after that time.
The aircraft is believed to have crashed in The Wash. All eight crew were lost.
bullet Sergeant Lawrence BUXTON (1614503) Wireless Op/Air Gunner
bullet Sergeant Thomas Smith COMBE (1823102) Air Gunner
bullet Sergeant James Laird DUNBAR (1585541) Air Bomber
bullet Sergeant James FRASER (935291) Flight Engineer
bullet Sergeant Alexander Henry FREEBURN (1670597) Navigator
bullet Sergeant John GALLAGHER (1823530) Air Gunner
bullet Flight Sergeant Thomas Lipsey GIBSON (984464) Pilot
bullet Sergeant George Henry KEMP (1592001) Air Gunner
There is speculation that the aircraft was shot down by the Me410 of Fw. Johann Trenke, who claimed three aircraft over Northern Norfolk between 0305 and 0322 hours.
Sergeant Freeburn’s body was later washed ashore at Snettisham, Norfolk on 19th June 1944. All the crew’s bodies were recovered.
Alexander Freeburn’s remains were returned home to Cookstown.
Sergeant Alexander Henry Freeburn is buried at Cookstown New Cemetery, Cemetery. His inscription reads ‘MANY LANCASTERS WERE MISSING ONE NAVIGATOR IS SAFE. TILL HE COME’
Sergeant Freeburn is commemorated locally on Cookstown Cenotaph and on Molesworth Presbyterian Roll of Honour.
The CWGC record Sergeant Alexander Henry Freeburn as the son of David and Margaret Freeburn of Cookstown.
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Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Cookstown Cemetery Cookstown South Buried in Cookstown Cemetery 54.638123 -6.752274
2 Molesworth Church Cookstown Central Listed on Molesworth Church Memorial 54.645419 -6.740843
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 514 Squadron Details of crew and crash
2 Bomber Command Details of crew and crash
3 FindAGrave.com Photo of Alexander H Freeburn's grave
4 L/Corporal Alexander Freeburn Uncle of Sergeant Alexander Henry Freeburn
5 Lancaster II (DS633 JI-B2) Details of crew and crash
6 RAF Commands Details of crew
7 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Alexander H Freeburn's grave can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2019