The Long Road Journey
with Bob Burns and his Saxophone
Bob Burns was a Navigator with 106 squadron during
the war when, on a raid over Schweinfurt in April 1944 his Lancaster
was shot down. Bob finished up a POW in camp Stalag Luft VII.
Bob had been a semi - professional musician before volunteering for
aircrew so imagine his surprise when one day a delivery of numerous
musical instruments arrived in the camp, courtesy of the Red Cross.
Bob immediately seized the
saxophone and the clarinet which he had played professionally.
He soon found sufficient prisoners
to form a 14 piece orchestra and along with another prisoner
proceeded to write various pieces of music.
This life of writing and playing continued in the POW camp until
January 1945 when their lives changed dramatically.
Stalag Luft VII was close to the Russian border and as the Russia’s
were now approaching on a line which would take in the camp the
Germans decided to move all 1500 prisoners to a camp Stalag IIIA (Luckenwalde),
closer to Berlin
The prisoners were told that they would have to walk as no transport
The prisoners set off in the early hours of the 19th January 1945 in
a driving blizzard and the worst winter for years.
The prisoners had to carry all their personal possessions which in
Bob’s case included the SAXOPHONE.
The journey on foot was to Goldberg, distance of around 150 miles,
before transferring to railway cattle trucks and was to take nearly
3 weeks sheltering each night in barns or cattle sheds, with the
threat of being shot if they tried to escape.
The vast majority of the prisoners suffered from dysentery and
malnutrition and yet through all this Bob clung on to his now
After a final train journey to Luckenwalde (Stalag IIIA) from
Goldberg the prisoners were finally released by the Russians and
flown back to England.
Bob finally settled in Devon with his wife Anne but only playing his
Saxophone at family get togethers.
Bob, unfortunately died 3 years ago but Anne still has his treasured
saxophone with all its memories.
Note. This epic journey on foot is now in book form “The Long Road”
which is well worth reading.