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 was available.

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 beloved SAXOPHONE.

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.

John Usher





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