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John Burns

Plaque for John Burns

Akatarawa Cemetery, Upper Hutt

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  • Title
  • Forenames
    John AWMM
  • Surname
    Burns AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Blackie AWMM
  • Service number
    • WWII 45402 AWMM
    • Korea 30055 AWMM
    • Malaya 30055 AWMM
    • Vietnam 30055 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    30 November 1917 Ministry for Culture and Heritage NapierHawkes Bay Ministry for Culture and Heritage
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Unknown AWMM 27 Roxburgh Street, Wellington, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mr J. Burns (father), 27A Roxburgh Street, Wellington, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) AWMM
      DSO: London Gazette, 30 April 1954. Citation: "In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Korea, during the period 1st to 27th July 1953. Lieutenant Colonel Burns took command of 16th New Zealand Field Regiment early in February 1953 when United States Dibision were being supported by 1st Commonwealth Divisional Artillery. His Regiment was in support of 9th United States Infantry Regiment and he consistently rendered outstanding service during a period of extreme patrol activity. On 2nd March, the enemy launched a two company attack on a forward company to the Point 355 area and achieved some penetration. Again on 17th March two Chinese companies attacked thet same position causing over 150 casualties but were themselves very severely mauled. In both these actions Lieutenant Colonel Burns by his calm and purposeful handling of his artillery was largely responsible for restoring the position and inflicting crippling casualties. Throughout the ten weeks he supported 9th Infantry Regiment he gained himself a high reputation for his courage under fire and his calm efficiency during a host of minor actions. Later, on the nights of 24th, 25th July when in support of 28th Infantry Brigade on the HOOK, the Chinese launched a Divisional scale attack on the Marines. An estimated brigade came in on Point 111 in the Marine sector and on Point 121 on the left of our sector. The supporting fire given by Lieutenant Colonel Burns was devastating and again his calm and skilful work proved decisive. Scores of Chinese bodies to be seen on the wire after the Armistice bore witness to the effect of the Artillery fire." AWMM
    • Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) AWMM
    • 1939-1945 Star AWMM
    • Africa Star AWMM
    • Italy Star AWMM
    • Defence Medal AWMM
    • War Medal 1939-1945 AWMM
    • New Zealand War Service Medal AWMM
    • Korea Medal (EIIR) AWMM
    • Coronation Medal 1953 AWMM
    • United Nations Medal for Korea AWMM
    • New Zealand Operational Service Medal AWMM
    • Vietnam Medal AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 Soldier/Military AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    • WW2
      1942 AWMM
      Captured during the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 AWMM
    • WW2 POW - P.G. 47, Modena, Italy Italy Imperial POW Alphabetical List
      Italy, Europe Italy Imperial POW Alphabetical List
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • "Captured during the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 and three times escaped from prisoner of war camps in Northern Italy, the third time successfully. On the run for nine months he was sheltered by sympathetic locals before eventually rejoining the New Zealand Division at Sora." (Weekend Herald, 25-26 January, 2003). For his escape successes, he was awarded his MBE.

    Served as Commanding Officer (CO) of 16 Field Regiment in Korea, February 1953-March 1954.

    Commandant of NZ Divisional Artillery, 1954-59.

    Commandant of Army Schools, 1960-64.

    Senior Army Liaison Officer, London, 1965-68.

    Deputy Adjutant General (DAG), 1969.

    Director of Cadets, 1969-70.

    Commander of Home Command, 1970-72.

    Retired 1973.

    Commandant of Royal Regiment of NZ Artillery, 1975-81.

    Trustee of QE2 Army Memorial Museum.

    Civil Defense Co-ordinator.

    Trustee on the Board of the National Army Museum AWMM
Read more


About death

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  • Death
    11 January 2003 AWMM
    Age 85 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
    85 Public - T - Researcher - 5 July 2023 - UHCC
  • Place of death
    Days Bay. Lower Hutt, Wellington Public - T - Researcher - 5 July 2023 - UHCC
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
    Akatarawa Cemetery Public - T - Researcher - 5 July 2023 - UHCC
  • Grave reference
    RSA 3/ Row 13/ Plot 7 Public - T - Researcher - 5 July 2023 - UHCC
  • Obituary
    Obituary: New Zealand Herald, 25-26 January 2003 AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

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  • External links
  • References
    • Haigh, J., Polaschek, A. (Eds.). (1993). New Zealand and the Distinguished Service Order. Christchurch, N.Z.: Authors. AWMM
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 4 (Embarkations from 1st April, 1941 to 30 June, 1941). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 4: WW2 50 AWMM
    • Weekend Herald AWMM
      Weekend Herald, 25-26 January, 2003, A 27 AWMM
    • The New Zealand Herald AWMM
      Obituary: New Zealand Herald, 25-26 January 2003 AWMM
    • Great Britain Army. (1945). Italy : imperial prisoners of war alphabetical list : section 4. London, U.K.: Government Printer. AWMM
    • Hall, C. (2014). No front line : inside stories of New Zealand's Vietnam War. Auckland, New Zealand : Penguin Books. AWMM
    • This record was created from data kindly provided by the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. AWMM
    • Nominal rolls - Nominal rolls embarkation K-force [Korea Nominal Roll], Archives New Zealand, Wellington, AAYS 8638 AD1/1433 (R22440250) AWMM
    • Chamberlain, H. (2013). The New Zealand Korea Roll : honouring those who served in the New Zealand Armed Forces in Korea, 1950-1957. Wellington, N.Z.: Author. AWMM
    • FARELF Nominal Roll Part 1 1958-1961 - Archives New Zealand, Wellington, CAJN CH189/Box70 41/4/11 (R21234083) AWMM


Command item
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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
05 July 2023TWellingtonResearcher

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