THE son of a highly decorated Second World War pilot has told how he must sell his father’s medals to pay for his care.
Bransome Burbridge was a conscientious objector and pacifist before the war, but when the full horror of what the world was dealing with became clear, he signed up to the RAF.
In his Mosquito fighter-bomber, Wing Commander Burbridge shot down 21 enemy aircraft, including V1 flying bombs, and was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.
The medals will be among a collection of Wing Commander Burbridge’s wartime memorabilia auctioned next month, and could fetch as much as £120,000. His son, Paul, 59, said money raised will go towards ensuring his father is comfortable at his residential home.
Mr Burbridge, of Clifton, York, who is the artistic director of Riding Lights Theatre Company, said: “From his reticence and modesty and self-effacing nature about the war, we know he wouldn’t have had a problem with us raising money in this way – not because he didn’t value them, I’m sure he did, but he valued other things more.
"The experience and story is what’s important, and that is not what is lost. The story is there to be told, it’s not these little bits of metal in boxes in a drawer. They are tokens of something much more important.”
He said he was sure his father had been proud to receive his medals from King George VI at Buckingham Palace, but had never made a fuss about them.
“They were tucked away in a drawer. I think he didn’t want to imply that he had done anything more than anyone else. He risked his life, but didn’t give his life, that’s something many people sacrificed.”
Wing Commander Burbridge has suffered from Alzheimer’s for 13 years, and moved into a residential home near Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, with his wife Barbara, when he began to require round-the-clock care.
His wife died last year, but Mr Burbridge said keeping his father, who is now 92, comfortable in a familiar environment would be better than moving him to another care home.
Since the story appeared in a national newspaper, people have been in touch with Mr Burbridge and his sister Sarah Guthrie, offering to help raise the money so they would not have to sell the medals.
Mr Burbridge said: “I know that he and my mother were obviously concerned that they would pass on whatever they could to the family, but we said the first call of all was their care.
“We are not campaigning, just managing the assets the best way we can. He’s lucky he has something to sell that’s of value to people, because many don’t. People have offered to start a campaign, but we would prefer people use their own money to look after their own relatives while we have this opportunity.”