Gurney, Brian Frederick

Brian was born on the 17th May 1924 in Cremorne, New South Wales, and he enlisted in the RAAF on the 2nd August 1943.

Towards the end of the War, Brian was with 452 squadron in Balikpapan in Borneo. Following the landing at Balikpapan on the 1st July 1945, a detachment of 452 Squadron aircraft moved there on the 15th July to support the land campaign. 

On the 17th July 1945, at 1150 hrs, Brian was one of five Spitfires that took off from Sepinggan to strafe enemy troops in the Balikpapan area. The formation was led by Squadron Leader L. Barclay. On landing at around 1205 hrs, Brian, then a Flight Sergeant, misjudged his landing and touched down short of the runway at Balikpapan. The soft mud caused the aircraft to nose over, cartwheel and burst into flames. Brian escaped with a shaking up. Due to the fire tender’s foam extinguisher running out of foam, the aircraft burned back to the cockpit. 

(Web Master: Balikpapan, a port on the southern coast of Dutch Borneo, was the site of the last major Australian ground operation of the Second World War. The landing at Balikpapan referred to above was the largest of the three operations mounted by 1 Australian Corps at various places around Borneo on that day. The landing’s objectives were to secure the oil processing and port facilities there. After a tremendous preparatory bombardment, the 7th Division went ashore on the morning of the 1st July 1945. Apparently, it was the largest ever amphibious assault by Australian Forces during the War.)

Paul Carter
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association