Unique photo tribute to Birkenhead Boy

Top photographer and Battle of Britain Memorial supporter Greg Esson has produced a special tribute for the family of Flt Lt Owen Burns, a popular member of the Few who was a regular visitor to the Capel-le-Ferne memorial.

Greg has taken many impressive images at and around the Battle of Britain Memorial over the years, with many of them raising impressive sums for the charity at auction.  He specialises in dusk or night-time shots that include natural features such as lightning or stars.

Now he has produced a special tribute for Owen’s family that he presented to his widow Deborah, now a Trustee who works tirelessly to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by the Few.

Called Birkenhead Boy after Owen and his family’s hometown, it is a particularly haunting image of the National Memorial to the Few and The Wing at night with a ‘ghosted’ Bristol Blenheim – the aircraft in which Owen served during the Battle of Britain – flying overhead.

Deborah said: “I am thrilled with this poignant and haunting image. Owen loved to visit the Memorial, and indeed one of his very last days out was to attend the opening ceremony by Her Majesty The Queen in March 2015, just two months before he left us. I am sure all of his family will be thrilled with this special memento.”

Deborah took the opportunity to present the special pictures to two of Owen’s daughters and his son, as well as two of his grandchildren, during Battle of Britain Weekend in September.

Greg’s unique photographs of the site have been signed by various people, including several Chiefs of the Air Staff, the late Sit Patrick Moore, British astronaut Helen Sharman and even Queen guitarist Brian May, with all of them then being sold or auctioned in aid of the Trust.

His pictures often have an astronomical theme, reflecting his enjoyment of amateur astronomy, with the clifftop site an ideal location for peaceful enjoyment of the night sky.

He currently has nine of his prints available as a fund-raiser for the Trust. Each A4 picture, professionally giclee printed, costs just £15, including UK p&p. They include a photograph of the comet C/2020 F3 Neowise taken at 3am over Dover Castle, and shots of the National Memorial to the Few against backdrops of the Milky Way and an incredible lightning flash.

Another shot of The Wing, taken to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, shows the building lit up in red, white and blue. Each of those prints is personally signed by Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, former president of the Trust, and Richard Hunting, the chairman, and is a limited edition of 50 prints, each with a certificate of authenticity.

Of Birkenhead Boy, Greg said: “I took this photograph shortly before midnight on 17 July 2020.  Afterwards, while experimenting with creating a composite image, I used several shots, taken previously, of various aircraft and ghosted in images of a Spitfire, a Hurricane and a Blenheim. 

“Using this as the basis, Birkenhead Boy was commissioned by Deborah as a personal tribute to her late husband Owen and I was delighted to present a range of limited edition versions to her.”

Owen was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire on 20 November 1915 and died on 30 June 2015. He was a gunner on the Bristol Blenheim MKIV throughout the Battle of Britain, and it is because the Few includes men like Owen that the Trust refers to those remembered at the Memorial as ‘aircrew’ rather than ‘pilots’.

To buy one of Greg’s exclusive images, or commission an individual print, contact him via his email at greg.esson@virgin.net

Greg and Deborah with pix Greg Esson and Deborah Burns

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