World War 2 (1939 - 1945)


Image reproduced by permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Alan James Burns

Service: Netherlands East India Army
Rank: Private

Allan James Burns was born on 30 May 1908 at 36 Mount Stuart Street, Shawlands, son of James Caw Burns, and Helen Coutts Maclean. Allan's father and mother were both teachers and in 1911, the family were living in Brodick where Allan's father was a head teacher and his mother an assistant teacher. They moved back to Glasgow where Allan was educated at Bellahouston Academy and later at Glasgow University. He graduated in 1928 with a BSc in agricultural studies. The family finally settled at 75 Larchfield Avenue, Newton Mearns.

There is a record of him sailing to Singapore on 15 April 1936 and another shipping record records him sailing from Southampton to Singapore on 11 June 1940.

In 1939, according to information published in the General Council Register of Members, he worked as an agriculturalist on the Ayer Tekah Estate in Asahan, one of the Malay Sultanates in Dutch East India.

The Commonwealth War Graves record indicates that Allan was married but no record of his marriage has been found so far. Research has discovered that he had a son James Allan, born in 1942.

Some records state that Allan had enlisted in the Netherlands East India Army, but the Commonwealth War Graves record indicates that he was a civilian. When the Japanese invaded the Dutch East Indies in 1942, Dutch, British, Australian and US troops and civilians were interned in prisoner-of-war camps. Allan was sent to Far East No 3 camp in Siam and most probably was put to work on the Burma – Siam railway. Allan died aged 34 and was buried there on 7 July 1942. He is commemorated on the family gravestone in Mearns Cemetery.

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