In September 1917, Leslie Williams Burbidge was posted to 20 Squadron as an observer. On 23 October 1918 he and pilot Thomas Traill narrowly escaped death when their Bristol Fighter collided with another Bristol F.2b and went into a spin. Burbidge climbed out onto the lower plane allowing Traill to regain partial control of the aircraft before it crashed.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Lieut. (Hon. Capt.) Leslie William Burbidge. (FRANCE)
On 23rd October this officer displayed marked gallantry and bravery. After destroying a hostile machine his own machine collided, by mischance, with another of his formation on the return journey, and at once began to fall out of control. Capt. Burbidge, with great presence of mind and considerable personal risk, climbed out on to the damaged plane, and so enabled his pilot to regain partial control, maintaining this position till the machine slowly side-slipped on to the ground. By his courageous action this officer undoubtedly saved the life of his pilot at considerable danger to his own, for, on the machine striking the ground, he was thrown from the plane and received serious injuries to his face.