Friday, 10 July 2015

Burgess, William - Private - (39672)

Private William Burgess
33rd Battalion,
Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Killed in France 27th November 1918,
Age 21,
Buried Honnechy British Cemetery.

William Burgess was born in Accrington in 1897. He was the son of Jacob and Sarah Burgess. In 1901 William was living at 1, Hall Yard, Accrington with his parents, brother Wilson and sisters, Lily and Gertrude. William was a member of Stonefold Church and School, where his name was on the Roll of Honour. He was single and prior to joining the army at the outbreak of war, resided with his parents and three sisters, Lily, Gertie and Alice at 1, Tanner Barn, Acre, Haslingden. He had been in France since the outbreak of war and was killed on 29 November 1918 by the exploding of a bomb during salvage operations. He was 21 years of age. 
The following letter was received by his mother from the Major of his company.

B.E.F. France
November 28th 1918
“It is with the profoundest sorrow that I have to announce the news of the death of your son yesterday, the 27th. He was looking for some articles of equipment along with several others, around a large dump of shells which his company had been salvaging for some days past, when a shell or bomb exploded spontaneously, and killed him immediately, along with five other brave fellows, also wounding two others. This terribly sad accident has afflicted us after all the long fighting we have survived, and we are completely overcome by it. I fear I can offer but little consolation to you, beyond that his death was absolutely painless, and that his body is not much cut about. The whole thing was sudden and without warning. No-one can possibly be blamed; even if he were, he would have perished with the victims. We gave him a Christian burial this afternoon in the military cemetery at Malincourt, near Cambrai. I can only add that your son was thought a great deal of by officers and men alike, for a loyal and trustworthy fellow. His loss is deplored by us all, especially as he himself came through so much danger during the war. I am full of sorrow and sympathy for you.
His personal effects are being forwarded to you under registered cover. Believe me.
Yours Most Sincerely,
Albert Lomax, Major.”
From – Haslingden Guardian 20 December 1918

Pte. Burgess was originally buried in a German War Cemetery at Malincourt. At that time there were 300 German graves, seven soldiers from the United Kingdom buried by the Germans, and 14 who died in the period October to December 1918. Pte. Burgess would be one of these. 
In 1922 and 1923 all British graves in German cemeteries in the area were concentrated in Honnechy British Cemetery. Pte. Burgess would be moved at this time. 

Newspaper Memorials:

In loving memory of Private W. Burgess, Who accidentally killed in France, November 27th, 1918.

"Sudden and awful was the stroke,
By which the thread of life was broke;
Oh! haste to Christ, make no delay,
For no one knows their dying day."

From Mother and Sisters, Lily, Gertie and Alice No.1 Tanner Barn, Acre, Haslingden.

"A day of remembrance, sad to recall."

Wilson and Betty and little nephew Jack.

"Weep not for me, my mother dear,
I've done my best for four long years;
I always thought of a Better Day,
But it was God's will to call me away."

From the Family.

"With deepest sympathy"

From Mrs. Kaye and Family, 209 Blackburn Road, Haslingden, and Stacksteads.

"Links are snapped beyond repairing,
And the tenderest cords are riven;
Nothing can fill the void created,
But the gentle hand of Heaven."

From Brother and Sister, 209, Blackburn Road, Haslingden.

Private William Burgess census information - Click over census to enlarge