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BURGESS, Walter Hartley

1st World War
Date of Birth
Date Attested
Attested at
Wolseley, Saskatchewan
Date of Death
Age at Death
34 years 2 months
Biographical Summary

DIVISIONAL UNIT:         4th Canadian Infantry Division
                                             10th Infantry Brigade
                                             50th Battalion - Calgary
                                             Canadian Infantry Corps
AWARDS:                          Distinguished Service Order
DATE OF BIRTH:            June 5, 1884
                                             Bluevale – Morris Township – County of Huron - Ontario
DATE OF DEATH:           August 10, 1918                   34 years – 2 months
CEMETERY:                     Fouquescourt British Cemetery – Fouquescourt –
                                             Somme – France
                                             II     G     7
PARENT:                           Mrs. Elizabeth Burgess – Bluevale – Ontario
Occupation:                        Salesman                              Religion:     Presbyterian
Enlistment:                         Wolseley – Saskatchewan – January 6, 1916 into the 50th Battalion
Enlistment Age:                 31 years     6 months

On August 24, 1916 he was promoted to rank of Lieutenant. He arrived in England on November 11, 1916 and was immediately assigned to the 9th Reserve Battalion located on St. Martens Plain – Shorncliffe – Kent. Lieutenant Burgess leaves Bramshott for France and joins the 50th Battalion already in the field on June 29, 1917. 
Lieutenant Burgess was admitted to No. 10 Canadian Field Hospital on August 27, 1917 suffering from wounds to the back of his left thigh and he was discharged on September 21, 1917. On November 7, 1917 he is mentioned in the despatches of Sir Douglas Haig.
Lieutenant Burgess received his Distinguished Service Order on December 12, 1917.
By Command of General Douglas Haig he is awarded the Distinguished Service Order on January 15, 1918 for distinguished service while in the field as per the London Gazette but does not receive this until February of 1918.
The D.S.O. Citation reads: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took command of his company, which was in support during an engagement when the front line began to be driven back by the enemy, he at once went forward, took command, and by his example and influence succeeded in holding the position. He exposed himself fearlessly to an intense artillery and machine-gun barrage to steady the men and keep them in position, and he re-organized and established the line, and handed it over intact when relieved. His courageous action undoubtedly saved a critical situation.
During the month of April, Lieutenant Burgess is again mentioned in the despatches of Sir Douglas Haig.
The weather on August 10th at Amiens was good with south winds and dry ground. The 50th Battalion was left support with the advance beginning at 10:15 am.  The enemy barrage from their “heavies” caused casualties before crossing the Vimy – Warvillers Road but as we neared the 49th Battalion so we could pass through heavy enemy machine-gun fire was met coming from Fouquescourt and from the wood to the rear making it impossible to advance. Casualties now were very heavy. At 7:20 pm the Battalion advanced over a mile under heavy machine-gun and artillery fire. This took 1 ¼ hours. The Battalion on the right could not advance so the 50th Battalion had to protect their right flank and they did so by swinging back to form a defensive line.
During the fighting of the evening advance Lieutenenat Burgess was taking part in the advance in front of Hallu when he was shot through the heart by an enemy bullet and died immediately. Lieutenant Burgess was considered to be one of the most aggressive and gallant members of the Battalion. He had lost his life during the evening attack as he performed his military duties with his men. He will be remembered for his leadership skills during the Battle of Passchendaele when with only the remnant of a Company he defeated a much larger and more powerful enemy force.
Today, Lieutenenat Walter Burgess is not forgotten as the King’s Own Calgary Regiment who perpetuated the 
50th Battalion; present the Burgess Sword to the subaltern (officer below rank of Captain) who has shown the most improvement during the year.