Private 43278 Edwin Burrows – Killed in Action 12th October 1916

Edwin Edgar Truman (Newman) Burrows was born in Caversham, then Oxfordshire (now Berkshire) in the 2nd Quarter of 1879. He was the youngest of eight sons in the family and he had one surviving younger sister.  Edwin’s parents were Charles and Martha Burrows.  The family had moved around the Home Counties, with Charles holding various jobs.  By 1891, they lived in Acton in west London and Charles was employed as a Painter’s Labourer.

Edwin was 24 years old when he married Helen (Ellen) Bleakley on 15th March 1903.  The couple both lived in Acton and held their ceremony in St Dunstan’s Church.  Edwin marked his name with a cross, indicating limited literacy.  He described his occupation as a Carman.

In 1911 Edwin and Ellen lived at 32 Petersfield Road, Acton.  The couple had three sons and two daughters and Edwin was noted in the Census as an out of work General Labourer.  Ellen worked as a laundry hand.  The family had lost a daughter in infancy and a third daughter, Gladys was born on 11th May 1915.

Edwin was employed as a Dustman, for Acton Council, when he enlisted in the Army.  He attested at a recruiting depot in Acton on 31st August and joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment i(Royal Berks) in Reading on 4th September 1915.  He received the Regimental Number 19171. Edwin’s home address was then 107 Colville Road, South Acton.  He was 5’2” tall and weighed 142lbs.

Edwin undertook his training in Reading with the 9th (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Berks.  Edwin absconded from Bovington Camp on 17th January 1916 and was posted Absent Without Leave, having visited his pregnant wife Ellen.  Two days later he was apprehended by a Police Officer in Acton and presumably returned to his Battalion.

Edwin left for the Western Front with a large draft of other newly trained men on 30th June 1916.  For Regimental administration, this draft was recorded as part of 5th Battalion, but they never arrived at their Battalion posting.  Edwin embarked at Folkestone on 1st July 1916 and was posted to 6th Infantry Brigade Depot in Rouen on 3rd July.

At this stage of the war, the Army had just faced the opening of the Battle of the Somme, with inordinate casualties.  This meant that drafts of men were allocated to the Regiment with the most pressing need for replacements.  Edwin and his draft were attached to 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment on 11th July 1916.  The Battalion had taken part in the attacks on Montauban and Trones Wood, contributing to extensive casualties.

Further drafts were received, taking the Battalion roll back up towards full fighting strength.  The 17th Manchesters then took part in their third assault on the village of Guillemont.  Some members of Edwin’s draft of former Royal Berks men were casualties here, on 29th/30th July 1916.

After Guillemont, the Battalion was withdrawn from the front and yet further drafts of men arrived.  Edwin and the other Royal Berks men were formerly transferred to the 17th Battalion on 1st September 1916.  He received the Manchester Regiment Number 43278.

Edwin was killed in action north of Flers on 12th October 1916.  This was another disastrous assault for the 17th Manchesters, in which all the officers who went ‘over the top’ were killed or wounded.  Edwin has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Ellen Burrows received a Pension Allowance of 33 Shillings 6 pence per week, as notified in April 1917.  It seems this came to an end in May 1919.   Ellen also received a War Gratuity of £4.

No local War Memorials seem to include Edwin and he may be solely commemorated at Thiepval. Thanks to Feona King for bringing her great grandfather to our attention.  Ellen Catherine Burrows (b1904) was Edwin’s elder daughter and Feona’s grandmother.

Edwin is Not Forgotten.

Acton Gazette 17 November 1916