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ejwalshe

2nd Lt. Francis "Frank" Burns

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ejwalshe

A descendant is looking for information regarding the death of 2nd Lt. Francis "Frank" Burns of the Seaforth Highlanders on 31 July 1917.

 

His name is listed at the Menin Gate.

 

Specifically, does the Seaforth Highlanders war diary mention his death, and if so, was his body recovered?

 

Perhaps a battlefield grave was lost/misplaced/destroyed afterwards?

 

 

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mancpal

My strong feeling is that he has no known grave or he wouldn't be listed on the Menin Gate. It is possible he had been identified and buried but the grave was lost in subsequent action, equally his remains could lie in a CWGC cemetery with an unnamed headstone.

Good luck with your search, there are a few Seaforths followers on here and I'm sure one will crop up with the type of info you require

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ejwalshe

Thanks. mancpal! 

 

I have strong feelings that a majority of the men listed on the various memorials like Vimy, Thiepval, & Menin Gate were once given battlefield burials by their comrades or foe.

 

The common notion that many were lost because they were "blown to bits" does not sit well with me.

 

Your chances of your name being listed on these memorials diminished with each year of the war.

 

Those who were NEVER found were likely buried by mine craters, in shell holes, or in collapsed trenches.

 

The majority were given battlefield burials and those bodies were lost because records were misplaced, lost, or destroyed.

 

And, as you noted, many are actually buried in Volksbund and CWGC cemeteries as unidentified casualties of war.

 

To be clear, I believe the majority of lost casualties were actually once given a hasty, somewhat dignified burial on the battlefield. 

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mancpal

"The majority were given battlefield burials and those bodies were lost because records were misplaced, lost, or destroyed."

Could you please reveal your sources ?
 

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Maureene

The following, available  online,  explains the situation in 1916

  • The Care of the Dead 1916 Archive.org. A short pamphlet about the Army’s Graves Registration Units.

Cheers

Maureen

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ejwalshe

At the Canadian Expeditionary Study Force Group (CEFSG), the sources we typically use are the C.o.G. (Concentration of Grave) Reports and C.o.D. (Circumstances of Death) files available at Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

 

I have read literally thousands of files and reports concerning Canadian soldiers whose names are listed on Menin or Vimy who's location was once known.  

 

These same C.o.G. files reveal the same thing has happened to the soldiers of all nationalities in the war, British, German, Russian,...

 

Indeed, many of these same soldiers had been exhumed repeatedly (concentrated), only to eventually find their way to Vimy, Menin & Thiepval because they were lost.

 

Lost - because we once had them!  It's a significant difference from "their body was never found."

 

The idea is not my own.  I heard it first from Canadian Historian and former Chief Records Officer at the CWGC, Norm Christie.

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HolymoleyRE

Hi, I have had a look through the WD at first pass I couldn't see much detail as to any casualties during their actions at Ypres that month, there are quite a few supporting papers, Op orders (including detail of the 31st) signals, maps and handwritten accounts.  In the later a 2nd Lt Burns is mentioned, as a platoon commander and also covers a part of an action where Lt Burns's platoon come under enemy MG fire.

 

Will take another look.

 

Andy

Edited by HolymoleyRE

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HolymoleyRE

In fact there are notes on a raid dated 7/9th July that has 2/Lt Burns as a Platoon raid Commander, the notes detail his actions during the raid which ultimately led to his MC citation below from the LG.

Screenshot_20180105-080407.jpg

Edited by HolymoleyRE

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HolymoleyRE

Sadly I cannot see any reference to his death in the WD in July.  In the Ancestry version sadly it would seem the appendixed acount of the action on the 31st July is missing some pages....which may be in the actual TNA version.

 

On the advance toward the German line in the dark, they came under heavy Arty fire, and later the enemy followed up with Sniper and MG fire, the term considerable casualties is cited on more than one occasion.

 

 

Edited by HolymoleyRE

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Acknown

I've had a look through the WD and supporting documents. There is plenty of detail about raids carried out by 8/Seaforths, but Frank is not mentioned on 31 Jul 17, the WD merely stating on Page 324 the details of a successful operation: click here (Ancestry).

However, on the documentation attached to Aug 17's WD, there is a pencilled note listing officer casualties for the preceding month, including Frank, on 31 Jul (Page 421): click here (Ancestry).

Not very illuminating and I think you will have to find other sources. However, a painstaking trawl through the WD may unearth more mentions.

Acknown

Edited by Acknown
punctuation

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HolymoleyRE
37 minutes ago, Acknown said:

on the documentation attached to Aug 17'

Well done for going that far, I only went as far the end Aug diary entries.....lesson learnt.

 

Andy

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Acknown

Thanks. I've just noticed that the 'pencilled note' sits alongside a summary of officer casualties for the period: Killed - 2, Wounded - 8, Missing - 0. So there is a chance that his body was recovered, not just missing.

Acknown

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ejwalshe

Great work - may not be what were looking for so far, but I will pass along the news to his great-nephew.  Thanks so much everyone.

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Mark1959

Pic of him in the Daily Record 28/8/17. No further details.

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voltaire60
On 1/4/2018 at 19:44, ejwalshe said:

A descendant is looking for information regarding the death of 2nd Lt. Francis "Frank" Burns of the Seaforth Highlanders on 31 July 1917.

 

His name is listed at the Menin Gate.

 

Specifically, does the Seaforth Highlanders war diary mention his death, and if so, was his body recovered?

 

Perhaps a battlefield grave was lost/misplaced/destroyed afterwards?

 

 

 

      I have had a chance to look at his officer file in the National Archives at Kew.. It has nothing about his death  but there are some bits of information that may be useful to you.

 

            Pip,pip

                 Mike

aka V60

 

Second Lieutenant  Francis/Frank Burn, Seaforth Highlanders        WO 339/80095  OFFICER FILE

 

Next of kin and legatee: Ms Catherine Burns, Castle Street, Clackmannan.

 

TERRITORIAL ARMY- ATTESTATION FORM

Signed off, 9th April 1914.  Enlisted as 2214, 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Age 17. Height 5’8”

Joined 2/7 AS and transferred to 3/7 AS (date not given)

27th April 1915. Wounded at Ypres-  shrapnel wound to right thigh. 19 days in hospital.

     Wound to middle third of right thigh. Small piece of shrapnel embedded at depth, X Ray taken at Eastbourne by doctor, Captain C.Mitchell-date not given.

30th April 1915- returned to England on Hospital Ship “Salter” (?)

 Proficiency Pay for Class B from 9th April 1916

13th June 1916. Paid Acting Lance Corporal

1st September 1916- Reverted t Pprivate on transfer to 5th AS

APPLICATION FOR COMMISSION

    Applied for a temporary commission in the Regular Army.

    Asked for any infantry regiment, Highland preferred.

Born 9th May 1897 in Clackmannan.

Father listed as a farmer.

Adrress  on application- “A Company, 5th AS, North Camp, Ripon.

Occupation given as apprenticed electrical engineer

Good character signed-off by Alex Imrie Robertson,DD, Minister of Clackmanna

24th November 1916- Accepted for 9 Officer Cadet Battalion, Gailes Camp, Ayrshire from 1st December 1916

    Enclosed birth certificate (copy) states born 9th May 1897, at 9pm at Castle Street, Clackmannan. Father, James Burns, listed as a carter. Mother’s name given as Catherine, maiden name Donald. The date below this is given as 31st December 1877, Glasgow- but not clear if this is her birth date or date of marriage

    Copy of Soldier’s Will enclosed:

     “In the event of my death I give the whole of my property to my sister Kate Burns, who resides at Castle Street, Clackmannan, Clackmannanshire, Scotland”. Signed-off at 21st December 1914

 

 

 

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ejwalshe

Thank you, Mike,,,,,passing this along to the family.

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rainb0w1987

I am the descendant that was looking for more information on on him. Thank You :)

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ejwalshe

Great stuff!  Pleasure to help.

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mrfrank

Thought the name rang a bell - just checked and Frank Burns is featured on a group photo I have of ‘A’ Company, 9th OCB taken in March 1917. 

PM if you’d like a crop photo of him and I’ll attempt to provide a decent image. 

 

Mike

 

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rainb0w1987
On 24/07/2018 at 12:26, mrfrank said:

Thought the name rang a bell - just checked and Frank Burns is featured on a group photo I have of ‘A’ Company, 9th OCB taken in March 1917

PM if you’d like a crop photo of him and I’ll attempt to provide a decent image. 

 

Mike

 

I would love to have a better picture of him! the only picture I have of him is from the newspaper about his death

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rainb0w1987

this is the only picture I have of him on the right

37864403_10156412997510782_3859962738994315264_n.jpg

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mrfrank
Posted (edited)

Due to the size and tone of the image, this is the best I can do I'm afraid. He's the slightly shorter chap to the centre of the image. 

image.jpeg

 

Edited by mrfrank

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mrfrank

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rainb0w1987

@mrfrank is the one I circled my uncle Frank? 

IMG_20191108_030153.jpg

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mrfrank

That’s the one

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