Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
28 Apr 1917
War time / or Pre War occupation
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Pte William Burkitt, 90012, 136th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, was killed on April 28th, 1917, by a shell which made a direct hit on the cellar in which he and four comrades were sheltering during the Battle of Arras. Three of the friends were killed outright.
The Rev Evan Mathias wrote to William's widow, Florence, living at 54 Guildford Street, Luton. He said her husband was on duty at the Advanced Dressing Station of his Ambulance and had just gone to get tea with his four comrades in the cellar of a house in a nearby village. A shell made a direct hit on the cellar, killing three of them outright and wounding the other two.
The clergyman said these were the first casualties sustained by the Ambulance since it had been in that locality, "a fact which is remarkable when one remembers the peril in which the man have often been while at their work of carrying in the wounded".
He said the three bodies were brought down to the headquarters of the Ambulance and buried on April 30th in a little British cemetery which it had been necessary to begin creating in the village. It was situated in a shady spot under the trees, just behind the ruined village church.
The colonel and all the available officers and men of the Ambulance attended the funeral, and the bodies were covered in Union Jacks and borne on stretchers at the head of a procession to the graveside, where Rev Mathias said he had the sad privilege of officiating. Crosses of oak with a plain durable inscription were being made to go on the graves.
Pte Burkitt was aged 19 when he enlisted in the R.A.M.C. in May 1915. He was first stationed in Ireland before going out to the front about seven months before his death.
He was the only son of Albert and Annie Burkitt, of 12 Henry Street, Luton, and had married Florence Henrietta Croft at St Mary's Church, Luton, on February 19th, 1916. He was employed as a brewery labourer by J. W. Green.
Florence's father, Henry, was aged 53 but had served in the Royal Defence Corps since October 1914.