Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
5 Nov 1918
War time / or Pre War occupation
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Pte William Edwin Burgess, A/437681, Expeditionary Force Canteen, Army Service Corps, died in the 53rd Stationary Hospital in Russia on November 5th, 1918. A telegram to his widow said he had died of dysentery, but his military files show he died of a fractured spine following a fall from a gangway, and an inquiry said no-one else was to blame in the accident. William had gone to Russia seven weeks before his death.
In a subsequent letter Major W. H. Leush wrote: “He was our first casualty out here and it was most unfortunate. On arrival here he was suffering from dysentery and was conveyed straight from the ship to hospital, but recovered sufficiently to walk out for a few hours each day and on each occasion went to our nearest Naval Army Canteen Board store at Archangel to see if he could assist them. He was very keen to get to work but was not pressed to do so.
“On the day he was discharged from hospital he went to our stores at the vodka factory. It was dark on arrival there and, whilst going from a building to a barge that was unloading, he met with a mishap of which nobody knew until he was heard calling for help. After taking him into a building and dressing a bad wound in his head he was put in the ambulance and taken to a temporary hospital close by, from which he was transferred to the same hospital he had just been discharged from on the previous day. He, however, died the same night at 6.30.
I applied for a special court enquiry as to how he came by his injuries (and his treatment afterwards). This court of independent officers inquired most minutely into all the details and found that he came by his injuries by falling a distance of about 10 feet through an opening in the bridge on to his head, and that he died from fractured dislocation of the spine as a result.
“Medical evidence proved that nothing could have saved his life after that fall, although every possible help was given him. He was buried in the General Cemetery at Archangel, his funeral being attended by officers and men of the N.A.C.B. And other units.
“We all regret this sad incident very much, for your husband earned the goodwill of all his comrades, and at the hospital I was assured he was a most genial and cheerful patient during his first period there, and even on his last day he maintained the same reputation.”
Prior to joining up, Pte Burgess was an insurance agent with the Liverpool Victoria Insurance Society. He was also a local preacher and an active worker in the High Town Primitive Methodist Church, including being a Sunday school teacher.
Born at Mangrove in 1875, William had married Annie Impey at Waller Street Methodist Church on December 26th, 1900. The couple had one son, Reginald William (born 1905) and lived at 448 Hitchin Road, Luton.