WW1 Casualty: Rifleman 240971 Thomas Burrows -
Rifleman 240971 Thomas Burrows
||1st/5th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
|Date of Death
Serre Road Cemetery No 2
XX D 12
|SDGW – Where Born
||Died of Wounds
||Theatre of War
||France & Flanders
||Also served as 3067, South Lancs. Regt.
|Research Ref. No.
Thomas Burrows attested into the 5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, as Private 3067 on 29th October 1914, giving his address as Kemble Street, Prescot. He was aged 24 years and 7 months, and stood 5 foot three inches tall, with “Good” physical development.
The 5th Battalion had just started its annual training in camp when war broke out in August 1914. It was sent to Edinburgh until October, then moved to Tunbridge Wells until February 1915. It was then ordered to France, sailing on the 13th aboard s.s. King Edward, arriving at Le Havre the same day.
Thomas Burrows embarked for France with reinforcements for his regiment on 7th May 1915, arriving there the following day.
As part of the great Battle of the Somme, launched on 1st July 1916, the 8th August saw the battalion receive orders to capture the village of Guillemont, which had defied all previous attempts at capture and was a thorn in the side of the British forces. The attack commenced at 4.20 a.m. and initially all objectives were taken despite strong resistance. By the end of the day, the Railway Station and the front line trenches in front of the village were in allied hands. Orders were then received to be ready to continue the attack the following morning.
Zero hour was again at 4.20 a.m. and the initial assault was met with withering machine gun fire from the German defenders, resulting in the troops falling back to their starting points. This also resulted in the companies being heavily mixed up and it was noon before reorganisation was complete. After this, the battalion remained near Trones Wood until the 10th, clearing the dead of the previous two days of battle and consolidating the ground won at such a heavy cost. On the evening of the 10th, they were withdrawn to bivouac and then on the 12th returned to the line at Maltz Horn Farm.
Thomas Burrows’ casualty form shows that he was wounded in action on the 9th/10th August 1916 and was listed as missing. The records go on to say he died of wounds on 9th August 1916.
The Battalion War Diary for that date is reproduced below.
August 8 12midnight
Operation orders for attack received and Btn moves forward to get into position for an attack. 166 Inf Bde ordered to attack as follows:
1st Objective: Enemy front line from T25 b 1.5 through T25 a 3.3 to S24 d 65.75
2nd Objective: The capture of GUILLEMONT and of a line on the eastern side of the village from T25 b 1.5 to the Railway T19 b 0.3. 10th Liverpool Scottish to attack on the right and 5th Loyal North Lancs Regt on the left. The boundary between being TRONES WOOD – GUILLEMONT Road as far as T25 a 0.8. Thence a straight line running North East through the Church to the GUILLEMONT – LEOZE WOOD Road, to 5th Loyal North Lancs Regt. 5th South Lancs Regt to support the right Btn. Zero hour 4.30am.
In moving up valley was found blocked with troops and transport.
August 9 2am
Commanding Officer with Adjutant arrived at proposed Btn Hqrs A5d 8g and found 2 Btn 165 Inf Bde (5th and 7th Kings Liverpool) in possession. Informed 166 Inf Bde Hqrs and were told to move up to Sunken Road T30c
August 9 3am
Established Hqrs in Sunken Road. Company Officers warned of changed Hqrs and sent for to explain changed scheme of attack as issued in Operation orders. No time to go into detail or for Coy Comdrs to explain to Coy Officers and N.C.O’s as attack was timed for 4.20am. Owing to all N.C.O’s and Btn and Coy runners having no idea of the country and the sunken road being crowded with men of 164 Bde great delay was caused in getting the Coys out in position.
August 9 3.55am
North Lancs just arriving and Officer in Command said he had only just heard that they were going to attack.
August 9 4.15am
Our guns opened a Heavy Barrage and the Germans dropped their Barrage within 3 minutes. Their back barrage line being our sunken road. Companies not all in position had to move thro Barrage. Those in position moved forward behind assaulting waves but whole line was unable to make headway owing to machine gun fire and heavy barrage. Whole line fell back and manned our original front line, Coys hopelessly intermixed with men of other attacking battalions.
August 9 12noon
Orders to withdraw Coys from line and relieve 1/5 Loyal North Lancs in Left Sector in front of TRONES WOOD. Relief completed 5pm. 5th Kings Own relieved 10th Liverpool Regt, on our right, also during afternoon.
August 9 5pm to August 10 midday
Btn worked hard clearing trenches and consolidating line.
August 10 4pm
Relief started by 8th West Kent Regt 72nd Bde. Relief complete 8pm and Btn moved back to Bivouacs in F22.
Total casualties from 12 midnight 8th to 12 midnight 10th 8 Officers 130 other ranks.
Thomas Burrows rests in Serre Road Cemetery No 2, which was begun in May 1917, when the clearance of the Somme battlefields was underway.
The Parish Magazine reported (date not known), “Pte Thomas Burrows, aged 27, of 35, Cyprus Street. 5th South Lancs. Killed in France 8th August 1916”
On 29th November 1916, the War Office wrote to the Army records Office to advise them that any personal effects of Thomas Burrows were to be sent to his mother, Catherine Burrows, at 35, Cyprus Street, Prescot. This letter shows that Burrows service number had been changed to 240971 (as part of the renumbering which took place in 1916).
The War Office returned Private Burrows few possessions to his mother on 17th December 1917. They consisted of “cards, letters and photos”. Catherine Burrows acknowledged receipt of these possession by way of marking a cross on the form, as she could not write. The mark was witnessed by Councillor Lucas, J.P.
Catherine Burrows “mark”, witnessed by William Lucas, J.P.
In 1919, the Army Records Office sent a form to his mother, Catherine Burrows, asking for details of Private Burrows’ blood relatives. She completed the form to note that he had no wife or children, She wrote his father’s name as “Henry”, but then crossed it out. It is assumed that this means Henry was deceased, as the form should only have details of living relatives.
The form then lists Thomas’ brother as William Henry Burrows, aged 30, of 32 Cross Street, Prescot and his sister as Mary Burrows, aged 28 and living in Manchester.
Private Burrows medals, the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, were issued to his mother in April 1921.
His Medal Index Card records his arrival in France on 6th May 1915, which conflicts with his service records by two days. This qualified him for the 1914-1915 Star in addition to the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He will have been serving with his original service number at that time. The card further notes that he died of wounds,
Thomas Burrows grave at Serre Road Cemetery No 2