Saturday, 30 April 2011

Samuel Burt

Samuel Burt
Born in 1894 at Cubert, Cornwall  Died 17 April 1918 in or around the Lys Valley
Pte 240821 1/5 Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Samuel was the eighth of nine children born to his parents Samuel Burt and Ellen Jane Rippon.  He had three brothers, John, Edward and Frederick, but I can find no record of their having served in the war; this doesn't mean that they didn't - the majority of World War 1 records were burnt in the Blitz.  Had Samuel not been killed I would have no record of him either.  Samuel also had five sisters; Margaretta, Elizabeth Jane (who may have died before 1901), Ethel and Mabel.  The family were brought up in Cubert, in the hamlet of Tresean.

Samuel Burt Snr had a hard life.  By the age of twelve he was already labouring at a mine.  He also worked as an agricultural labourer, an iron miner and a quarryman.  He spent his early years living in his grandfather's house with his grandparents, their unmarried daughters and his sister.  It is possible that he and his sister were illegitimate.  In 1880 Samuel married Ellen Jane Rippon, a Perranzabuloe woman slightly his senior.  They made their home in the area Samuel grew up.

Samuel Burt Jnr joined the 1/5 Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, like many other young men from the area.  The Battalion was converted to a Pioneer Battalion in April 1916 and was attached to 61st (2nd Midland) Division.  They left England for Le Havre, landing on 22 May 1916.

Unfortunately Samuel's Division's first action, at Fromelles, was disastrous.  The attack at Fromelles was part of the larger offensive to the south on the Somme.  The Division did not succeed in making any impression on the enemy, gained no ground nor drew enemy reserves away from the fighting on the Somme.  They did however sustained heavy casualties. The Division, with its reputation severely tarnished, was used for the remainder of the year in holding trench lines. 

During 1917 Samuel might have been involved with his Division's operations at Ancre and Cambrai as well as the Battle of Langemarck, which was a part of the larger 3rd Battle of Ypres.  In March 1918 the Division was faced with a massive offensive from the German army.  The Division was in a forward position and faced three enemy Divisions.  Many men were lost during the fighting on 21/22 March, but Samuel lived to fight again, this time in the Battle of the Lys.

I believe that Samuel must have been killed either during the Battle of Estaires or Hazebrouck, both of which were phases of the larger Battle of Lys.  Samuel's body was not recovered but he is commemorated at the Loos Memorial on Panel 68.

There are still Burts in and around Newquay today although I don't know if they are directly related to Samuel.  I have established that his eldest sister, Margaretta, did not marry and died in 1944.

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