Douglas BURCHALL
Rank: Private
Number: 198962
Unit: 28th Battalion (Saskatchewan Regiment) CANADIAN INFANTRY
Date of Death: 12 May 1918
Age: 26
Cemetery: Ligny-St.Flochel British Cemetery, Averdoingt, Pas de Calais, France

In 1901, the Burchall family was living at 111 George Lane, Bredbury. 51 year old William Burchall was a teacher. His wife, Margaret, who was a couple of years older, was the mother to their five children. Douglas was by far the youngest, having been born on 7 October 1891. His older siblings were Mary (17), Thomas (21), Torfirda (14) and William (26).

Nothing is known about Douglas' early life but, at some point, he emigrated to make a new life for himself in Canada. He settled in Kenora in Ontario where he earned his living as a car inspector. By 1916, he had married Aileen.

Unlike many of his compatriots, Douglas had not rushed to join the army when war was declared in August 1914. It would not be until 15 February 1916, that he went to Kenora's recruiting office to make his attestation. His enlistment papers can be viewed on-line at the Canadian National Archives and these show him to have been a man of average height for those days - standing 5 feet 7 inches. He was stocky, though - his chest measurement being 39 inches and he could expand it a further 4 inches. Douglas had a clear complexion with brown hair and blue eyes. He recorded that he worshipped as a Baptist.

The 28th Battalion had been formed in 1914 and went overseas the following year, initially comprised of men from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. After training, Douglas probably joined it in the early autumn of 1916, as part of a draft of replacements for casualties. His first experience of a major attack may have come on 15 September, when the Canadians took part in an attack near Courcelette as part of the Battle of the Somme.

In the middle of May 1918, Douglas and his comrades were in front line trenches near Neuville Vitasse (about 5 kilometres south of the centre of the French town of Arras). Sometime during this tour of duty, Douglas was fatally wounded. It is most likely that this will have been the day he died or the one before. The Battalion's War Diary records that, on the 11th, there was some shelling by the enemy artillery, particularly towards evening, and that three soldiers were wounded. The next day, there was another barrage around 3.45am and 8 men were wounded during the day.

Douglas would have received attention from the Battalion's own medical officer just behind the front line and he would then have been evacuated to 7th Casualty Clearing Station (mobile hospital) at Averdoingt, about 35 kilometres away. There, military surgeons would have done all they could to save his life, but without success.

   
           
   
     
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