S BURNS
Rank:
Number:
Unit: MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death:
Age:
Cemetery:

The name of S Burns appears on the Stockport War Memorial amongst those serving with the Manchester Regiment. Identification of him at first appeared to be easy. The Stockport Local Heritage Library holds an extract from the Cheshire Daily Echo, 21 July 1916, reporting his death from wounds received. It gives some biographical details and a photograph attributed to Samuel Burns

However, this proved to be the only information that indicated he had died. In fact, it proved to be the only information that he might have ever existed. There was no record held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission of a man called Burns dying on 16 July 1916. Furthermore, there was no death certificate in either the UK or Overseas Deaths Registers: no record of him in the 1901 Census and no record of the local birth of man of the right age and name. Samuel Burns was a mystery.

It was only when drawing together project information that the information on another man,  Samuel Knowles, became interesting. He had died from wounds on the same day. Further checks at the Library revealed another newspaper report of Knowles' death - including the same biographical details and the same photograph as that of Burns. The difference was that Knowles' life and death was well documented.

The only reasonable conclusion is that the newspaper made an error and that Samuel Burns, if he ever existed, did not die. Probably at some later point when the names were being collected for inclusion on the Stockport Memorial, Burns' name was submitted based solely on the newspaper report. A case, if ever there was one, of not believing everything you read in the papers.

   
           
   
     
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