Richard BURTON
Rank: Private
Number: 32585
Unit: 1/5th Battalion SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 23 March 1918
Age: 34
Cemetery: Gorre British & Indian Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Richard's father, also called Richard, had died by the time of the 1901 Census. His widow, Martha, was living at 20 Bakewell Street, Stockport with her four children, of whom Richard, at 17, was the youngest. His older siblings were Elizabeth (then 22), Alice (24) and George (27).

Richard was then working as a yarn pressman in a cotton mill and probably continued to work in the industry until he enlisted into the army. By then, he had married Bertha and they lived at 91 Ingleton Road, Edgeley.

When Richard was killed, he was serving with the 1/5th Territorial Battalion, but this was not the unit he joined in about 1916. His service number indicates his original Battalion was one of the "New Army " units established for the duration of the War only. It was probably the 7th or 8th Battalion and he was transferred when these were disbanded in February 1918.

On 21 March 1918, the German Army launched an overwhelming attack on British forces in the area of the Somme - the scene of the major battle in the summer and autumn of 1916. The South Lancashires were north of this area (about 4 kilometres north of the French town of Bethune) and were not involved in the fighting. The men were actually having a quiet time in their sector, although there would be the constant danger from enemy artillery or a trench raid. Neither the Battalion's own War Diary nor the History of the 55th Division makes any reference to 23 March and, as such, it is not possible to establish how Richard might have died. It is most likely that he was killed by shellfire.

   
           
   
     
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