William Leo BURTON
Rank: Lance Sergeant
Number: PLY 256 (S)
Unit: Drake Battalion Royal Naval Division
Date of Death: 29 September 1918
Cemetery: Anneux British Cemetery, Nord, France

Nothing is known of William’s early life, although he may be the boy of this name whose birth was registered in Birkenhead in 1891.

In the late autumn of 1914, he married Theresa Hines in a civil ceremony at Stockport. He enlisted into the forces at about the same time. The Royal Naval Division was formed just after the declaration of War in August 1914 and its original members were Royal Marines and naval reservists for whom no ship could be found at the time. They were brought together to fight on land as infantry but they proudly retained many of their naval traditions. William joined Plymouth Battalion on 6 February. He went into action at Gallipoli on 26 April and was shot in the left hand the same day. He was evacuated back to the UK – the troops would have called it a “Blighty wound” and it was not until September 1916 that he was fit enough to return to duty.

On that day, he was drafted to camp at Etaples in France where he remained until 22 October. He was then returned to the UK again, this time suffering from dysentery and it seems that it was not until 1918 when he could rejoin.

He was posted to Hawke battalion, joining it on 30 August. Less than a month later, he was dead. He had been killed in action during fighting at the German defensive system known as the Hindenberg Line.

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