Private Henry Edward Burgess

Date of Birth 19 September 1890
Age at Death 26
Date of Death 31 July 1917
Service Number 60161
Military Service 16th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Merton Address 6 Dorien Road, Raynes Park
Local Memorial St. Saviour’s Church, Raynes Park

Additional Information

Born in Battersea on 19 September 1890, Henry was the son of Charles and Mary Ann Burgess. In 1891, the family, including Henry’s elder brothers Charles and John and his sister Eliza were living at 49 Este Road, Battersea. Charles was employed as a Bootmaker. Henry was baptised on 19 October at St Peter’s Church, Battersea while the family was living at 124 Speke Road. By the time of the 1901 Census, the family had moved to 2 Foss Road, in the Summerstown area, and the family had grown to include Gladys, Amy and Violet May, and another brother Frederick.

In 1911, Henry was now aged 20, and had found employment as a Hotel Porter. His father Charles was still a Boot Repairer, while his younger brother Frederick was a Grocer’s Assistant. His elder brothers had by now left home, but another brother Richard had joined the family at 6 Dorien Road, Raynes Park. The Census reveals that there were eleven children in all, but that three of them had sadly died. In 1916, Henry married Rhoda Oberne in Croydon. Rhoda was from Mitcham and worked as a Domestic Servant.

Henry enlisted at Kingston-Upon-Thames initially with the Royal Army Service Corps. This unit was responsible for keeping the British Army supplied with provisions. The exceptions were weaponry and ammunition, which were under the remit of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. He then transferred to the16th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a Private.

On 31 July 1917, Henry’s Battalion took part in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, which was the opening attack of the Third Battle of Ypres (or Passchendaele). The attack against the German 4th Army commenced in heavy rain at 3.50am. The Battalion’s War Diary describes the battle in great detail, and reveals that there were 200 casualties. The Battalion’s Commanding Officer recorded the following:

“The weather throughout was deplorable and during nearly the whole of the above period the men were up to their knees in mud and water and the hardships on all ranks were great. The spirit of all ranks was excellent and the dash of the Battalion in the attack on the 31 July was beyond all expectation. The losses were unusually severe, but could not have been avoided, as even the advent of the rain made the ground so soft and muddy that many casualties were thereby saved.”

Sadly, Henry was one of those killed in action on that day, and was identified by his disc. He is buried at Artillery Wood Cemetery, Belgium where the inscription on his Cross reads, “THY WILL BE DONE”. He is also commemorated locally at St Saviours Parish Church, Raynes Park.

Harry’s wife Rhoda, remarried in 1919 to Harry Dickens, and moved to Liverpool. Harry’s younger brother Frederick served with the Hampshire Regiment and was killed in action on 9 August 1916. His story also appears on this website.


* Required field