As many of the Army records for World War One were destroyed during the London bombing of the second World War, it was great to discover that the newspaper, Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Gazette featured full page spreads during the first world war years of the local lads who were wounded, killed or missing. It featured photos of at least a dozen soldiers with a paragraph or two about each person.
My father’s English second cousin, Lance Corporal Charles Burns, the son of Mary Ann Pye and Zachariah Burns, was pictured in the newspaper. I knew that Charles Burns had died on 7 June, 1918 and had assumed that he had been killed in action, but this article revealed a different story.
It read, “Lance Corporal Charles Burns who has been missing since May 27, when he was in action with the Rifle Brigade, is now known by his parents … To be a prisoner of war at Limburg, Germany.”
I wonder if Charles was wounded when he was captured as he died within days of capture and cannot have been at the camp for long. An interesting detail about the camp at Limburg was that Irish prisoners were sent there in the attempt to recruit them to form an Irish Brigade in the German Army.
Charles Burns is buried in the Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille situated on the outskirts of Boulogne, France. This cemetery was only opened in the month of Charles’s death, therefore I am uncertain if Charles’s body was one of those reinterred here after the War.
The newspaper article was published on 2 November 1918 which was five months after Charles had died. It is sad to think that his parents were still hopeful of his wellbeing. The article also reported that Charles’s brother, George Burns, had been wounded and returned to home service in England.