Tuesday, 24 October 2006

A ceremony was held on Tuesday, 24th October 2006, in Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol, to commemorate Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Burges VC, DSO, of the Gloucestershire Regiment, who commanded the 7th Bn, South Wales Borderers at the time of his Victoria Cross action in the Balkans in 1918.

Following his death in 1946 Daniel Burges was cremated in Arno's Vale Crematorium but no memorial was erected in the cemetery to recognise this gallant soldier. This was rectified on Tuesday by local historian Les Turner who earlier had set out to rectify this lack of recognition by starting a project to raise the necessary funds to manufacturer a fitting memorial stone to commemorate Lieutenant Colonel Burges.

The stone was unveiled by Les Turner, Project Coordinator, and Richard Smith, of the Arno's Vale Cemetery Trust, who will be caring for the memorial plaque. During 2007 there are plans to demolished a cemetery chapel, built in the 1950s, and in its place will be constructed a walled Garden of Remembrance where Daniel Burges' memorial stone will be placed in a prominent position.

Attending the ceremony were members of the Burges family, representatives of the Gloucestershire Regiment, The South Wales Borderers, and the Royal British Legion, Bristol Branch. Other friends and supporters of Arno's Vale Cemetery turned up along with representatives from the press and media.

On the outbreak of WWI Daniel Burges was commanding the 3rd ( Special Reserve ) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment in Bristol and subsequently served as a company commander in the 2nd Battalion in Flanders until wounded in the second battle of Ypres. After being promoted major in September 1915 Burges commanded the 10th ( Service ) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, in Egypt and then France, until returning home as an Instructor at Senior Officers' School at Aldershot.

On 18th September 1917 he was given the temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel and command of the 7th ( Service ) Battalion, South Wales Borderers on the Doiran Front ( region of Macedonia ).

From the 15th September 1918 the Allied barrage had come down on the whole of the Macedonian front line. The barrage lifted early on the morning of the 18th September followed by an infantry attack against the Grand Couronne. The day was very hot and the position to be captured was 2,000 ft high and strongly defended by concrete and barbed wire a hundreds yard thick.

The 7th Bn, South Wales Borderers, a left flanking battalion led by Colonel Burges, managed to reach their first position with very few casualties and then moved forward through the scrub, capturing two hills and stopping just short of the slopes of Grand Couronne. However, their two right-hand flanking battalions, the 11th Welsh and 11th Royal Welch Fusiliers, together with the 3rd Greek Regiment had not been allowed to enjoy the same success and the 11th Welsh suffered enormous casualties. The Borderers had no choice but to retire after reaching within 250 yards of the summit. By now an earlier haze had lifted and they were cut to pieces by machine gun fire from three sides and suffered heavy casualties.

General Franchet d'Esperey as the Allied forces' commander-in-chief was so impressed with the efforts and gallantry of the 7th Bn, South Wales Borderers that he awarded the battalion the French Croix de Guerre.

A Battalion animated by a remarkable spirit and a lofty sence of duty. On 18th September 1918 under the energetic leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Burges, it attacked the enemy's positions, climbing a steep slope under a hail of shells and the fire of trench mortars and machine guns. In spite of heavy losses it pressed on with no thought but to reach the enemy and thereby gave proof of its tenacity and offensive spirit, and formed an example of self sacrifice worthy of the highest praise.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 14 December 1918 ], Jumeaux, The Balkans, 18 September 1918, Major ( Temperorary Lieutenant Colonel ) Daniel Burges, The Gloucestershire Regiment, comd 7th Bn, South Wales Borderers

For most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and devotion to duty in the operations at Jumeaux ( Balkans ) on the 18th September 1918. His valuable reconnaissance of the enemy first line trenches enabled him to bring his battalion without casualties to the assembly point, and from thence he maintained direction with great skill, though every known landmark was completely obscured by smoke and dust.

When still some distance from his objective the battalion came under severe machine-gun fire which caused many casualties among company leaders. Lt.-Col. Burges, though himself wounded, quite regardless of his own safety, kept moving to and fro through his command, encouraging his men and assisting them to maintain formation and direction. Finally, as they neared the enemy’s position, he led them forward through a decimating fire until he was hit again twice and fell unconscious. His coolness and personal courage were most marked throughout and afforded a magnificent example to all ranks.

Daniel Burges was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 21st December 1918.

[ London Gazette, 3 June 1918 ], Created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Major ( T / Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Burges, The Gloucestershire Regiment, comd 7th Bn, South Wales Borderers

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of His Majesty's Birthday, to approve of the undermentioned rewards for distinguished service in connection with military operations in Salonika.

Following the end of the war Burges held an appointment at the War Office as Inspector of Quartermaster-General's services, he became Commandant of the Military Detention Barracks at Cologne, and later held a similar appointment at Colchester. In 1923 he went on retired pay and shortly afterwards was made Resident Governer and Major of the Tower of London. Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Burges died at his home in Bristol on 24th October 1946, aged 73, and was cremated at Arno's Vale Crematorium.

The medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Burges - The Gloucestershire Regiment,
comd 7th Bn, South Wales Borderers

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO )
  • Queen's South Africa Medal ( 1899-1902 )
    • 4 clasps:
    • "Relief of Kimberley" - "Paardeberg" - "Driefontein" - "Transvaal"
  • King's South Africa Medal ( 1901-02 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "South Africa 1901" - "South Africa 1902"
  • 1914 - 15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Croix de Guerre ( France )
  • Military Cross ( 2nd Class ) ( Greece )


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Iain Stewart, 24 October 2006