August 5th 2016

 

Paddy Burton

Captain Paddy Burton (4th Bedfordshires)

Alongside the notification of the death of Robert Gibson, The Times yesterday also listed the death of Paddy Burton.

On July 27th, Paddy led an attack on Longueval by the 1st Bedfordshires (to whom he had been attached since May 1915). This was a success, but there were isolated pockets of resistance. He and another officer discussed how they could dislodge the Germans from a house, where a machine-gun was sweeping over the British position. Paddy decided on an attack with hand grenades, during which he fell wounded in the leg.

Company Sgt Major Afford went to his assistance, dressing his wound before attempting to carry him to a place of safety. During this, Paddy received a second wound, which proved to be fatal, a bullet having come through the lip of the shell hole, penetrated the lower part of his head.

Afford reported that Paddy “…remained conscious for a few hours, during which time I stayed with him and comforted him. His last words were to me, requesting me to carry on with the task he had so nobly set out to do…

At day-break I supervised his body being laid to rest close by the spot where he met his end.”

The day before he was killed, Paddy Burton reconnoitred the approaches to the village of Longueval together with another officer, who recalled:

“It was a very trying job, as our guide lost himself and we sent him back. We were under incessant shell-fire and we knew that a great part of the ground was exposed to snipers, and we had to find out absolutely everything for ourselves. I don’t think I could have done it without Paddy … He must have been at least as tired and depressed as I was, but he wouldn’t allow it to show.”

Paddy was one of those boys who make life ceaselessly interesting to a schoolmaster. It may be said that he was a strange compound of liberal and conservative, but what characterized him most was his independence of judgement and his pluck.

He was to have been married during his next leave.

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