Remembering Dan Burges VC : 18 September 2018

Date: Tuesday 18 September 2018

Location:  St Peters Church, Castle Park, Bristol BS1 3XB

This ceremony, which is open to the public, is part of the WW1 Victoria Cross commemorative stones programme.

Event timings (provisional):

  • 10:45 – invited guests arrive and assemble at St Peters Church, Castle Park, Bristol
  • 11:00 – formal welcome from The Rt Hon. The Lord Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Cleo Lake.  Speeches to follow by a military representative, the Lord Lieutenant (TBC) and a member of the family. The Last Post will be played and the plaque unveiled
  • 11:20 (approx.) – the Lord Mayor to bring formal proceedings to a close

Lt-Col. Burges’s VC was the second – and last – to be awarded in the campaign (the first went to ‘Stokey’ Lewis in October 1916) and was for his command of 7/South Wales Borderers on 18 September 1918:

On 18 September 1918 at Jumeaux, in the Balkans, valuable reconnaissance of the enemy front line trenches enabled Lieutenant Colonel Burges to bring his battalion, without casualties, to the assembly point, but later while some distance from the objective they came under severe machine-gun fire. Although he himself was wounded the colonel continued to lead his men with skill and courage until he was hit again twice and fell unconscious. He was taken prisoner by the Bulgarians, but was abandoned in a dug-out with one of his legs shattered. (see link below)

By coincidence I came across this account of a meeting with Lt-Col. Burges in On the Salonika Front 1916-1918 by ‘Home Guard’ (who was a junior officer in 2/Gloucestershire), a booklet published by the Norfolk and Norwich Branch of the Salonika Reunion Association in 1939, in aid of the Greek Red Cross Fund.

After about ten days’ nursing, I was able to get up for a few hours each day, and visited Colonel Dan Burgess [sic], VC. He was in a small ward by himself, and had a leg amputated only a few days previously.

Colonel Burgess was a 2nd Gloucester, but had been sent from us to command one of the Kitchener battalions on the Doiran front, and had been wounded in that hopeless attack on Grand Corrone [Couronne]. He told me his experiences; how after being wounded, he had lain out in No Man’s Land for some hours until he was seen by two German machine-gunners. They had carried him to their trench and done the best they could for him, even feeding him with ham and bread. Later some Bulgars took him down a mountain path to a hospital tent; they carried him in a bivouac sheet, and he suffered agonies with his wounded leg. At the hospital surgical necessities were scarce, but his wound was dressed and bandaged with bandages made of paper. In a day or two the Bulgar retreat commenced; he and other British wounded were left behind, and had a very bad time until reached by our troops. Owing to the lack of proper attention, gangrene set in and eventually his leg had to be amputated.

In February 1919 Lt-Col. Burges VC made a speech in Bristol to honour the city’s WW1 heroes, which was recorded in a local paper. My thanks go to his family for providing this cutting:Speech of Lt-Col. Dan Burges VC at the Colston Hall Ceremony to honour Bristolian heroes of WW1 in February 1919. As reported in the Western Daily Press, 17 February 1919.Speech of Lt-Col. Dan Burges VC at the Colston Hall Ceremony to honour Bristolian heroes of WW1 in February 1919. As reported in the Western Daily Press, 17 February 1919.

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Author: Andy Hutt

Andy's interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Arthur, who served in Salonika as a sapper with the Royal Engineers from 1916-1918. Opinions expressed in these posts are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.

2 thoughts on “Remembering Dan Burges VC : 18 September 2018”

  1. Hi
    My name is Janet Patrick
    My great uncle Walter Southwood was killed on 18.9.18 and is buried in the Doiran Milititary cemetery .
    I have travelled to Thessaloniki and will be at his graveside on 18.9.28 – the only family member to have done so.
    It might have been nearer to attend the service in Bristol. This is only a stones throw from his and my home town of Abergavenny

  2. Bristol might be nearer, but that will be all about Dan Burges VC, so I’m sure you won’t regret visiting Walter’s grave on the anniversary of his death. I recommend the view of Doiran town and lake from the Memorial on Colonial Hill. It’s a beautiful and peaceful view and difficult to appreciate how different it was 100 years ago. I wish you a good visit and hope the sun shines for you.

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