Robert Venn (Bob) BURTON

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BURTON, Robert Venn

Service Numbers: 619, 619A
Enlisted: 5 February 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Yankalilla, South Australia, 13 December 1897
Home Town: Yorketown, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College, Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Student
Died: Killed in Action, Zonnebeke, Belgium, 4 October 1917, aged 19 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient), Yorketown War Memorial, Yorketown and District of Melville Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

5 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
9 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 619, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
9 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 619, 43rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Afric, Adelaide
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 619A, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres

Memories of a Fallen Saint

Robert Venn Burton of Yorketown was born at Yankalilla, South Australia in December 1897.
When he enlisted at Yorketown in February 1916 he had had served four years in the senior cadets, and was still a student at the School.
On 9 June, Private Burton, D Company, 43rd Battalion sailed from Adelaide aboard HMAT Afric and during the voyage was charged with neglect to obey a regulation; Lieutenant Colonel Gordon found him guilty and awarded him a reprimand.
Failing to place hammock in the appointed place at the appointed time.
During the fighting at Armentières on 4 January 1917, he sustained multiple shrapnel wounds and a gunshot wound to his buttock and was evacuated to 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station. He was transferred to 13th General Hospital, Boulogne on 7 January and a few days later s placed aboard the Hospital Ship Glenart Castle bound for England where he was admitted to No 1 Eastern General Hospital.
He was given two weeks furlough in February, but as he was still not fit for full duty when he returned he was held for further convalescence at 1st Command Depot, Perham Downs.
When the 70th Battalion was raised at Wareham in late March to form part of a new Australian division, the 6th Division, Robert and many other previously wounded men joined the battalion.
However, when low recruiting and the high numbers of casualties suffered at Bullecourt and Messines soon made it clear the formation of an additional AIF division would not be possible. This caused the officers and men of the half formed 6th Division in England to be reallocated to the existing under strength battalions of the divisions on the Western Front.
In early September, 19 year old Lance Corporal Burton sailed for France as a reinforcement for his old battalion, rejoined the 43rd in the field on 20 September and was killed in action on 4 October.
Witness statements
When interviewed in March 1918, Private John Miller said, ‘I knew Burton for 18 months; he was tall, medium build, medium brown hair, about 22, a college man when he enlisted, and came from near Edithburg, South Australia. On the 4th October the Battalion was at Zonnebeke on the Ypres sector, and in action.’
He said that after taking the objective they began to dig in and Burton was in a shell hole with two other men when a shell fell and hit Burton killing him instantaneously and wounding the others; they later died of wounds.
‘Burton was buried where he fell. I could point out the place. We were there for 36 hours till relieved. I was wounded a few hours after, came out, and was never there again.’
In March 1918 Corporal John Charles Mullaly told the interviewing officer he saw Burton ‘killed by a shell; whilst we were in the front line after the hop over at Zonnebeke. I could not say if he was buried. I knew him in the coy, I could not say what [unit] he came over with. He came from South Australia. Description. Age. 24. Height. 5-8. Complexion. medium. Well built.’
Robert’s brother Leonard Jamieson Burton (OS) suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder at Merris in 1918 and after recovering sufficiently was transferred to the Australian Army Pay Corps; he returned to Australia after the war.

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Biography

Son of William and Effie Burton of Yorketown, South Australia.

Robert Venn Burton of Yorketown was born at Yankalilla, South Australia in December 1897.When he enlisted at Yorketown in February 1916 he had had served four years in the senior cadets, and was still a student at the School.During the fighting at Armentières on 4 January 1917, he sustained multiple shrapnel wounds and a gunshot wound to his buttock and was evacuated to 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station. He was transferred to 13th General Hospital, Boulogne on 7 January and a few days later was placed aboard the Hospital Ship Glenart Castle bound for England where he was admitted to No 1 Eastern General Hospital.  - Short extract from book Fallen Saints released April 2015   

Brother Leonard Jamieson Burton enlisted on 7 July 1917 and embarked with the 25th quota of reinforcements for the 10th Battalion; he was wounded in action at Merris but survived the war.

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