Anthony Ray Edward (Ray) BURFORD

Poppy

BURFORD, Anthony Ray Edward

Service Number: 3042
Enlisted: 9 August 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Jamestown, South Australia, 18 December 1891
Home Town: Jamestown, Northern Areas, South Australia
Schooling: Jamestown Public School
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in action, Armentieres, France, 20 July 1916, aged 24 years
Cemetery: VC Corner Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, France
His name is located at panel 120 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT.
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial (South Australia), Jamestown HB04 WW1 Baptist*, Jamestown Memorial Arch*
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World War 1 Service

9 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3042, Adelaide, South Australia
12 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3042, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
12 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3042, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Medic, Adelaide
6 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 32nd Infantry Battalion
16 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3042, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Pozières

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Biography

Known as Ray.

Born  18/12/1891.
Sthn Australian Birth records:Source:  1842 - 1906 Book: 492 Page: 400 District: Cla.

Eldest of two sons of Lieutenant William John Henry BURFORD and
Mother  Caroline Amelia (nee Goodes), living in Jamestown, South Australia.

Spent the greater portion of his life in Jamestown.

Next of kin in service:
Younger brother   728 - Warrant Officer William 'Claude' Burford
                                   4/9/1914   enlisted with 12th Battalion
                                   17/9/1914 embarked - fought in Gallipoli and Egypt
                                   11/6/1916 disembarked into France with 4th Pioneer Battalion
                                   3/8/1916   killed in action, Pozieres, France

He was a member of the lacrosse team (which he played with Private 3815 Hadley Mitchell)
and of the Methodist Tennis Club.  His clean, manly ways made him very popular with his
club mates.

He was also a member of the Foresters Lodge.

Previous service:
Private in B Squadron, 24th Light Horse Regiment

Described on enlisting as 23 years 8 months old; single; 5' 10 1/2" tall; 148 lbs;
fresh complexion; blue eyes; dark hair; Baptist.

5/8/1915      completed medical - fit for service

9/8/1915      Enlisted in Adelaide
                   - with his best friend 3034 Private Arthur Edmond Brooks (24 yrs old)

9/8/1915      Commanding Officer appointed Ray to B Company, 2nd Depot Battalion,
                   Mitcham Camp

16/9/1915    Appointed to 7th reinforcements, 27th Battalion

12/1/1916    Embarked from Outer Harbour, Pt Adelaide, on board HMAT Medic A7
                   as a Private in the 27th Infantry Battalion, 7th reinforcements

During his stay in Egypt, he met his younger brother Sergeant W Claude Burford.

After training in Egypt, he, with several other Jamestown boys, were drafted into
the 32nd Battalion and proceeded on to France.

6/4/1916      taken on strength into 32nd Battalion - Duntroon Plateaux

17/6/1916    embarked on board HMT Transylvania, ex Alexandria
                   to join British Expeditionary Forces
23/6/1916    disembarked into Marseilles, France

20/7/1916    Private Ray Burford was reported missing - after the Battle of Armentieres

 

By Patrick Lindsay:  The Battle of Fromelles:

"Gallipoli was a picnic. Here it was a slaughterhouse."  Yves Fohlen, French historian, 2007

Around 6pm on Wednesday 19 July 1916, in full daylight on a clear summer's day, the Diggers of the 5th Australian Division charged from their trenches to attack the heavily entrenched German front line near a tiny village called Fromelles in French Flanders.

The Australians had only arrived in France a few days earlier. About half were veterans of the Gallipoli campaign, the other half raw reinforcements, yet to fire a shot in anger. They were thrown against the German front line, along with the 61st British Division to their right, as a diversion to support the massive British offensive then in the balance at The Somme, which had begun 19 days earlier about 80 km to the south.

To reach the German lines, the Diggers had to cross no-man's-land - in most parts, the length of two football fields end to end - and run a deadly gauntlet, through a constant artillery bombardment past nests of machine-guns, each capable of spewing 600 rounds a minute. There was no cover, only the scattered shelter of craters torn from the earth as the artillery projectiles, some as big as car engines, pounded into the soil. The Germans had positioned their machine-guns with lethal efficiency, especially at the jutting headland known as the Sugar Loaf where they could fire to both sides along the killing field as well as to the front.

Even before they made their charge, the Australian casualties had mounted. The German gunners had the range of their trenches and all around men fell, luckless victims of the hail of shrapnel and jagged chunks of high-explosive metal. In places, whole sections of trenches and the men sheltering in them were blown into small pieces and tossed high into the air.

The Diggers had faith in their leaders. They'd been told that their artillery would smash the German defences, tearing open the barbed wire and the bunkers and killing the defenders or sending them fleeing. One of their most trusted chiefs, Brigadier General Harold 'Pompey' Elliott, was with them in the front lines and he said: 'Boys, you won't find a German in the trenches when you get there'.

He was wrong. And the Diggers were wrong to place their faith in the men who sent them out on this attack. Cocooned in purpose-built concrete bunkers, the German machine gunners survived the Allied artillery bombardment and emerged to sweep no-man's-land with withering waves of fire. Private Jimmy Downing of the 57th Battalion described what he saw as he waited with a reserve battalion.

"Stammering scores of German machine-guns spluttered violently, drowning the noise of the cannonade. The air was thick with bullets, swishing in a flat, criss-crossed lattice of death ... Hundreds were mown down in the flicker of an eyelid, like great rows of teeth knocked from a comb ... Men were cut in two by streams of bullets [that] swept like whirling knives ... It was the Charge of the Light Brigade once more, but more terrible, more hopeless - magnificent, but not war - a valley of death filled by somebody's blunder."   -   Private Jimmy Downing, 57th Battalion

Amazingly, despite the losses and against all the odds, hundreds of Diggers managed to break through the German frontline, forced the defenders to retire and pushed almost a kilometre into their territory. But, without support, with faulty intelligence and lacking a proper objective, they advanced too far and were trapped by German counter-attacks and eventually either killed or captured.

The Australian casualties were devastating - 5533 out of around 7000 attackers, with almost 2000 killed - the greatest loss of life in a night in Australian history. The dead included 25 sets of brothers and two sets of father and son.

The British 61st Division made no impression against the powerful German defences. It lost 519 killed out of 1547 casualties while German defenders against both Allied forces suffered about 1000 casualties.

 

12/8/1917    Court of Inquiry, held in the field - confirmed that Private Ray Burford
                   was killed in action in the field

 

From "Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau Report":-
"20 July 1916 -  It was Ray Burford, he was last seen in No-Man's Land, with a terrible wound
to his stomach - in the Fleurbeix area."

Private 3815 Hadley Mitchell - best friends of Anthony, wrote constantly to the Red Cross,
to enquire about Anthony (and other close friends), when finally on 13/7/1917:-

13/7/1917
"Dear madam,
 Thanks very much for advising me re Pvt A R E Burford, 32nd Btn.  Your letter
 only confirms my worst fears and that is that I have lost my best pal........."

Medals:
British War medal (29895); Victory medal (29713) and
Memorial Plaque and Memorial Scroll (329619).

Thank you to Mrs Barbara I Parri and Mrs Kaye B Bottrall, from Jamestown, SA
for their research.

Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  3/1/2015.  Lest we forget.

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