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William Burns (1889-1918)

From Dawdon. Died of wounds three days before the Armistice.

Born in North Shields, William Burns was working as a labourer, when he enlisted in Newcastle in August 1914 and joined the 4th Battalion DLI. 4/8902 Private Burns, however, did not serve overseas until 1917 and then briefly served with both the 11th and 14th Battalions DLI.

In early February 1918, when the 14th Battalion was disbanded, Private Burns, along with 150 other men from the battalion, was transferred to the 18th Battalion DLI.

On 18 July 1918, 18 DLI went into the line south east of Hazebrouck in northern France. Two days later, the battalion attacked towards Plate Beque. The attack failed and 18 DLI suffered one hundred casualties, including Private Burns from ‘A’ Company, who was shot in the chest.

Severely wounded, William was first treated in France, before he was transferred in late August to Queen Mary’s Military Hospital at Whalley in Lancashire. There he died on 8 November 1918. Four days later, he was given a military funeral in Seaham.

In July 1920, William’s personal belongings were sent to his widow, Sarah, including his cap badge and identity discs, his comb, shaving soup, brush and mirror, his cigarette case and wallet, and five religious books.

For further information:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:,-william/

North East War Memorials Project:

Civil Parish: Dawdon

Birth date: 1889

Death date: 8-Nov-1918

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 12 Melbury Street, Dawdon, County Durham.

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Labourer.

Family: Mother: Mrs Margaret Burns.
Widow: Mrs Sarah Burns, 12 Melbury Street, Dawdon.

Military service:

Enlisted 10 August 1914 in Newcastle upon Tyne as 4/8902 Private, 4th Battalion DLI.
Served in France with 11, 14 and 18 Battalions DLI.
Wounded 20 July 1918.

Medal(s): British War Medal, Victory Medal.

Memorial(s): Buried: Seaham Cemetery.
Memorial Screen, St Hild & St Helen, Dawdon.

Gender: Male

Contributed by Durham County Record Office