Lionel Sidney Burton was a serjeant in the Leicestershire Yeomanry. He was killed on 13 May 1915 and is commemorated among the names on the Menin Gate at the Ypres Memorial.
That day the Leicestershire Yeomanry had been holding the line at Frezenberg, east of Ypres and found itself under attack from German artillery for 16 consecutive hours. The bombardment began at 4am and was followed by an unsuccessful advance at 7am. A counter attack by the 10th Hussars later in the afternoon relieved the pressure, but not without cost. Serjeant Lionel Sidney Burton was one of 93 members of the Leicestershire Yeomanry recorded as losing their lives on that day alone.
A Sergeant Cookson, writing to the family, said: “I regret to inform you that your son was killed yesterday (13th insnt.) when doing his duty in the trenches. There is a long list of others, and as it may take some time to send information officially, I have thought it best , though it is a painful duty, to inform you privately. I cannot as yet give any details, except death was instantaneous. May I express the sympathy of the whole Squadron – I may, indeed, say the whole of the Regiment – with you and Mrs. Burton, and perhaps especially Leo’s young bride.“
He had married Sarah Lilian Burchnell in the Depwade district of Norfolk two days before he left for the front on November the 1st 1914.
Lionel was born in Leicester in the second quarter of 1889. In 1911 he was living with his parents and his stated occupation was a nursery traveler. He had an older brother (by four years), Herbert Stewart who was an assistant in business. His mother Sarah Elliott, had been born in Shearsby and was the daughter of John Elliott (born in 1816) who lived in High Street.
Many newspapers reported his death, with the Illustrated Police News reminding its readers of his developing reputation as a rugby player: “Sergeant Lionel Burton was one of the Leicester [Rugby] Football Club’s regular forwards. He had played for them for three seasons, and during that period had enjoyed the esteem alike of his colleagues and of opponents”. He was the first of the Leicester Rugby Club’s players to lose their lives in the Great War.
Leicester Chronicle, Saturday 22 May 1915, page 7
Illustrated Police News, 27 May 1915, page 10.
“England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2XYC-S1K : 1 October 2014), Lionel Sidney Burton, 1889; from “England & Wales Births, 1837-2006,” database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing Birth Registration, Leicester, Leicestershire, England, citing General Register Office, Southport, England.
SCHULTKA, H., & JENKINS, R. P. (2007). Lost lives: the war dead of Countesthorpe, Kilby, Peatling Magna, Peatling Parva and Shearsby, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. [Countesthorpe], Henritetta Schultka.
Leicestershire War Memorials Project: Serjeant Lionel Sydney Burton. http://www.leicestershirewarmemorials.co.uk/war/casualty/view/23356
Leicestershire (POA) Yeomanry 1914-1918 The Great War. http://www.paoyeomanry.co.uk/PM/LYWW1.htm