Topic: Alfred Thomas Burnard

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Alfred Thomas Burnard (Service Number 27214) enlisted for the First World War with a Peterborough Street address.

Alfred Thomas Burnard served 31st of May 1916 to 2nd September 1918.

Born to Samuel and Emma, Alfred had three sisters Ethel Rose, Louie and Freda Doris. 

His father Samuel Evan Burnard (Sam) emigrated from Devon as a young man and owned a small farm in the district. Samuel served on the Hampstead Town Board and was well known through his butchery.

Sam died relatively young at the age of 48, he is buried in the Ashburton cemetery. Sam’s wife Emma Burnard nee Blackburn daughter of the station master at Rakaia lived to 78, is buried beside him the headstone is dedicated to all three Sam, Emma and Alfred.

Alfred was born in Ashburton on the 20th of November 1894 and was educated at the Ashburton Borough and High Schools. Alfred gained his Standard VI proficiency from the same Borough school in 1907. Alfred attended Canterbury College successfully completing his 1913 examinations with a first-class certificate in freehand mechanical drawing from the School of Engineering.

Alfred was an electrical engineer as a trade apprentice when he enlisted initially working for Messrs AR Craddock and Co. later with Messrs Turnbull and Jones.

The Nominal Roll lists his mother as next of kin and their address as 129 Peterborough Street.

Initially he is reported as recruited in the Ambulance corps but the 17th Reinforcement lists him in the infantry. An account of the city’s farewell to the 17th paint a patriotic picture - farewell speeches and touching farewells were made. The band played as the crowd of parents and sweethearts cheered the draft as they marched to the special train taking them from Christchurch.

Alfred presented himself for medical examination at King Edwards Barracks on the 24th of August with ninety-eight other men of whom fifty percent were passed fit to serve. On his medical examination he was noted as being five foot 6 inches tall weighing 140 pounds with blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion with a scar on the back of his 3rd finger of his left hand he was declared fit to serve once his teeth where attended to as he needed a lower plate. He was 20 years and seven months of age at the time but his form states 20 years nine months to be determined. Alfred is now listed in the artillery.

He embarked in J Company with the 17th Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force as a private. On gaining his commission he was transferred to the Canterbury Regiment 1st Battalion and served in the Artillery corps.

He travelled to England via the Cape of Good Hope South Africa where they had a port call on the 25th of September before his arrival in his father’s old home county of Devon.

He arrived on the 21st of November 1916 at Devonport from where they marched to Sling camp, the New Zealand camp on the Salisbury plains. Alfred left for France as a private on the 9th of December 1916 and was taken on strength at the Base Deport in Étaples a training camp on the Channel coast. 

He joined the 2nd Battalion Canterbury Regiment and was posted to the 1st Company in the field early January, this would have been the first action he would have seen since enlisting at Trentham six months previously.

No sooner had he joined his battalion he got a slight case of the mumps and was admitted on the 18th of January 1917 to No. 7 General Hospital St Omer. He re-joined his company three weeks later and was with his company for a couple of months before being nominated for training and sent to England on the 19th of April 1917. He satisfactorily completed his training and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on the 11th of June 1917.

A few days later just he was detached to the School of Instruction from where he was granted ten days leave to Paris just prior to Christmas after which he re-joined his Battalion. He was attached to strength of the Canterbury Regiment 12th Company at the New Zealand Division Wing 22 Corps Base Camp at Abeele, where reinforcement troops were stationed.

 In February 1918 he was granted two weeks leave to the United Kingdom prior to being attached to strength at Étaples on return he marched out to Division on the 7th of April and he was posted to the 1st Battalion in the Field.

On the 21st of July he was evacuated sick to hospital in France returning a week later to the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment from the General Field Ambulance. Five weeks later he was killed in action on the 2nd of September 1918 while on service with the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment near Havrincourt France.

His superior officers were impressed, a confidential report written by Lieutenant Colonel while Platoon Commander as 2nd Lieutenant recommended promotion. “This officer has ability rather above the average and has carried out his duties in a satisfactory manner”. If he had survived it seems likely he would have been promoted.

Alfred died in on the 2nd of September 1918 on the second to last day of the Second Battle of Bapaume, seventy days later an Armistice ended fighting on the Western front on the 11th of November 1918.

Alfred was reported killed in action in the Sun, the Ashburton Guardian, the Timaru Herald, the New Zealand Herald and the Evening Post on the 14th of September amongst others. The Ashburton Guardian has a brief obituary on the 17th of September 1918. 

The many memoriam notices in the Press on the anniversary of his death show Alfred was keenly missed by his mother and his younger sister Freda West who continued to place notices under her second married name Freda Franklin

Ashburton High School unveiled a Memorial Library on 10th of June 1924 a tribute to past and present teachers and pupils who served in World War One.

Alfred originally buried in a British plot in Frimicourt German Cemetery. He was later transferred to Baincourt cemetery, Pas de Calais France.


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Alfred Thomas Burnard

First Names:Alfred Thomas
Last Name:Burnard
Place of Birth:Ashburton, Canterbury