Date of birth: 1888
Date of death: 4.10.1917
Area: Thornes, Wakefield
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of James and Sarah Ann Burton
Service number: 235121
Lewis joined the colours as Private 3560 in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry later transferring as Private 235121 in the KOYLI 9th Battalion. On the night of the 3rd/4th October 1917 they were in the assembly trenches ready for battle. Twice during the night they were barraged by enemy fire. Just before 6am they moved forward. In the words of the Captains of the 9th Battalion “It was the darkness that preceeds (sic) the dawn and one could recognise nobody”. They were “immediately subjected to a withering machine gun fire, men falling right and left but who cared? Our one idea was to get forward.” They managed to take JOIST Farm with some difficulty but then the swamp “proved a veritable death trap we were up to our knees in slush” while all the time they were being fired upon. They continued forward with some success, the garrison in JUNIPER farm “preferred to retire rather than fight”. They reached their first objective and continued on but were subjected to heavy bombardment throughout the day.
Lewis was one of the men killed on 4th October 1917. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He left his effects to his sister Gertrude. I believe he may be the L W Burton who is remembered on the Sandal War Memorial.
According to the UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 database, Lewis was born in Wrenthorpe in about 1888, but by the 1891 census, however, the family were living in Pilkington Street, Thornes. Lewis was baptised at St James with Christ Church, Thornes together with his younger brother Joseph on 2nd August 1891. Both boys were baptised with the middle name of Wilson which was their mother’s maiden name. His older sister Mary Alice had been baptised at St Anne’s Wrenthorpe on 16th October 1887 when the family were living in Calvert’s Buildings Wrenthorpe, with father James a ropemaker, so they obviously moved shortly after his birth.
In the 1891 census father James was now a 32-year-old general labourer born in Wakefield, while Lewis’ mother Sarah Ann had been born in Barnsley. They had 6 children living with them – Lilian aged 9, Gertrude aged 8, John Edward 6, Mary Alice 4, Lewis 2 and Joseph 4 months. They were living at 8 Pilkington Street.
By 1901 they were living at 14 Pilkington Street and James was working as a general labourer in the wire and rope works. Gertrude was now working as a bottle washer in the mineral water works and John was a bottler probably in the same works. Mary Alice was a doffer in the worsted mill.
Tragedy followed in 1899 when Lewis’ younger brother Joseph died aged just 8, then Lewis lost his mother in 1903, shortly followed by his father in 1905. By the 1911 census Lewis was boarding in Avondale Place Sandal and was working as a coal miner.