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Wednesday 24 October 2018

WW1 100 years on - Wilf Burden

To commemorate the signing of the armistice 100 years ago on 11 November 1918 we will be remembering the soldiers and sailors from Osmington Parish who did not return. 

Research has been undertaken by Osmington History 

Each day in the run up to 11 November we will remember an individual serviceman.

In St Osmund’s church in Osmington Dorset, there is a framed tapestry that commemorates the soldiers from the parish who fought in the Great war between 1914 and 1918.
It lists all those who took part in the conflict, including those who were killed and those who survived. It records young men from the village of Osmington and the surrounding hamlets that come under the parish boundary; Osmington village, Osmington Mills, Poxwell, Ringstead, Upton, Holsworthy.

Were it not for the careful production of this tapestry by a member of the local community, we may not have remembered all of these men and the sacrifices that they made during this war. It states,

“To the Glory of God and in memory of those men from the Parish of Osmington who served in the Great War 1914-1918”.

The village church has a brass wall plaque that lists those who paid the ultimate sacrifice stating,

“To the Glory of God in memory of the men from this parish who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord and let light perpetual shine upon them”.

The First World war ended officially on 28 June 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, although fighting ceased once the Germans surrendered on 11 November 1918. As the centenary of the signing of the armistice approaches, we look back at each of the stories of those from our local community who played a vital role in the war and paid the ultimate sacrifice.


World War 1 was a catastrophe.  It began with horses, infantry and rifles and ended with tanks, machine guns and fighter planes.  There were no winners.  Even those states who were nominally the victors were exhausted and their economies were in ruins.  The excuse for the war was self-defence but in reality, it was about empires and expansion, greed and the settling of old scores. 

It was the first ‘total’ war and it affected everyone in Great Britain.  For the first time, ariel bombardment from the skies took place on our homeland.  Millions of men were mobilised and millions of women were put to work on 12 hour shifts to work in the armaments factories and on the land.  No county and no class were spared.  Sadly, the war sowed the seed of an even more dreadful conflict which began only 20 years later.

We must learn the lessons of this tragedy and we must never forget those who were embroiled in its carnage.  Those who went off to war so proudly and in good faith, who suffered in the trenches and died in their thousands.  These were ordinary men who were living in ordinary towns and villages like Osmington, working hard to better their lives and those of their families.  A whole generation of young men lost.  This booklet is one of the ways that their sacrifice will be preserved forever in our memories and their histories will be retained forever in the conscience of our nation.  It is a record of men who bravely and willingly offered their safety and their lives to defend freedom and our way of life, to support our allies and to do what they felt was right for their beliefs.

As those immortal words written by Laurence Binyon said, ‘Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.’       

Brigadier Jeff Little OBE MBA CGIA FSyl FRSAPatron Osmington History

Wilfred George Burden
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Bradford War Hospital
Family Info
Son of John and Elizabeth Burden, of Osmington.
He had two sisters Eva and Annie, and an elder and two younger brothers Alfred and Maurice
Military Information: Died 14 April 1917
1st Wiltshire Regiment Service Number 29753
Wilf died of acute bronchitis in the Battle of Arras when troops were shelled by tanks. He was evacuated back to England where he died in Bradford war hospital.
Wilfred was the only soldier killed in World war One that is buried in the churchyard in Osmington and his grave is marked with a family headstone and a Commonwealth war graves headstone.
Further Information:
 Born in Osmington but he lived in Poxwell, he was the second eldest son and worked as a domestic servant. His father a farm labourer died in 1913 and his mother remarried into the Baggs family, living in Osmington until her death in 1955.
The family headstone dedication reads,
“ Wilfred George Burden son of above (John Burden) who died in Bradford War Hospital April 14 1917 aged 20 years.
Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends”.

Wilf was buried with full military honours and the village turned out in force at his funeral. The following news clipping from the Western Gazette on 27 April 1917 describes the event in detail.

His mother received a message of sympathy from the King and Queen.

Copyright Osmington History

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