SSAFA commemorates the First World War

Joe Burn

Stories from the First World War

Joe Burn

John Burn, volunteer for Suffolk branch, shared his family's First World War story with us:

Joseph Burn"On 24th January 1914 cousins Joseph Kitching and Joseph Burn went to the Territorial Army Centre in Northallerton and enlisted into the local Territorial Battalion, The 1/ 4 Yorkshire's. When the First World War broke on the 4th August they were called into service and spent the next months training.

Joe left for France 17th April 1915. Almost as soon as they disembarked in France, the 4th Yorkshire's were rushed into the line to stem the German advance around Ypres where their use of poison gas had allowed them to break through the Allied lines. on 24th April 1915 the 4th Yorkshire's mounted a counter attack near the village of St. Julien which earned them the nickname of the "Yorkshire Gurkha's".

Joe can have had little time for writing home, but he did write at least one letter which his family have preserved. It read:

'Dear Mother,
Just a line hoping you are all well as it leaves me at present. By the time you receive this you will have seen we have been in action & that we lost Joe Taylor of N.A. All Brompton lads are alright. We are having a rest now. If you get Wilf Parker's address off Lucy mine is name same except name and number (1155) . When you write will you please send me a small bit of brown twist, not too much as we get shag dished out. Well I think this is all just now so look after Jess.

From your loving son
Joe'

Joe was killed in action, aged 22, when the Germans attacked the 4th Yorkshire Regiment, using poison gas, during the Second Battle of Ypres on 2nd May 1915. Joe Burn, is commemorated on the Menin Gate, the Memorial to The Missing at Ypres.