SECOND LIEUTENANT ARTHUR BURSTALL
EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
24TH SEPTEMBER 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: CHAPELLE BRITISH CEMETERY, HOLNON, FRANCE
It's all there - the sporting analogy, the exalted language, the noble death, all just as it should be for a heroic soldier. It was Sir Henry Newbolt in his poem Clifton Chapel who had a father tell his son that the son could wish for no finer 'fortune' than to have the words 'Qui procul hinc ... Qui ante diem periit: Sed miles, sed pro patria' (He died far away and before his time but as a soldier and for his country) written on his gravestone. I think that many a parent today could think of a better one; one that had their son living to a ripe old age.
I've written before about sporting analogies in inscriptions: 'He played the game' from the poem The Lost Master by Robert Service;'Well played lad' a tribute from a mother to her son, and 'Though a boy he played a man's game to the finish' from the soldier's Commanding Officer.
'Nearing the goal' carries the analogy a bit further. We know Second Lieutenant Burstall was leading his platoon in an attack on the German lines at Holnon on the 24 September 1918 so the 'goal' was presumably the German lines. Such an association is totally alien to us today but it was part of the culture of the era. Not that people thought war was no more than a game of football but that the qualities necessary to be a good member of a team were the qualities necessary for a good soldier. I can see their point.
Arthur Burstall was nineteen, the eldest son of a timber merchant in Kingston-upon-Hull. It looks as if he served originally as a private in the 16th London Regiment before being commissioned into the East Yorkshire Regiment. He was attached to the 1st Battalion the The Prince of Wales Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) at the time of his death.
Burstall is one of three young officers commemorated in a stained glass window in Holy Trinity Church, Kingston-upon-Hull, now Hull Minster. Two knights stand on either side of a robed figure above the words:
Comfort ye my people
Saith your God
Speak ye comfortably
And cry unto her
That her warfare is accomplished