MAJOR WILLIAM JAMES GORDON BURNS DSO
CANADIAN FIELD ARTILLERY
28TH SEPTEMBER 1918 AGE 27
BURIED: ONTARIO CEMETERY, SAINS-LES-MARQUION, FRANCE
William James Gordon Burns was a Chemistry Fellow at Victoria College, University of Toronto, Canada. He joined the Canadian Field Artillery in August 1915, was promoted Captain in June 1916 and went to France the following month. In December 1917 he was promoted Major. His obituary in the University of Toronto Roll of Service relates how:
'During more than two years of continuous service he served through the battles of the Somme, Vimy (where he was wounded on April 17th), Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens and Arras. In the battle of Cambrai he was instantly killed by splinters from an shell when he was on a reconnaissance for a forward battery position at Bourlon Wood. Buried at Ontario Military Cemetery near Bourlon Village. In November 1918 his name was Mentioned in Despatches, and in January 1919 it was announced that the D.S.O. had been awarded to him for his service through the year, and particularly for his skill and courage in directing the work of his battery through the battles of Amiens and Arras."
8th Army Brigade
Canadian Field Artillery
Killed in Action
While on reconnaissance, East of Bourlon on the morning of September 28th, 1918, he was hit in the region of the heart and lungs by splinters from an enemy shell. He also received minor wounds in the left arm and leg. Death was instantaneous.'
The Canadian Circumstances of Death Register
There are two scholarships at the University of Toronto, both set up by Burns' parents: the Reverend Robert Newton and Mary Jane Burns. The first, the James Burns Scholarship, in memory of Major Burns, is awarded to a second-year student whose studies have included three science courses. The second, the Mary Gladys Burns Scholarship, established in memory of his sister who died in 1929, is awarded to a female student whose second year included two courses in English.