Burgess, Charles Henry

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Charles Henry Burgess
6 August 1911 – 17 June 1945
Place of birth Coniston, Ontario
Place of death Netherlands
Place of burial Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Years of service 1940-1945
Rank Signalman
Signalman Charles Henry Burgess (6 August 1911 – 17 June 1945) was a Canadian soldier who served with the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in the Second World War.[1]

Early Life

Charles Henry Burgess was born on August 6, 1911 in Coniston, Ontario. He lived the majority of his life in Sudbury, until a short time before his enlistment in 1941, when he moved to Toronto, Ontario. His father, Charles Richard Burgess (1886 - ) immigrated to Canada from England with his wife sometime between their marriage in England in 1910 and his enlistment with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in July 1915. He served as a driver with the 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column until 1919. After the war he was a baker who owned his owned Burgess Bakery in Sudbury. His mother, Emily Louise Burgess (neé Sudsbury, 1890 – 1939) was a housewife until her death. He had two brothers. His younger brother Richard Stanley Burgess (1913 – 1943) worked at his father’s bakery. His youngest brother, Ronald Torrington Burgess (1920 - ) was a salesman. The family were of English origin and attended the Church of England. Charles only spoke English. His official military documents have him listed as five feet nine inches tall and weighed 140 pounds, and in fair health.

After three years of high school he dropped out at the age of 16. He liked to swim, play hockey and softball. He followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a bread and pastry baker. He worked for Blues Bakery Company in Sudbury, and from May 1931 – June 1941 at his father’s store.

In June 1935 he married Leah Miriam Lagerbom (1919 - ), a spinster who had emigrated from Finland. Together they had a daughter, Marlene Mary Louise Burgess (1936). As a family they moved to Toronto, Ontario where he worked at A & P Tea Company for 1 month prior to his enlistment.


Charles first joined the Canadian Active Service Force in August 1940 and was assigned Service Number B17076. He served with the No. 14 Forest Company. However, he was discharged in September 1940 due to his numerous charges for being AWOL. On June 21 1941, Charles enlisted at the No. 2 District Depot in Toronto. At time of enlistment, he stated his desire to work in wireless. From November 1941 – May 1942 he attended the Operator Wireless and Line (W.&.L.) in Debert, Nova Scotia. After successfully completing this course, he attended his basic training and operator training with the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Divisional Signals until August 1942. During this time he became qualified as a Class III Operator W.&.L. On August 22, 1942 he arrived in England and was posted to Mons Barracks. There he performed Signal Office duties. After a series of charges for going AWOL, he was returned to the #1 Canadian Signals Reinforcement Unit to undergo refresher training. Despite his numerous charges, Charles stated that he was satisfied with his career and wanted to continue his service. He continued to have issues with absenteeism and in November 1944 was sentenced to one year of detention and transferred to 1 Canadian Detention and Field Punishment Barracks. His sentence was suspended on 20 May 1945 after the cessation of hostilities and he was released. In order to give him a fresh start, he was assigned to 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade Signals, RC Sigs.

In the early morning of June 18, 1945, at approximately 0500hrs, Charles was a passenger in a vehicle which was in an accident while being driven by Pte A.C.J. Van Wees of H.Q. Prince Bornhard, Royal Netherlands Army. According to the statement of Pte Van Wees, who survived the accident, his fatigued condition and poorly maintained vehicle caused him to crash into a tree. Charles was pronounced dead at the scene having suffered a compound fracture of the skull. His final resting place is in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands, in Grave I.A.7.

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References and Footnotes

  1. Research by Kathryn Doull.