Regiment: 5th Dragoon Guards
Parents: Mr & Mrs Burgess
Address: 10 Hurrell Road, Mount Pleasant, Hastings
Other Info: Wounded, now in Scotland.
An article published in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer on 10th August 1914 entitled ‘Wounded after firing the last shots in his locker!’ reads: “Priave A. J. Burgess, of the 5th Dragoon Guards, who has returned to Hastings after being wounded, told a representative of the Observer and interesting story of his experiences. Formerly employed at the Observer Office, he has been a soldier about two years. His experiences, from the time he left Aldershot, on 15th August, till he was safely back in a hospital at Plymouth, were full of incidents, but his whole story, interesting as it is to listen to, is too long for reproduction.
On his outward journey, after landing at Havre, his regiment had 22 hours in a train journey up country. At each stoppage the people showed their appreciation of the arrival of the English ‘Tommies’ by showering gifts of food, drink, tobacco and cigarettes. At the conclusion of the railway journey they pushed by road, and on arrival in the fighting zone, Burgess and others were detailed for outpost and reconnoitring duties.
They very soon got into touch with the enemy in woods and cornfields in the locality of Mons. A move forward of some 20 miles and they were on outpost duty all day on a Sunday. Nothing happened till late in the evening, when they were saluted by a shot, and found the enemy about 500 yards away.
At 10:30 an officer fetched them back to a town. They found their horses saddled in readiness, and they went off at a gallop till they reached a railway. Here they dug trenches and held on to cover the retirement of their infantry. Exiting incidents followed in quick succession. They charged the Germans, but at the sight of cold steel the latter turned and fled.
Burgess was constantly under fire but, fortunately, the Germans were not good marksmen, even at a distance of 120 yards. On the occasion when Burgess received his wound, he had had a lively time sniping the Germans. He had blazed away till his magazine was nearly exhausted, when the Sergeant came up with the order “Get back into the wood”. He said to the Sergeant, “I only have 5 rounds left, let me finish them”. The Sergeant assented, and stood by his side. The Germans were in a mass “like a brick wall” and he couldn’t miss them. He could see them struck and fall back.
Running back to the wood the Sergeant was struck by a shot, and exclaimed “I’ve got one”, and almost at the same instant Burgess received a shot in the thigh, and he replied “So have I”. They both fell together. They crawled about 100 yards and then rolled down a bank and waited events. Presently they had the good fortune to be picked up, and were put on horses and taken to an ambulance, where their wounds were roughly dressed. At a town they were put in a church with other wounded.
The German shells fell fast and presently the roof of the Church was blown off and there was an unceremonial exit. Burgess escaped with his shirt, boots and a pair of slit riding breeches. After other experiences he and other wounded were taken to a railway station in a waggon, and 19 of them were put in a cattle truck, and after a 22 hours journey, arrived safely in Rouen on a Friday, having received his wound on the previous Monday. Eventually he was put on a hospital ship and arrived at Southampton on 31st August.
Then he was taken to a hospital at Plymouth, where he remained for three weeks. His wound is progressing, but he will be out of harness for some time. At all events he will be remaining at his home, 10 Hurrell Road, Mount Pleasant Road for a month certain. Asked as to the conduct of the Germans in regard to their treatment of people he was unable to give any definite evidence, but he remarked that on one occasion he saw five villages on fire at the same time”.
Published: August 1914 & December 1914
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