|Rushden Echo, 20th December 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins
Rushden Prisoner of War - PTE. F. J. BURGESS - Behind the German Lines
Another sad case of a prisoner of war killed behind the German lines, although supposed to have been safe in a camp comes to light in a letter received this week from a returned prisoner.
The unfortunate prisoner, Private F. J. Burgess, 48993, 2nd Northants Regt., husband of Mrs. Burgess, of Harborough-road Rushden, was captured in the early days of the German offensive. He sent a postcard on which he had to say he was at Stendall, but like many others, he never was at the place named. He did not receive any parcels nor letters, and no letters were received from him. All the time he was working behind the German lines, and from information given by returned prisoners it is proved that he was killed whilst there. Mrs. Burgess was advised to write to a Capt. Smith, Army Chaplain, and the reply she received was from one who signed himself Pte. Smith, and who apparently acted in the capacity of chaplain. Pte Smith writes:- Dear Mrs. Burgess,I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter and to express to you my heartfelt sympathy in the irreparable loss you have sustained in the awful death of your husband whilst a prisoner of war.
I’m afraid I cannot tell you more than you have already heard. I only wish I could. In regard to his death, it was no doubt absolutely instantaneous. It happened whilst he was out at work. He was using a pick axe at the time and struck a fuse of an unexploded bomb, killing him and wounding two or three others. This happened on May 30th in the morning at a small place named Damery. In the evening I buried him just outside the camp. In addition to myself and an English interpreter there were twelve of his comrades attended and a few Germans, including the sentries, stood looking on. I read the whole of the burial service, except the lesson, out of the book of Common Prayer. In fact we gave him as respectable a burial as circumstances and authorities would allow. In regard to any mark to recognise his grave, I cannot say. Up to the time I left that place there was none. What subsequently happened I cannot say. Please do not worry more than you can help for your own health's sake. He died doing his duty even though a prisoner. He made the "Great Sacrifice," and who can do more for their country?
Let us hope and pray that he is at rest, and may God grant him eternal peace. Let me assure you both you and him have been in my prayers. Should I be passing through your town, as I do come that way every summer for my holidays, I will make it my business to call on you.
Kindest regards and prayer for you yours.Believe me, yours truly,
PTE. J. SMITH
10 Ranelagh-terrace, Leamington Spa.
Dec. 17th, 1918.