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Private Richard Henry Burton

Discussion in 'British WWII Medals and Awards' started by Jim, Feb 5, 2008.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Army: 1st Battalion, the Duke o/Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment DATE OF Bravery: 8 October 1944 Gazetted: 4 January 1945

    Richard Burton was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on 29 January 1923. At fifteen, he left school to pursue a career as a bricklayer, but he joined the Northamptonshire Regiment in early 1942. Soon afterwards, he transferred to the Duke of Wellington's, and sailed with them in early 1943 to French North Africa. After a succession of Allied victories, the Germans withdrew and in June 1944 the Duke's Regiment entered Rome. Four months later, as the Germans continued to retreat north, Burton won his VC, which was announced in the London Gazette early the next year:

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    In Italy on 8 October 1944, two Companies of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment moved forward to take a strongly held feature 760 metres high. The capture of the feature was vital at this stage of the operations as it dominated all the ground on the main axis of the advance. The assaulting troops made good progress to within 20 yards of the crest when they came under withering fire from Spandaus on the crest. The leading Platoon was held up and the Platoon Commander wounded. The Company Commander took another platoon, of which Private Burton was a runner, through to assault the crest from which four Spandaus at least were firing. Private Burton rushed forward and, engaging the first Spandau position with his Tommy Gun, killed the crew of three. When the assault was again held up by murderous fire from two more machine-guns Private Burton, again showing complete disregard for his own safety, dashed forward toward the first machine-gun using his Tommy Gun until his ammunition was exhausted. He then picked up a Bren Gun and firing from the hip succeeded in killing or wounding the crews of the two machine-guns. Thanks to his outstanding courage the Company was then able to consolidate on the forward slope of the feature. The enemy immediately counter-attacked fiercely but Private Burton in spite of most of his comrades either being dead or wounded once again dashed forward on his own initiative and directed such accurate fire with his Bren Gun on the enemy that they retired leaving the feature firmly in our hands. The enemy later counter-attacked again on the adjoining Platoon position and Private Burton, who had placed himself on the flank, brought such accurate fire to bear that the counter-attack also failed to dislodge the Company from its position. Private Burton's magnificent gallantry and total disregard of his own safety during many hours of fierce fighting in mud and continuous rain were an inspiration to all his comrades.

    Burton survived the war, moved to Scotland and returned to the building trade until retiring in 1986. He said he was 'slightly embarrassed by the adulation' that he received as a holder of the VC. He died at Kirriemuir, Angus, on 11th July 1993


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