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Burial At Sea

Heroes Remember

The Scandinavian was the one that I was on, was a ship built in 1873 I think it was, 1878 maybe for the immigrant parade from the Adriatic to the United States. Being on the signals, on the first day out after we left Halifax another chap and I landed up on the bridge to maintain contact with the cruiser from 6 in the morning until 10 and again from 6 to 10 at night, this other chap and I were on the bridge there. And then about the first morning, why, they got a message - about 150 words to the effect that somebody had died and they were, the whole thing was going to stop for 5 minutes before 12 o'clock noon while they buried him at sea. And I had to read that message, I had to sing out the letters as it came through and the other fellow would write it down and then that message would go to the skipper of the ship. So that was my first actual experience in doing something useful.

Mr. Burton discusses being asked to share the responsibility for communications with the convoy's lead cruiser. His first official wartime duty is to alert the convoy of a planned five minute stop to conduct a burial at sea.

Robert Burton

Robert Burton was born on February 21, 1896 in Dundas, Ontario. After public school, he was accepted into university which he attended from 1914 to 1916, in the Canadian Officer Training Corps. For a time, he worked at Massey, checking shrapnel shells. Despite being shortsighted, Mr. Burton was recruited into the 13th Brigade in Mar, 1916. In England, he joined the 5th Division, a reinforcement unit, and deployed to France with the 2nd Division as a sapper. Mr. Burton became a mounted courier at Courcelette, and had several interesting experiences in that capacity. He witnessed and was attacked by Gotha bombers at Arras, and was shelled at St.Pol. Mr. Burton also served in the trenches at Amiens. During the 2nd World War, he was a very successful engineering instructor at camp Petawawa, where he attained the rank of Major.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert Burton
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War

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