John Burgess was born in Gillingham, Kent, but was living in Halesowen when he volunteered in 1914. He joined the Worcestershire Yeomanry who were sent to Gallipoli in 1915 as part of the 1st Mounted Division and took part in the August Suvla Bay landings. No progress was made in reaching the vital crest of the ridge and after the evacuation in December they were sent as part of the 5th Mounted Brigade to defend Egypt and the Suez Canal. With German military advisers the Turks decided to invade Egypt and won a considerable success on the 23rd April at Katia. Two Squadrons had been posted at Oghratina, a village some five miles in advance of Katia. The British force was light, but the Turks numbered 2,500. The Turks attacked at 7 a.m. and cut the wire in front of the British position. There was heavy firing until 7.15 and then quiet for some time. The Turks were helped by a fog which covered their advance and enabled them to surround the village. They then rushed the British forces. The Worcesters fought desperately, as was shown by the fact that eight of the thirteen officers were killed and three wounded. The problem was that shell fire had killed many horses and the Worcesters were unable to withdraw with the other cavalry units. Private John Burgess was among those taken prisoner. He was possibly wounded or later affected by disease. He died between 23rd April and 3rd September 1916 in captivity. He was 39 years of age and is commemorated on the Basra and Halesowen Memorials.
ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CHURCH,High St,Halesowen,Dudley,West Midlands,B63 3BB,England, B63 3BB
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