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Suffolk tank driver killed during First World War to be honoured

PUBLISHED: 11:50 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:50 15 August 2018

Private Albert Bursford, who was killed during the First World War Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Private Albert Bursford, who was killed during the First World War Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Archant

A young Suffolk tank driver who was killed in battle during the First World War only for his grave to be destroyed later in the conflict is to be memorialised as part of a commemoration project.

The young tank driver was killed on the first day of the battle of Cambrai in France in 1917 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILThe young tank driver was killed on the first day of the battle of Cambrai in France in 1917 Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMIL

Private Albert Bursford, of Newmarket, died aged 21 on the very first day of the battle of Cambrai in France, 1917, after a bullet entered the tank he was driving.

He was laid to rest by nearby farmers on their land, only for his impromptu grave to be destroyed by shellfire sometime later during the war.

No physical memorial has since been established in the UK for Mr Bursford, however his name will now be placed on Royal British Legion Industries’ Wall of Honour in line with this year’s centenary recognition.

Mr Bursford’s great niece Wendy Brimicombe, who herself served in the Women’s Royal Army Corps, said: “I think it’s a brilliant way of memorialising him.

Private Albert Bursford, from Newmarket, will now be commemorated on a wall of honour Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYPrivate Albert Bursford, from Newmarket, will now be commemorated on a wall of honour Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

“Because he died so young, he didn’t have a family of his own – all the older members of my family have all past on. My dad was the last one who remembered him, so now there isn’t anyone who can talk about him anymore.

“It’s vital that we keep these sorts of stories alive – I think it’s important that it never gets forgotten, although it’s 100 years since the end of the First World War, there are still people alive who are deeply affected by it.”

The project offers members of the public the opportunity to have their name, or the name of a family member, friend or loved one, engraved onto a plaque in the charity’s historic memorial garden in Aylesford, Kent, for £100 – all of which will go directly to helping current veterans in need of support through RBLI’s services.

“This is what made me do it,” Mrs Brimicombe added. “I can get my uncle Albert remembered through the wall forever, but I also get that feeling where I have been able do something for people now.

“It’s crucial that we make sure that money is there for not only the families of those who didn’t come back but also those who came back not the same as they went.”

All donors to the project will be personally invited to attend the unveiling of the wall at a special event in RBLI’s memorial garden, Aylesford on Armistice Day this November.

Royal British Legion Industries’ chief executive and former Brigadier Steve Sherry said: “Although the Wall of Honour project is available for anyone to recognise members of the Armed Forces, past, present or of any conflict, there will always be a special significant when recognising those associated with the Great War considering the importance of this year.

“It is with great privilege that we are able to honour the tremendous sacrifice made by Private Bursford and provide Wendy, and the rest of the family, with a place at which they can pay their respects.”

To leave a lasting legacy, join the Wall of Honour and visit www.rbli.co.uk/wallofhonour, contact fundraising@rbli.co.uk or call 01622 795966.

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