Remembering Robert Cecil Burlingham


Robert Cecil Burlingham was born on the 3rd April 1896, the middle of three children of Charles and Elizabeth Burlingham.  He was baptised on the 14th June 1896, in Neatishead parish church (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: From the Baptisms Register, Neatishead, 1896

The British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 survive for Robert.  His service papers record that he was living in Wood Norton when he enlisted at East Dereham on the 24th September 1914.  He gave his age as 18 years 5 months, height as 5’ 5¼”, and chest 35½”.

He was ‘at home’ from the date of his enlistment to the 2nd June 1916, and for the period 29th January 1916 to the 1st June 1916 he was with the 3/5th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment (service number 3085).  On the 3rd June 1916 Robert was posted overseas with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF), embarking from Davenport on the Royal George and arriving in Alexandria on the 13th June 1916 (see Figure 2), joining his unit at Serapeum on the 21st June 1916.  He was wounded in action in April 1917 (a gunshot wound to the right arm and thigh), rejoining his unit on the 29th July 1917.  The Casualty Form – Active Service shows that on the 5th November 1917 he was reported as missing, and on the 7th November 1917 that he had been killed.

Figure 2: Extract from British Army WW1 Service Records for Robert Cecil Burlingham

Robert was killed in action on the 2nd November 1917; he was 21 years old.  His service record notes that his father was notified of his death on the 17th November 1917 (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Extract from British Army WW1 Service Records for Robert Cecil Burlingham, recording his death

At the end of March 1917, Gaza was attacked and surrounded by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in the First Battle of Gaza, but the attack was broken off when Turkish reinforcements appeared.  The Second Battle of Gaza, 17th-19th April 1917, left the Turks in possession.  The Third Battle of Gaza, begun on 27th October 1917, and a series of determined night-time assaults mounted against the Gaza defences on the night of the 1st/2nd November 1917, culminated with the capture of the ruined and deserted city on the 7th November 1917.


Robert is buried in the Gaza War Cemetery, which contains 3,217 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 781 of them unidentified.[1]  He is one of 41 men from the Norfolk Regiment (25 from the 1/5th Battalion, and 16 from the 1/4th Battalion) who were killed on the 2nd November 1917, and are buried in the cemetery.[2]  Robert’s family selected the wording for this headstone, which bears a cross and the inscription Rest in Peace.[3]  Robert’s Record of Soldiers’ Effects[4] show that and amount of £12 1s was paid to Robert’s mother, Elizabeth Burlingham, as sole legatee, on the 14th March 1918, together with a War Gratuity of £14 on the 27th November 1919.

Further research into Robert’s family reveals that his father, Charles Burlingham, was born on the 31st October 1864 and baptised on the 30th July 1865 in Snetterton parish church, the son of George and Eliza Burlingham.[5]  Charles married Elizabeth Doughty on the 6th November 1890 in Hoe, Norfolk.[6]  The 1911 Census for Hoveton St Peter, Wroxham, gives Charles as aged 46 and a ‘groom gardener’ on a farm.  He died in 1931, aged 66, and is buried in Wood Norton.  Elizabeth was born in 1868 in Hoe, Norfolk,[7] she died in 1950, aged 82, and is buried in Wood Norton.  Charles and Elizabeth had three children, all sons:

Name Born  Died
Charles William 1892, in Marlingford.[8]

In the 1911 census, Charles is aged 18, and a farm labourer.

1965, aged 72[9]
Robert Cecil 1896, Neatishead.

In the 1911 census, Robert is aged 15, and an underkeeper.

1917, Gaza
Frederic George 1901, in Flemingham.[10]

In the 1911 census, Frederick is aged 9, and at school.

1971, aged 70.[11]


Charles William Burlingham is also recorded on the Wood Norton war memorial, as he served in WW1 (in the 1/5th Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment) – he survived the conflict

[1] CWGC information for the Gaza War Cemetery (

[2] From the CWGC database (

[3] CWGC headstone schedule and inscription records (

[4] UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 (

[5] Baptism Register 1865, Snetterton (

[6] Marriage Register 1890, Hoe (

[7] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1868, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.90 (

[8] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1892, Forehoe Vol.4b, p.193 (

[9] FreeBMD, Quarter to June 1965, Depwade Vol.4b, p.177 (

[10] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1901, Smallburgh Vol.4b, p.70 (

[11] FreeBMD, Quarter to June 1971, Depwade Vol.4b, p.1214 (


With many thanks to The Wood Norton Remembers Project for this post – the team do ask if anyone has any further information on Robert’s older brother, Charles William , that they can share that would be wonderful.


One thought on “Remembering Robert Cecil Burlingham

  1. Pingback: Remembering Robert Cecil Burlingham – Your Ancestor Search

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