Richard Henry Burton VC

Name: Richard Henry Burton

Conflict: Second World War

Gazetted: January 4, 1945

Service: Army

portrait_burton_richard henry
Richard Henry Burton VC
Richard Henry Burton Medals
Medal group

Place/date of birth: Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire/January 29, 1923

Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank):  Private (later Corporal)

Date of bravery: October 8, 1944

London Gazette citation:

No. 5891907 Private Richard Henry Burton, The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding) (Melton Mowbray).

In Italy on 8th 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 this feature was vital at this stage of the operation as it dominated all the ground on the main axis of advance.

The assaulting troops made good progress to within twenty 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 was wounded. The Company Commander took another platoon, of which Private Burton was 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 being either 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 this counterattack 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.

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Other decorations: N/A

Place/date of death: Kirriemuir, Angus/July 11, 1993

Grave/memorials: Kirriemuir Cemetery, Angus; St Mary’s Church, Kirriemuir, Angus

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Spink, London, 1998

Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum