WW1 Purewa – John Robert Burgin, Chaplain Major (Clerk in Holy Orders) 18/29

John Robert Burgin [1]

John Robert Burgin was born on 10th October 1869 at Long Bennington, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England.

He was the son of William Burgin and Elizabeth Elkington and arrived in New Zealand 1909 or 1910 at Havelock, Marlborough. He and his wife Henrietta Jane Burgin (nee Woollcombe) were married on the 10th Dec 1896 and had three children all born in England: Eric born July 1898 at Torquay; Irene Henrietta Born 5th August (no year given 1900 or 1901?) at Ramsgate; and Annie Mona born 11 March 1903 at Kirk Michael, Isle of Man. When he died his wife lived at 17 Arcadia Rd, Epsom, Auckland. [1]

The Rev. John Burgin was vicar at St Stephen’s in Ashburton when he was appointed Anglican Chaplain-Captain to the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the New, Zealand Rifle Brigade, and received instructions from Military Headquarters to report for duty as early as possible with the battalions when they were called up. He left Ashburton on December 16 1915. [2] He was posted to A Company, 3rd Battalion. NZ Rifle Brigade and sailed on 5 February 1916 on the Ulimaroa or Mokoia or Navua as Chaplain Class III (Major) in the New Zealand Chaplains Department, being then moved to the 2nd Battalion 3rd NZRB in England. He was admitted to the 1st N Z Hospital Brockenhurst on 16 January with gastritis and on the 8th March 1917 was placed on the New Zealand Roll because of ill health contracted on active service. He returned to New Zealand on the Hospital Ship Maheno on 6 May 1917 and was discharged into the N Z Chaplain’s Dept. on 21 July 1917.

John Robert Burgin grave [2]

John Robert Burgin grave [2]

Back in New Zealand, John Burgin was appointed chaplain to returned soldiers, and organiser for the Anglican diocese of Auckland for a period of 12 months. [3] He acted as honorary chaplain to the Auckland Military Hospital and was a member of the executive of the Auckland Returned Soldiers’ Association. It was not until 1919 that he resigned to take up the position of Vicar of St Peter’s Church, Onehunga. A presentation of a dressing case and walking stick, was made by Sergeant T. A. Bishop, chairman of the soldiers’ committee, who spoke of the “good work done by Mr. Burgin among the soldiers and the cordial relations that had always existed between him and the “diggers.”

His military file records him that he “Died of wounds/sickness.” The Reverend John Burgin’s grave at Purewa Cemetery says he died on the 2nd December 1920 from the effects of being gassed at the Somme, aged 51 years. He is buried in Block A Row 28 Plot 6.