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Eric Mountjoy Burnard, 1893 - 1915

Eric Burnard was aged 22 when he died of wounds at Gallipoli in 1915. He is buried at Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Cape Helles, Turkey.

Born on 13 July 1893 in Dunedin, his parents were Sarah Louisa and Thomas James Burnard. His brother, LT Burnard, later practised as a lawyer in Gisborne (and was a founder of the firm now called Burnard Bull & Co).

Eric attended Otago Boys' High School from 1906 to 1908 after winning a free place in 1906. He moved on to Otago University in 1909 where he studied law. He worked as a law clerk with the Dunedin firm Fraser, Woodhouse and Macassey before moving to Hokitika sometime before 1914, where he worked for the solicitor ADD Crawford (who practised from 1910 to 1917) in Hall Street.

photo of Eric M Burnard 
Second Lieutenant Eric Burnard.

By mid-August 1914 Burnard had joined the Army, becoming part of the West Coast section of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion. His medical examination report shows he was 5 foot 9-3/4 (1.77 metres) tall, weighed 145 pounds (65.8 kg) and had grey eyes and fair hair. He trained at Addington Camp and was named as a Lance-Sergeant in D Company on 25 August. The battalion embarked from Lyttelton on 16 October 1914 for Suez in Egypt.

After several months of desert training, Burnard and his battalion embarked on 14 April 1915 and he was in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. He was promoted in the field to Second Lieutenant on 5 May 1915. 

On 14 May 1915 it was reported that Lieutenant Eric Burnard had died of wounds on 10 May. This followed the attack on Cape Helles in which the New Zealand Brigade embarked on destroyers from Anzac Cove on 5 May, landing in the dark on 6 May and attacking Krithia on 8 May. The Canterbury Battalion incurred heavy casualties, with 50 killed and 156 wounded or missing after its attack on Krithia Nullah met fierce resistance.

The website www.anzacs.org quotes from a letter from Lieutenant NF Shepherd to Mr Hugh Scott of Hokitika: "Poor Eric got his commission on Friday, much to the delight of himself, and myself, and on Saturday he was killed, or rather died from his wounds. He was carried down to the beach by some men, including Nyville Rutherford, who told me about him. He was wounded in the back and stomach and died from the latter. He was very brave about it and was conscious right up to when Nyville left. He died before going on to the ship. I went down this morning and saw where he is buried. His name is on the cross." (Canterbury Times, 21 July 1915, page 32).

Burnard's name is on the Hokitika War Memorial in Cass Square. 

Sources: Otago Witness, 14 February 1906, page 12; Otago Witness, 27 January 1909, page 17; Grey River Argus, 17 August 1914, page 7; Press, 17 August 1914, page 8; Star, 25 August 1914, page 6; Press, 28 August 1914, page 7; Sun, 14 May 1915, page 10; Otago Daily Times, 19 May 1915, page 8; New Zealand Gazette, 4 October 1917; David Ferguson, The History of the Canterbury Regiment NZEF 1914-1919 (Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, Auckland, 1921), pages 38-42.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph soldier profile.

This obituary has been prepared by the New Zealand Law Society to preserve the memory of members of the legal profession who died while serving in World War I.

Lawyers Roll of Honour. 

By Geoff Adlam, New Zealand Law Society. Further information is welcomed: geoff.adlam@lawsociety.org.nz.

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Last updated on the 27th November 2015