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Discover the stories and remember the lives of UCC
Old Boys who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.

Major William James Gordon Burns ’09

Died: September 28, 1918

James Gordon Burns was the son of Mr. R. N. Burns, 486 Jarvis St., Toronto and was born in 1890. He matriculated from the Brampton High School, after which he spent 2 years at Upper Canada College from which he took the Honour Matric illation and entered the University, registering at Victoria College. He took an Honour Course in Chemistry and Mineralogy, receiving his degree in 1915. He was employed as a Demonstrator in Analytical Chemistry at the University. In April of 1915 he went to R.M.C. at Kingston for his officers’ course in Artillery training. Afterwards he was attached as Junior Subaltern to the 30th Battery and on the formation of the 41st Battery he was given the position of Senior Subaltern.

The Battery went to England early in February of 1916 and after a few months training and a special course at Shoeburyness, he was given his Captaincy, going to France in July. Later he was transferred to the 32nd Battery in the 8th Brigade Corps Artillery, receiving his well-earned Majority dating from December 1917, being left in command of the same Battery.

On September 28th last in the Cambrai battle, which was the stiffest and most important battle of the war, he was killed instantly by splinters from a shell when on a reconnaissance for a forward Battery position.

The following testimonies, among many others have been given as to his efficiency and worth.

Lieut.-Col. J. S. Stewart, O. C. of the 8th Brigade, C.F.A., wrote :

“All the officers and men of the Brigade mourn a gallant, fearless officer, and true and dear chum. I might state here that he was one of the best Battery Commanders I know, always out for the good of his Battery, his Men’s comfort and safety, regardless of his own.”

Capt. L. A. Reid of the 32nd Battery, wrote :

“He was the ideal Battery Commander, efficient, energetic and a real soldier and his influence was felt by us all. I know full well how much his helpful advice and sound training have meant to me during the eight months I have been with the Battery. All ranks in the Battery feel deeply their loss.”

College Times (Summer 1918) pg. 8-9


More information about Major William James Gordon Burns ’09 can be found at:

Upper Canada College Roll of Service 1914-1919

University of Toronto Roll of Service 1914-1918 (1921)

University of Toronto Monthly (December 1918)

Canadian Virtual War Memorial

The Canadian Great War Project

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Royal British Legion – Every Man Remembered

Supplement to the London Gazette 1 January 1919