Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
ff
6976036   Fusilier Joseph Burns
Save as PDF
Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 03/07/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 07/07/1910
Died: 19/05/1940 (Killed in Action)
Age: 29
Summary      
Fusilier Joseph Burns He was the son of John & Margaret Burns of Morgan's Hill Road, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. On Sunday19th May 1940 the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers were acting as part of the rear guard before the retreat to Dunkirk It is believed that Fusilier Burns was killed when the Luftwaffe carried out a bombing and strafing attack on the 1st Battalion’s positions.
Further Information
Joseph Burns was the son of John and Margaret Burns. John Burns and Margaret Harvey were married on 13th February 1897 in the district of Cookstown.
Joseph was born in Cookstown on 7th July 1910 (tbc). Joseph the sixth of at least six children.
Known family: John Burns, Margaret Burns, Thomas Burns (born 22nd December 1897), John Burns (born 4th April 1900), William Burns (born 1st July 1902), Emma Burns (born 11th April 1905), Margaret Burns (born 16th December 1907), Joseph Burns (born 7th July 1910).
All these birth dates are subject to correction. It’s speculated that the transcription was difficult, resulting in the mother’s maiden name differing from birth to birth. These are best guesses.
The 1911 census Joseph as a baby, living with the family at house 7 in Cookstown Rural, County Tyrone. John Burns was a labourer.
It seems the family lived in the Morgan’s Hill (Road) area of Cookstown.
World War One
The report below suggests that two brothers, Thomas and John, served in World War One.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 4th May 1918:
Mr John Burns, Morgan’s Hill, Cookstown, has received a post card from his son, Private Thomas Burns, of the Ulster Division, that he is a prisoner of war in Germany. His brother John is serving also.
World War Two
In May 1940, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers were acting as part of the rear-guard before the retreat to Dunkirk and were holding a 5,000 yard front, North East of Ninove near the River Dendre, in Belgium.
It is believed that Fusilier Joseph Burns was killed in action on Sunday 19th May 1940 when the Luftwaffe carried out a bombing and strafing attack on the 1st Battalion’s positions.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 22nd June 1940:
Mrs W Irvine, of ex-Soldier’s Cottages, Tullyhogue, has been notified by the Air Ministry that her eldest son, Aircraftman (1st Class) William C Irvine, was killed on 11th June when the aircraft, of which he was wireless operator, crashed at the aerodrome when taking off. He was 19 years of age.
Mrs Burns, of Morgan’s Hill Road, Cookstown, has been notified that her son, Private Joseph Burns, Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed in action on Flanders.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 29th June 1940: Roll of Honour
BURNS – 29th May 1940, killed in action with the British Expeditionary Force, Fusiliers Joseph Burns, Royal Irish Fusiliers, fourth son of Mrs Margaret Burns of Morgan’s Hill, Cookstown.
The Burns family wish to express their sincere thanks to all who sympathised with them in their bereavement, and to the many kind friends who made personal calls. This is an acknowledgment of their gratitude in a time of sorrow. Morgan’s Hill, Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 23rd May 1942:
BURNS – In loving memory of my dear son, Joseph Burns, Royal Irish Fusiliers, killed in action May 1940.
‘Good was his heart, his friendship true,
Respected and loved by all he knew;
To a beautiful life came a sudden end,
He died as he lived, everyone’s friend.’
Ever remembered by his mother, sisters and brothers. Morgan’s Hill, Cookstown.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 20th May 1944: In Memorial
BURNS – In sad and loving memory of my dear son, Joseph Burns, Irish Fusiliers, killed in action May 1940.
‘Someday we hope to meet again
Someday, we know not when,
To clasp his hand in that heavenly land,
Never to part again.’
Always remembered by his mother, sisters and brothers, Morgan’s Hill, Cookstown.
Fusiliers Joseph Burns is buried at Heverlee War Cemetery, Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. The inscription on his grave reads COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOUR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST
Fusiliers Joseph Burns is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph.
From an undated Mid-Ulster Mail
"We smile with the world, but never forget
In our garden of memories, you live with us yet."
Submitted by his family, Morgan’s Hill Road Cookstown
The CWGC record Fusiliers Joseph Burns as the son of John and Margaret Burns of Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.
Read more
Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Morgans Hill Road Cookstown North Parents lived Morgans Hill Road 54.651253 -6.754560
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists Burns family Shows the family at house 4 in Millburn St, Lane off, Cookstown, Tyrone
2 1911 Census lists Burns family Lists Joseph as a baby, living with the family at house 7 in Cookstown Rural, Tyrone
3 FindAGrave.com Photo of Fusilier Joseph Burns' grave
4 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Fusilier Joseph Burns' grave can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2020