Sir Henry Edward Burstall

Service file

Henry Edward Burstall (1870-1945) was born in the Domaine Cataraqui, or Cataraqui house, on a large property that is today within the bounds of Quebec City. His maternal grandfather, the merchant James Bell Forsyth, established the large estate in 1831. Burstall studied at the Royal Military College and joined the army in 1889. He was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1892 and served in the South African War, first with the Canadian Contingent and later with the South African Constabulary, achieving the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1908. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in January 1915 and was promoted to brigadier-general that same year. During the First World War, he served as brigadier-general in command of Artillery, 1st Canadian Division, from 1914 to 1915; G.O.C. (general officer commanding) Royal Canadian Artillery from 1915 to 1916; and G.O.C. 2nd Canadian Division from 1916 to 1918. He was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1918 and Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in 1919. After the war he remained active within the Department of National Defense. Sir Henry Burstall retired to England in 1925. The village of Burstall, Saskatchewan, is named in his honour.

Service Record Details


Date of Birth: August 25, 1870

Date of Attestation: January 25, 1915 (Valcartier)

Age at Enlistment: 45 years old

Prior Military Service: Yes (Officer with Royal Canadian Artillery)

Active Military: Yes (Permanent Force of Canada)

Height: 6 feet

Weight: 212 pounds

Description: Dark complexion, brown eyes, brown hair. Church of England.

Home Address: 164 Cromwell Road, London, United Kingdom

Trade: Officer, Royal Canadian Artillery

Married: Yes

Next of Kin: Wife, Mrs. H.E. Burstall, living at the Armoury, Winchelsea, Sussex.

Theatre of War: France

Casualties / Medical History

  • Burstall had measles as a child. He has a “tattoo mark L” from childhood on his left forearm. (Page 21)
  • He is examined by Major John McRae (author of the poem “In Flanders Fields”) at Devizes, England, on January 25, 1915. (Page 75)

Interesting Details from the Service Record

  • March 7, 1915 – Burstall is appointed temporary brigadier-general. (Page 11)
  • June 22, 1915 – He is recommended for gallant and distinguished service in the field. (Page 11)
  • June 23, 1915 –He is named a Companion of the Order of the Bath (LG 29202). (Page 11)
  • February 15, 1917 – He is awarded the Order of St. Stanislas, 2nd Class (With swords) by His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia (LG 29945). (Pages 12 and 17)
  • 1918 – An extract from a letter dated January 26, 1918, provides a change of address for his next of kin: “M.Z. Burstall” is now living at Oakwood Lodge, Epsom, Surrey. (Page 9)
  • May to June 1919 – He is struck off strength due to the demobilization of his unit, and sails for Canada on the HMTS Mauretania on May 31. (Pages 5 and 19)

The London Gazette

Burstall was mentioned frequently in London Gazette dispatches during the war.

Military Medals, Honours and Awards

Burstall received many distinctions throughout his military career.

Census Records

No records found.

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