Sgt Willis Lewis Burnworth
Submitted by: Peter Stassen
Sgt Willis Lewis Burnworth served in World War 1 with the the United States Army. The dates of service are: Known May 30 1917 - November 1 1918.
Sgt Willis L. Burnworth entered service (ASN: 1518883) at Bremen on May 30th, 1917 with the Ohio National Guard. He got his basic training with Company D of the 7th Infantry Regiment at Pleasantville, Ohio. On July 15, 1917 this regiment was recalled to federal service. It was now redesignated the 145th Infantry Regiment, and assigned as one of the components of the 37th Division. Willis became a member of Company H.
From September 29th, 1917 till end of May 1918 he trained at Camp Sheridan, five miles outside Montgomery, Alabama. During that time he attained the rank of Corporal (October 10th, 1917). At Camp Lee, Virginia he stayed from May 24th till June 11th. Before embarking the USS Leviathan he received his final overseas physical examination. The ship left the harbor on Saturday June 15th and landed at Brest, France, June 22nd.
Sgt Willis L. Burnworth saw action in:
- Baccarat sector (Aug. 4 - Sept. 16, 1918)
- Avocourt sector (Sept. 21 - Sept. 25, 1918)
- Meuse-Argonne ofensive (Sept. 26 - Oct. 1, 1918)
- Pannes sector - St Mihiel (Oct. 7 - Oct. 16, 1918)
- Ypres-Lys offensive (Oct. 31 - Nov. 1, 1918)
On October 25th, 1918 he was promoted to Sergeant.
For one of his actions during the Ypres-Lys offensive he got a Citation for Gallantry:
By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, Sergeant Willis L. Burnworth (ASN: 1518883), United States Army, is cited for gallantry in action and a silver star may be placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded him. Sergeant Burnworth distinguished himself by gallantry in action while serving with Company H, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Division, A.E.F., in action near Olsene, Belgium, on 31 October 1918. Sergeant Burnworth displayed exceptional coolness and courage in charging and capturing a strong machine gun nest.
On November 1 1918 Sergeant Willis L. Burnworth was killed by the concussion of a large caliber shell that burst ten feet from him and there was not a mark on his body where anything had hit him.
Sergeant Willis L. Burnworth was buried on November 1st at Grave number 5 on the roadside. On June 7th, 1919 he was disinterred and reburied in Grave 79, Plot D at the American Military Cemetery, Waregem, Belgium.
His parents did not want his remains to be ship to the United States. They wrote on July 24th, 1920:
We were requested early last winter as to the disposition of the remains of our son killed in action somewhere in Belgium. We wrote at once expressing our wishes in the matter, telling you to let his remains be over there as we are informed that they will be taken care of and remembered by a grateful nation for what they done.
After the remains of the soldiers whose family wanted an interment in a Cemetery of their choice, were shipped to the U.S.A. when the Flanders Field American Cemetery had to be reorganized. Sergeant Willis Lewis Burnworth was disinterred on June 22nd, 1922 and reburied in Grave 8, Row 1, Plot C.
The grave of Sergeant Willis Lewis Burnworth was adopted on 16 August 2014 by SGM Peter Stassen (Belgian Army) and his wife MCPO Colette Vanhoorneweder (Belgian Navy), Zerkegem, Belgium.