The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names


This article was first published in an E-Journal of the BURGUM FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY in the Summer 2009.

It is very unlikely that Alfred Edgar Burgum, John Thomas Burgham and Alfred Edward Septimus Burgham ever knew each other. However, they all died at sea during the Second World War. All three were torpedoed at different times, and at different places, but the result was the same. Lives lost and hearts broken.

The first was Alfred Edgar Burgum, who was born at Great Lever, Bolton, England, in 1896. He was said to be the son of Samuel and Miriam Burgum, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, although my records show his mother's name was Susan Mary Anne Perrin and not Miriam. He later married Edith Louise Milton, of Littlemore, Oxfordshire, and had four children Michael Burgum, Graham Burgum, Peter Burgum and Elain Denty, all members of the Burgum Family History Society. Alfred was an Engineering Officer aboard a Merchant Navy vessel, the M.V. Chinese Prince, when it was sunk by a torpedo at 0414 hours on Thursday 12th June 1941. Alfred was 45.

The British steamer, under the command of Master Wilma Finch and with a tonnage of 8,593 tons, was routing from Port Said, Egypt, via Cape Town, to Liverpool, carrying 9167 tons of cargo, including potash, currants and magnesite. It was torpedoed by a U-Boat U-552, at Latitude 56.12 north, Longitude 14.18 west, south of Rockall and 280 miles north west of Malin Head. Sixty-four people were aboard the vessel; forty-five of the crew were slain. Nineteen survivors, including the master, 15 crew and 3 gunners were picked up by HMS Arbutus and HMS Pimpernel. They were landed at Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The U-Boat, under the command of Erich Topp, was based at the French port of Nazaire and sank thirty vessels over a period of three years. The submarine was eventually scuttled by its crew in the Baltic Sea, 2nd May 1945.

Alfred's name appears on a panel (panel 28) on the Tower Hill Memorial (Panel 28), in London, commemorating men of the Merchant navy who have no known grave.

Thomas John Burgham
was also lost at sea. He was the son of Alfred and Frances Anne Burgham and the husband of Esther Kate Burgham. Thomas was a Leading Stoker (P/KX 94117) on HMS Beverley, Royal Navy, which was sunk by torpedo at 0552 hours on Sunday 11th April 1943. He was age 30. HMS Beverley had a displacement: of 1,190 tons and a crew of about 150. It had six anti-aircraft guns, (4 inch, 3 inch and 4x20mm) and three 21 inch torpedo tubes. Two torpedos were fired from U-188 commanded by Kapitanleutnant Siegfried Ludden during a night attack and the Beverley sank very quickly. There were just four survivors. The position was 52.28N 40.32W.

Thomas is commemorated at the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, (Southsea Common), Hampshire, England.

Alfred Edward Septimus Burgham, died on Sunday 13th February 1944, when his vessel was sunk. The son of Alfred and Frances Burgham, of Abertillery, Monmouthshire, he was just 19. He was a Stoker (Lt/KX 532059), in the Royal Naval Patrol Service aboard the HM Trawler Cap D'Antifer. The RNPS was known as Harry Tate's Navy (also Churchill's Pirates). The men were a mixture of experienced seamen and fishermen, as well as recruits and volunteers with little, or no experience of the sea. Most vessels were acquisitioned by the Navy and so it was with the Cap D'Antifer. Built in 1920, this Belgian trawler (Compas) was commandeered by the Free French, then seized by the Royal Navy in July 1940. At 294 tons, the vessel serving with the 19th Minesweeping Group, based at Grimsby. On 13th February 1944, under the command of Lt. J. W. Neill, RNVR, she was torpedoed by a German Motor Torpedo Boat in the North Sea, off the Humber in February 1944. Her position was 53.17.34N 01.06.29E (WGS84) and the wreck lies at a depth of approximately 19 metres.

He is commemorated at the Lowestoft Naval Memorial (Panel 15, column 3), Suffolk, England.

Left to right, the Google map below shows the last location of HMS Beverley, south of Greenland, the Chinese Prince, south of Iceland, and the Cap D'Antifer, in the North Sea.