Charles Plantagenet Balfour Burdett was born on 16 January 1890, the son of Irish parents who had emigrated: John Head Burdett, who went to Canada in 1881 but returned to Belfast to marry Adelaide Victoria Stanley née Leatham in 1882, before emigrating again. Two elder siblings were born in Canada but Charles was born in the United States. The family returned to Liverpool from New York aboard R.M.S. “Etruria” to Liverpool in 1893 and settled in Ealing, Middlesex, where John Burdett established a Cycle and Motor engineering business, trading as Maxwell and Burdett.
Charles matriculated as an Unattached student at Durham University in Easter term 1911. This means he was a member of no college, and was not in resident in Durham. In fact at this time he attended St John’s Hall, a theological training college in Highbury associated with Durham University, and would have come to Durham only to take his exams. This he did most successfully, taking and passing his first year Theology exams for the Licence in Theology in that term, Easter 1911, and then passing his finals in the following term, Michaelmas 1911. A year later, he actually came into residence, as an Arts student at University College. He then took his LTh on 5 November which meant he only had to be in residence for a year before he could take his BA finals, which he duly did in the Easter term of 1913. He passed Part I of his litteris antiquis exams, but failed his Part II Division I exams. He returned the next term to resit them successfully, and took his BA degree on 16 December 1913. He stayed on for a term to be secretary to University College’s Senior Man. He was also an all-round sportsman, playing cricket for the Durham Colleges team, winning his colours in the Durham Colleges rugby team, being secretary to both University College’s football and hockey teams, stroking the University College winning Trial Fours crew in November 1913, and serving as president of the University College Chess Club in Epiphany 1914.
With the outbreak of war, he enlisted in September 1914 instead of taking the curacy of St Thomas, Stepney, and was gazetted as a temporary second lieutenant in the 15th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (the City of London Regiment) on 12 August 1915. This was a reserve battalion that never went overseas; he was later transferred to the regular forces and his rank confirmed effective from 22 June 1916. He arrived in France on 9 March 1916 attached to the 9th Battalion, presumably to replace officer casualties. He was killed on 7 July 1916 during an attack on the village of Ovillers, part of the Battle of the Somme. His company commander wrote to Burgett’s parents, “Your son … was killed as he was gallantly leading his platoon to the attack. I cannot say too much about his calmness under fire. The whole battalion honoured and respected him.” A brother officer also wrote at the time, providing a more detailed report of the circumstances of his death.
"Our company was in the front line. Just before going over your son was buried by a shell, but in spite of the severe shock he persisted in going over with his men. When half way over No Man’s Land the company came under heavy machine-gun fire and the line halted, lay down, and opened fire on the German trench. After a short time Burdett got up and rushed his men forward to the German lines."
Obituary, "Deaths." The Times [London, England] 21 July 1916
Charles Burdett was originally buried in Mash Valley Cemetery but his grave was lost in later fighting and he is therefore commemorated on a memorial in Ovillers Military Cemetery, on the Somme in France, and on the war memorial at Ealing in London. His last home address was 15 Waldemar Avenue, Ealing. Charles was one of four brothers to serve during the war, and the others all survived into the 1950s and 1960s.