Descendants of John Burgar (1742-1797)

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Fifth Generation

 William George Francis Burgar (1911-1988) - son of William Edwin Burgar(1880-1923) - son of Alfred Burgar (1839-1917) - son of Joseph Burgar (1794-1854) - son of John Burgar (1742-1797)

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William George Francis Burgar
was my father.  

William George Francis Burgar was born on 18 Oct 1911 in 8 Kambala Road Battersea.16,40 Civil Registration of Births reference is Dec 1911 V 1D p 997 - Wandsworth London16 

He was christened 26 Nov 1911 in Christ Church Battersea.40

He died in 1988 at Watford, Hertfordshire.16 Civil Registration of Death reference is Dec 1988 V 10 p 653. Aged 77. - Watford, Hertfordshire.16 He died aged 77.

After his father died in 1923,  William G.F. had to help his mother keep the family going. Consequently, he had from the age of 12 years as many as 3 jobs a day, starting with a paper round and a baker's round in the morning, and finishing with a paper round in the afternoon. His mother worked in a laundry and although they had very little the family managed to stay together.

At sixteen he was apprenticed as a french-polisher at J. Lyons and Co. His mother and he had to sign an Indenture saying that they agreed to the conditions. This involved going to night school 3 evenings a week. His rate of pay was 4d an hour for the first year, rising by 2d each year until it reached one shilling per hour in his fifth year, meaning about £2.0.0 a week, which would not have been a bad wage then.

See details of Apprenticeship Document Page 1    - The contract

See details of Apprenticeship Document Page 2    - Wages

See details of Apprenticeship Document Page 3    - Mother's conditions

See details of Apprenticeship Document Page 4    - Signatures

See details of Apprenticeship Document Page 5    - Final completion

The result of this tough upbringing was that he was fiercely independent in mind and spirit. He had the confidence that he could do everything and anything.   He was of the opinion that there was not such a word as can’t.  I think that this is the biggest lesson that I learned from my father and the one that I would like to pass on to my grandchildren.

See Photos of Bill as young man

See Photos of Lil as a young girl

See photos of courting days and honeymoon

In 1935 he married Lily Bond ( 1911-2001) at Christ Church Battersea. Civil Registration of marriage reference is Jun 1935 V 1D p 823 - Battersea London.16

Soon after, they moved to Harrow where he purchased a house. This was rather revolutionary, since he had moved away from the family and in the eyes of many “put a noose round his neck” in the form of a mortgage.

See Photos of early years of marriage

In 1941 William G.F. ( Dad from now on ) was called up and served in the Royal Navy for the duration of the war.

See Photos of Bill in Navy

See details of service record

See details of Gunnery Training

See details of Ships served on

He had the misfortune to be torpedoed in 1942

See details of being torpedoed and being in a lifeboat for 11 days in the North Atlantic.

For his exploits he was awarded the BEM ( British Empire Medal ) with the following citation in the Times of the 9th November 1943.

AB W.G.F. Burgar for outstanding leadership and endurance for over 10 days in a boat when his ship was torpedoed.

I clearly remember going to Buckingham Palace when I was about 6 years old to see him receive the medal from the King, George V1. All the medal recipients were allowed to bring two guests, so Mum and myself went along. As far as I remember there were less than 100 in the audience, sitting in very plush red and gold chairs. The King was at the front handing out the medals as the recipients filed by.

See details of British Empire Medal.

See details of Conduct Record

See Details of discharge papers

As a result of his feet being immersed in freezing water during his time in the lifeboat, he suffered badly with his feet in the years after the war.  He was eligible to have compensation for this injury, but had to prove that he really was in the Royal Navy and not the Merchant Navy.

See details of confirmation that he was in the Royal Navy.

Although he never talked much about the serious side of his war time exploits, he did occasionally mention a few of the more amusing aspects.

After his return to England, he was returned to shore leave. For a long period of time he was stationed on the HMS Chrysanthemum which was on the north bank of the River Thames, between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge. On one occasion the men were asked if they could use a typewriter. “Yes, I can” says Dad, thinking that a position in the warm office would be good for his feet.  He was of the opinion that typing was just a matter of hitting the right keys, and he would easily be able to type within an hour or two. I don’t think that he lasted long in the job. 

There was a scam with bags of sugar, which was as valuable as gold during the war. The crew managed to acquire some sacks of sugar and were secreting them into the hold for future use when one burst open. There was a long trail of sugar along the deck, down the stairs, along passageways.  While it was being cleared up Dad explained to the officer that it was something used in the paint supplies.  On his 70th birthday we took him to revisit the Chrysanthemum. The officer in charge gave him a guided tour but Dad knew more about the ship than he did. He was ecstatic about the colour of the paintwork. He had at one time been in charge of the painting gang.  The colour of all the pipes, doorframes etc. was exactly the same as when he had first painted it. Since paint was limited at the time, they had blended together the remnants of many tins to produce a vibrant purple colour.  Presumably the Navy had continued with the same colour scheme thereafter.

After the war he met a friend who was a silk-screener.  “I can do that” he thought so started up a silk-screening business, mainly making pennants for bicycles.  Originally he had to cut out all the designs by hand using a scalpel. He was very artistic in this way. Later he bought a hardware shop in Hayes, Middlesex, where he combined both jobs. At the age of 63 he had a heart attack and had to sell the shop. He and Lil retired to the bungalow at Carpenders Park Watford..

Recently, we have found out that the BEM was a very rare medal, only 1000 or so issued during the whole war. It is a form of OBE but we would never have known this from Dad. 

Dad (or Pop to the grandchildren) was very competitive and always played to win. I never once beat him at draughts, although from the age of 10, I always beat him at chess.

For more about him you should read Lil's memoirs -  “A Life of Lily”.

See more comprehensive details of the the Battle of the Atlantic

See Photos of Bill and Lil as they pass to old age

See Tree of Descendants

Lily Bond was the wife of William G.F. Burgar and my mother

See details of Lily Bond, her siblings and ancestors.

William George Francis Burgar and Lily Bond had the following children:



William Francis Horace Burgar.



Reginald Joseph Burgar.

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