Lieutenant Colonel Frank Burton
216th (Toronto Bantams) Battalion
The Bantam Battalion is no mere novelty, but will prove to be a real fighting unit, and the bantam’s motto might well be, Multum in Parvo [Much in Little], for they are every inch soldiers in breadth as well as height, and Gulliver would find them very tough Lilliputians to handle.
(Toronto Globe, 25 Feb 1916, 6)
Frank Lindsay Burton was born on 12 February 1876 in in Barrie, Ontario. After graduating from Upper Canada College he joined the 35th Simcoe Foresters. When he moved to Toronto, he served as a militia officer with the 9th Mississauga Horse. In 1915, he enlisted as a senior major with Lieutenant Colonel Sam Beckett’s 75th Battalion.
In February 1916, Burton was selected to raise the 216th Battalion from Toronto and southern Ontario. Inspired by the 35th Bantam Division in the British Army, the 216th accepted volunteers below the minimum height requirement; between five-foot and five-foot-six. As the Globe noted, “The minimum age is 22 years– this latter regulation is to insure that he has stopped growing and will not overtop his Commander, Lieut.-Col. Frank Burton, who, like ‘Bobs,’ [General Frederick Roberts] is little, but wise, and a terror for his size.”
After disembarking in England in April 1917, the 216th was broken up and Burton returned to Toronto. In an interview with the Star, the former Bantam commander explained, “Of course colonels are not allowed to revert,” which led to large number of surplus senior officers in England looking for employment.
Burton died on 7 January 1953.
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