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Remembered Today:

Fromelles16: July 19th events


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This very evening I'm trying to put together a schedule for a visit to the battlefields of the Lys 1918 fighting, and at the top of the agenda is a visit to the Portuguese cemetery at Neuve Chapelle. What were those poor fellows doing there? They were mostly illiterate, demoralised, bewildered as to their role in the war, led by officers who were remote and unsympathetic, and heartilly afflicted by the vile weather prevailing in NW Europe. They were the "weakest link" in that sector, and upon them fell an attack of terrific violence and intensity. They broke, they ran, and six thousand were captured - or surrendered - in the opening moments of the German offensive on April 9th, 1918. But in that cemetery are about two thousand Portuguese soldiers, most of them, surely, victims of that day. They deserve to be visited, acknowledged and remembered. Of all the poignant episodes of that war, this stands out as especially sad. Nearby is the Indian cemetery, another reminder of men from a different culture who suffered and died in an alien environment.



I agree with you.

I launch this thread some times ago on the forum.


very friendly


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quoteThe 182nd MGC Company has two listed casualtiesquote

Thanks Mel

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Hello all,

Tim Whitford here. Some of you know me but I apologise for my quietness on this forum as I must admit I'm not normally a "forum" type of guy. I find myself getting frustrated at times and limit my exposure to preserve my mental health. That being said I find this forum to be a generally very positive thing.

Myself and my family have just returned from France and were at the dig site basically daily. It was important for us to be there. The search for my Uncle Harry has been a big part of my life for about thirty years and we just HAD to be there. I've been a small cog in the Lambis machine for a while now (after Ward moved to England I guess I became Lambis's "technology" man as well as being his able assistant in the travelling roadshow of presentation nights etc. I have also filled the role of his sympathetic but sceptical assistant....trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to pull apart some of his "feeling" based theories....he has an uncanny knack for being correct despite all logic to the contrary... so all that just added to the yearning to be there. So anyway, 5 weeks and $20000 dollars later we're home.

It is me that is quoted in various media as to the state of the remains in the pits at Pheasant Wood and my very strong views as to what should happen seem to have also be oft reported.

It is with the greatest respect that I read the many views as to what should be done with the remains of the men in the pits and I will submit to the decisions arrived at by those ulimately responsible but I must say that I have been given the rare honour and privelege to have visited those lads in the pits on multiple occasions and I believe that I was probably one of the last non-team-members to have viewed the boys before backfilling. The final viewing had the greatest effect on me and it has definitely hardened my resolve to advocate for exhumation, attempted identification, and reburial at a newly consecrated Pheasant Wood Cemetery. I was in two minds as to which course we must take until the final viewing and even then not until I saw the horror of pits 4 and 5. But now I KNOW what should be done and am in earnest to acheive it. Of course I am only one person with one viewpoint and will accept the final solution (for want of a better term).

I remain of course realistic as to the chances of individual identification. I know that the vast majority, including Harry will never get their names back but the least we can do is try. Even if we fail, at least we've had a go. When advocating these things on my Uncle's behalf, I speak with the benefit of 92 years of family grief, oral history, and instruction from my elders who either knew Harry or have lived with his legacy and in his shadow. I also speak as a former combat-arms soldier of 14 years and I KNOW that I would want someone to try to give me back my identity if it was me...there but for the grace of God go I. There is also something niggling at me that is telling me that the last person to ever handle these lads shouldn't be a German when we now finally have the ability to make it an Australian or Briton.

As for the "Don't Disturb" option. I think it's far too late for all that. We've already disturbed them and I reckon they would have been grateful for it.

Cheerio for now and thanks forall the kind words and support. Tim L, I look forward to catching up with you and many others very soon as we have much to talk about.

In the words of Lambis "It's all good".

Tim Whitford

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Well, so much has happened since I started this thread back in Feb. As I mention originally, I will be visiting the battlefeild on the anniversary of the battle and attending the evening ceremony. Will anyone else be there?

My Grandfather, Gunner Fred Bemrose of the 61st Div RFA was killed on 20th July. He is buried at Merville and I will be visiting his grave earlier in the day.

I last visited 2 years ago for the 90th anniversary and I was the only Brit at the evening ceremony. Can we expect more Brits this year in the light of recent events?

A group of us are staying in Ypres and touring the battlefields there as well.

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Welcome Home Tim W!!!


My thoughts have been in Fromelles daily since you lot left and I need to say THANK YOU to you both. I am honoured to be associated (albeit in a small way) with the project.

I cannot speak for TimL and his research into the lives of the boys here at home but I can speak for myself. I have come to know many of these boys 'personally' from trawling through their service records, reading their families letters, compiling their family history and through looking at their beautiful young faces in their photographs. Then I hear what Lambis tells me and read what you write and I cannot help but cry. I have spoken to a few family members and heard them crying during our conversations and am told that the pain is as deeply felt today as it was 92 years ago.

Lest We Forget!


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Hi Tim,

My name is Len and I too have been very interested in the Fromelles events and have been quietly following them as an observer ever since Lambis first kicked the dust. I have been an avid student of WW1 since my first trip to Gallipoli in 1980 when I was 19. The Fromelles dig inspired me to join this forum and voice my opinion and quote you regarding Pheasant Wood. Well done.

What we must remember is that exhumation is a messy, sad and undignified business. BUT once it is done and the men are given the proper soldiers burial that they died for, once the individual headstones are surrounded by green grass and flowers, when several of the tombstones identify the soldier below, when the emotion of disinterring so many men has settled down, when governements forget about the cost, when Pheasant Wood becomes another of the many CWGC cemeteries and when people visit the cemetery in 100 years time and read the history of Pheasant Wood they will say "they did the right thing back in 2008".

How many men were exhumed after WW1 and re-buried in different cemeteries? I know at Gallipoli they rellocated the entire dead from Brown's Dip Cemetery to Lone Pine. They did it at Kokoda too.

Tim I am very much on your side. See my posts 273 & 286. It will be a long battle to make sure the right thing is done as even on this forum, in Australia, in England and probably in France there are widely differing points of view.

Karen & I are coming down to Melbourne for the 19th July ceremonies and hope to meet some of the like minded people then.

Regards, Len

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Tim W - Many thanks for your thought provoking and passionate posting. It has caused me to think again about what I think about the situation at Fromelles. I don't share all your views but they are certainly from the heart. I particularly don't view exhumation as necessary to expunge a perceived dishonour or stain that the fallen were laid to rest by the enemy - I think the Germans generally sought to do the right thing here.

I hope that as time goes by the best way forward makes itself clear.

Regards Ian

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The Powers that be will no doubt decide to do what is eminently practical and acceptable,,and will not allow their Hearts to rule their heads when the time comes to finally deciding on what is to be done with the remains.Do any of the Forum members on this Thread remember the discovery of the remains of 49 British Soldiers at Ovillers in 1982, and also the 20 british soldiers found at Arras ?...and how they were eventually comemorated ?.


I have the "Body Hunt" Programme on DVD,if anyone would like a copy,please PM me with your Details.

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I think the remains found at Ovillers in 1982 were buried at Terlincthun near Boulogne. I presume because this cemetery was "open" at the time.

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Tim W - Many thanks for your thought provoking and passionate posting. It has caused me to think again about what I think about the situation at Fromelles. I don't share all your views but they are certainly from the heart.

Many thanks Sandra, Len, Ian and all.

I suppose it might add some weight to my position if I detail just a little of my observations as to the way the boys are lying in some of the pits. General observations as follows:

1.I have seen a handless man in a slumped sitting positon with his arms still positioned above his head- he is frozen in the position he landed. One can almost imagine a German at each end of him doing the old "one, two, three" then tossing him in.

2. Another man is lying in a semi-feotal position with yet another man lying on top of him- this man is on his back, again with his arms extended above his head and is draped most unflatteringly across the chest of the man below him

3. One man still has telephone wire wrapped around his limbs which has been used to drag him into the pit

4.There is a man in there with a torniquet still attached to his severed limb where some friend has vainly tried to save him.

5. There is a man in there with certain very distinct characteristics that would render him very easily identifiable given even very a short investigation. In fact I have struggled with my concience very hard about this man but will trust in the process.

Please don't think I am blaming the Germans or accusing them of ill treatment or anything similar. Far from it. They had an absolutely horrid job to do and I would probably have done the same thing in the circumstances. They also had their own dead and wounded to tend to and a vulnerable and penetrated front which needed urgent defensive repair work. All I am saying is that now that we know where they are, these men should not be left like that when we have the power to lay them out, place them in a coffin with some kind words and a funeral service.

Cheerio and thanks again to all,

Tim Whitford

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I think the remains found at Ovillers in 1982 were buried at Terlincthun near Boulogne. I presume because this cemetery was "open" at the time.

This is the unique device used by CWGC to commemorate these men, who are indeed buried at Terlincthun.


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Tim (31st AIF) - have found your observations very interesting indeed. Your description of the state of the bodies seems to imply they may not have been as 'properly' buried as some thought. As you suggest this is nothing to detract from our opinion of the Germans, just the reality of burying large numbers of dead.

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Tim - thanks for the additional information. Again, this gives me a lot to ponder and I can better understand your thoughts on the matter. As you say, when "face to face" with these remains, a sense of duty to them must be very clear and immediate, especially when it is apparent that some remains may be very easy to positively identify.

Thanks to Paul for the picture of the Terlincthun special memorial - I suppose this might be taken as an indication of the current CWGC stance on what might be decided for Fromelles - but it is clear that Fromelles is a very special challenge to the CWGC and all of us. Or perhaps a unique opportunity for us to recommit to Remembrance.

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I decided I would share this piece of research I have been doing for Lambis along with a couple of stories.

One lads I have been working on had four brothers in the AIF all born in New South Wales. After the war the Army were trying to locate the oldest brother who was 'thought to be in Western Australia.' I poked around and found only one man that may have been him ... a fairly common name of Allan Spence and as it happened he was employed as a lumper in Fremantle. I contacted Andrew P to see if he was one of his Fremantle Boys he is researching for his book and he did have an ALAN Spence. Further research yesterday proved conclusively that this man was in fact the brother the Fromelles lad.

The interesting coincidence with the following research another Fromelles lad, Lt Burns ... is in the biography of his older brother. My very first job in 1962 was with Burns Philp & Co in Geraldton W. Australia.

NAME Burns, Robert David


RANK 2nd Lieutenant

UNIT 14th Machine Gun Company

HONOUR Entitlements

BORN 1888 Potts Point Sydney NSW Reg No 1585

OCCUPATION Station Owner

RELIGION Presbyterian

DOE 12.05.1915 Holdsworthy NSW

AGE 27

Residence on embarkation:


DATE 20.07.1916 (19.07.1916)

AGE 28

BURIED Unknown

MEMORIAL Villers Brettoneaux

AWM 177

DESCRIPTION 6 foot 1/2 with fair hair

NOTES Identity disk returned by German authorities

Granted commission 2nd Lt 4th Bn 20.01.1916 transferred to 14th MG Coy 30.05.1916

Court of inquiry found he was killed in action. He was last seen after the German

counter attack had succeeded on both flanks and it is supposed that he was killed

whilst visiting the left flank of the 14th Brigade.

Article in Sydney Morning Herald announcing death (prior to April 1917)

NOK Father: Colonel The Hon Sir James Burns KCMG. 'Gowan-Brae' Parramatta NSW

He was the Chairman of Directors Burns Philp & Co 7 Bridge Street Sydney NSW

Mother: Mary H Burns

Sister: Frances M Burns born 1883 Paddington NSW Reg No 7680

Sister: Caroline A Burns born 1884 Sydney NSW Reg No 2150. She married

1921 Parramatta John J R Pearson Reg No 4557

Brother: James Burns

Brother: John Burns born 1885 Sydney NSW Reg No 3302

Died as a result of active service 1921



MORE NOTES BURNS, Sir JAMES (1846-1923), businessman, shipowner and philanthropist, was born

on 10 February 1846 at Polmont, Stirlingshire, Scotland, son of David Burns,

merchant, and his wife Margaret, née Shiress. Educated at Newington Academy and

the Royal High School, Edinburgh, he migrated to Brisbane in 1862 with a brother,

worked as a jackeroo on stations, and in 1865 combined with his brother in

Burns & Scott, Brisbane storekeepers. He joined the Gympie gold rush in 1867, made

large profits from three stores of his own and, after the death of his father in

1868, returned in 1870 to Scotland through the United States of America.

From Scotland he briefly visited war-torn France as an observer.

Burns brought his mother, sister and two brothers to Queensland in 1872 and opened

a store at Townsville, supplying all the North Queensland goldfields. On 8 February

1875 in Brisbane he married Mary Susan Ledingham, who died in May next year, leaving

a daughter. The schooner Isabelle, which he had chartered in 1873 to ensure

supplies from Sydney, became the nucleus of an eventual fleet. Prominent in

promoting coastal shipping services and inland trade, he was a member of an 1876

expedition seeking a route from the Hodgkinson goldfield to Trinity Inlet (Cairns),

but at the end of the year he was induced by constant attacks of malaria to settle

in Sydney. He financed his Townsville manager (Sir) Robert Philp as a partner in a

new firm under Philp's name. On 1 April 1877 Burns opened as a merchant under his

own name in Sydney. At Elsternwick, Victoria, on 31 March 1880 he married with

Presbyterian forms Mary Heron Morris (d.1904).

Concentrating initially on a regular shipping service between Sydney and Townsville,

Burns moved rapidly from sail to steam, and in 1881 joined the British India Steam

Navigation Co. Ltd in promoting the Queensland Steam Shipping Co. Its aggressive

competition soon forced the Australasian Steam Navigation Co. to sell out.

He played an important part in the negotiations for sale and subsequent creation of

the Australasian United Steam Navigation Co. in 1887, and his company became their

agents at Sydney, Townsville and other North Queensland ports.

In 1879 Burns had expanded into a new trading firm in the Gulf of Carpentaria and by

1880 had compelled his main rivals, Clifton & Aplin, to accept his monopoly of the

trade of Normanton and thus later of the Croydon goldfield. He established a store

at Thursday Island at the same time, giving the firm entry to the pearl-shell

industry and enabling it to participate in the exploitation of New Guinea from the

beginning of government in 1884. Branches were established during the 1880s in most

of the major North Queensland ports. The firm also controlled the Townsville lighter

fleet and in 1883-85 flirted with the Pacific island labour trade. Always uneasy

about the trade, Burns withdrew when some members of the crew of his Hopeful were

prosecuted for malpractice.

The firms in Sydney, Townsville, Charters Towers, Cairns, Thursday Island and Normanton were amalgamated in April 1883 into Burns, Philp & Co. Ltd. Burns initially held 43 per cent of the shares and remained chairman and managing director until 1923. Although

senior staff became shareholders, he remained in strict and unsentimental control;

when Philp left the firm in 1893, it was the enterprise of Burns alone that guided its

expansion: during the 1890s branches were established at Geraldton and Fremantle in

Western Australia, and at Port Moresby and Samarai in Papua.

In 1889 Burns became a shareholder in the Australasian New Hebrides Co. Ltd; and the

A.U.S.N. Co. dominated New Hebrides shipping. Following mismanagement and failure of

its settlement scheme, the New Hebrides Co. was reconstructed in 1893 with Burns Philp

as managing agents, and was later taken over. With subsidies from the Victorian and New South Wales governments and the Presbyterian mission to the New Hebrides, the firm

became the principal instrument for Australian imperialism in the group; it also held

extensive mail contracts and received an extra subsidy to run its steamers under

Australian industrial conditions. When the French government began actively promoting

the settlement of its nationals in 1901, the new Commonwealth government accepted a

proposal by Burns to provide land and passages for British settlers in return for a

new extended mail-service contract. The venture seemed to be commercially sound since the proposed settlers would be practically tied to the company, but it was never very

profitable because of labour problems, Australian tariffs and the uncertainties of

international administration. Burns and his Pacific manager W. H. Lucas corresponded

regularly and maintained personal relations with Commonwealth leaders for over twenty

years, often through Atlee Hunt.

The firm's interests slowly extended throughout the Pacific islands as far east as Samoa. Its interests in the South Pacific were linked by its extensive line of steamships

by 1907 operating to the New Hebrides, Solomon, Gilbert and Ellice islands and Papuan

ports. In addition Burns took a particular interest in their service from Sydney through Java to Singapore. In 1905 a company ship trading at Jaluit in the Marshall Islands had been charged what seemed outrageous port-dues by the German authorities on the ground that the company was exempted from international charges born by resident Germans.

The case aroused Burns's Imperial fervour.

Asserting that the claim breached international law, he used his government friends to seek compensation of £17,500 through the British Foreign Office. When negotiations concluded

in 1910, the Germans paid £4100. Complaints from New Hebrides settlers of rapacity and inefficiency

brought an investigation of the firm's activities by a Commonwealth royal commission in 1915.

The complaints were rejected.

Diverse in his business interests, Burns was chairman of the (North) Queensland Insurance Co. Ltd in 1886-1923, the New South Wales Mortgage, Land, & Agency Co. and the Solomon Islands Development Co. Ltd; he was also a director of the Australian Mutual Provident

Society, the Sydney Exchange Co., the Bank of North Queensland, and various collieries.

He was a member of the Union Club, Sydney, from 1896. Much of his spare time was devoted to the volunteer defences: having joined the Parramatta troop of the 1st Light Horse

Regiment (NSW Lancers) as a trooper in June 1891, he was immediately promoted

captain, and major in January 1896. From September 1897 to June 1903 he commanded the regiment as its lieutenant-colonel and, promoted colonel, the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade from July 1903 to January 1907, when he retired because of age. Through his

efforts and financial aid, detachments of the Lancers attended Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and the Aldershot Tattoo in 1899; he also helped the same detachment join the first British armies in the South African War. His deep personal interest in his men

and 'quiet gentlemanly manner' made him 'more beloved than any other of the regiment's commanders'.

In 1906 Burns served on a royal commission of inquiry into railway administration and in 1908 was appointed to the Legislative Council; that year he was a commissioner for the

Franco-British Exhibition, London. Proud of his Scottish descent, he was president of the Highland Society of New South Wales in 1903-23 and probably helped finance its journal, the Scottish Australasian. From the late 1880s he lived at Gowan Brae, near Parramatta;

the Lancers had their rifle-range in a gully of its extensive grounds.

In 1910 he gave land at North Parramatta to endow the Burnside Presbyterian Homes

for Children and was chairman of its board for ten years. A trustee of the Australian Museum, Sydney, he collected Australian minerals, especially opals, Pacific island shells and

curios, and some artefacts for his own museum at Gowan Brae.

During WWI Burns helped establish a scheme for insuring enlisted men with dependants.

At the same time he was quick to establish a shipping service to Rabaul and to profit from the Australian military occupation of German New Guinea. He became a close friend of the governor-general Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, a fellow Scot, and sometimes lent him Gowan Brae. During World War I Burns supplied him with confidential information on Japanese

movements in the Pacific. Greatly concerned about the 'swarm of Japanese coming South', and their danger to Australian and British political and trading interests, he repeatedly

urged Munro Ferguson and the Commonwealth government to make it clear to the Japanese that they must hand over their recently acquired gains. He also devised a scheme for a Pacific island federation and a single administration for British possessions in the Pacific.

In 1915 he went to London and, with three sons on active service, he was able to visit

France he wrote an account of the trip on his return: his youngest son Robert was killed in France in 1916 and his second son died in 1921 as a result of active service. He was appointed K.C.M.G. in 1917.

Burns died of cancer at Gowan Brae on 22 August 1923 and was buried there in its private cemetery. He was survived by a daughter of his first marriage, and by his eldest son James, managing director of Burns Philp in 1923-67, and by two daughters by his second wife. His estate, valued for probate at £227,604 in NSW and £8853 in Queensland, included

bequests to the Burnside homes, the Presbyterian Church, various hospitals, Presbyterian colleges and the Salvation Army. Gowan Brae is now the site of The King's School.

A shrewd and tough businessman, Burns was willing to make his headquarters in Fiji,

if necessary, to compete with the Japanese; in 1915 he told Munro Ferguson that 'So far as my own company is concerned we can look after ourselves, though very loath to leave the Commonwealth or to have any truck with Asiatics'. Generous in private, he was a stern and somewhat unapproachable father, and would allow no Sunday amusements. Tolerant of other Protestant denominations he was suspicious of the political motivation of the Roman Catholic Church.

Select Bibliography

P. V. Vernon (ed), The Royal New South Wales Lancers, 1885-1860 (Syd, 1961); P. Yeend, Gowan Brae (Syd, 1965); N. L. McKellar, From Derby Round to Burketown (Brisb, 1977); G. C. Bolton, ‘The rise of Burns, Philp 1873-93’, A. Birch and D. S. Macmillan (eds).

Wealth and Progress (Syd, 1967); Parliamentary Papers (Commonwealth), 1914-17, 5, 665; Sydney Morning Herald, 9 July 1908, 4 June 1917, 23 Aug 1923; R. C. Thompson, Australian Imperialism and the New Hebrides, 1862-1922 (Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1970); Atlee Hunt papers and Novar papers (National Library of Australia); Philp papers (State Library of Queensland); Prime Minister's Dept, Pacific Branch, CRS A1108, vols 1, 2, 6, 58 (National Archives of Australia); private information. More on the resources

Author: G. J. Abbott, H. J. Gibbney

Print Publication Details: G. J. Abbott, H. J. Gibbney, 'Burns, Sir James (1846 - 1923)',

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, Melbourne University Press, 1979, pp 489-491.

BURNS, JAMES Jnr (1881-1969), businessman, was born on 30 Dec 1881 at Point Piper, Sydney, eldest of five surviving children of (Sir) James Burns, a Scottish-born

merchant, and his second wife Mary Heron, née Morris, from Victoria. Given an

austere Presbyterian upbringing, Jimmy attended The King's School, Parramatta,

and in 1898 entered his father's firm, Burns, Philp & Co. Ltd. He spent 1902 in

the London office, was assistant-manager (1904) of the Geraldton branch in Western

Australia, joined the company's fleet of small steamships based in the New

Hebrides, then returned to head office in Bridge Street, Sydney.

Six ft 1 in. (185 cm) tall, with brown eyes and dark hair, on 27 March 1913 Burns

married Vida Emily Mills at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point; they were to

have four children. He was commissioned in the Australian Imperial Force on 24

April1916. After training in England, he was promoted lieutenant in September 1917

and next month was attached to the 14th Light Trench Mortar Battery in France.

He was commended for 'coolness and skill under heavy fire' on 29 July 1918. Wounded

in action on 25 August, he recuperated in England and returned to the front in

November. He worked in Burns Philp's London office before coming home to Sydney

where his A.I.F. appointment terminated on 11 September 1919. His youngest brother

Robert had been killed in France in 1916 and his brother John was to die in 1921

as a result of war service in the Mesopotamian desert.

Appointed a director of Burns Philp in 1919, James took over as chairman and

managing director on his father's death in 1923. In addition, he became chairman

or a director of other companies with which his father had been associated, among

them Burns, Philp (South Sea) Co. Ltd, the Queensland Insurance Co. Ltd, Bankers

& Traders Insurance Co. Ltd, Bellambi Coal Co. Ltd, Choiseul Plantations Ltd and

the Solomon Islands Development Co. Ltd. Apart from the times he travelled abroad,

he was also a director of the Bank of New South Wales in 1923-32.

Although less forceful than his father, Burns was a hard negotiator and kept a sharp

eye on the operations of his companies which constituted an extensive Australian

mercantile, shipping, insurance and copra-producing network. Burns Philp was a

powerful force in the South Pacific. The status of Burns and several senior company

executives as ex-servicemen enabled the firm to purchase important plantations in

New Guinea that were previously German-owned. He opposed attempts by German

business interests to move back into New Guinea. In 1934, on being invited to become

associated with the London-based Anglo-German Trade Association, he flatly refused,

and added: 'I think it would be better for you to get representatives who did not

participate actively in the late War'.

Proud of his father's achievements, Burns believed that he should simply do the job,

honourably and intelligently, that fortune had provided for him. In the 1930s he

developed a chain of some forty retail stores known as 'Penneys', entered the trustee

business (Burns, Philp Trustee Co. Ltd was registered in 1938) and later acquired

holdings in 'old established country retail businesses', including Mates Ltd and

Charles Rogers & Sons Pty Ltd.

Although conservative-minded, modest and cheerful, Burns was regarded by the

administration in Papua-New Guinea as a commercial pirate who sought to use

political influence to gain monopolies. He preferred independent, Australian

insurance companies to their huge, English-based competitors; the QBE Insurance

Group Ltd is a monument to his endeavour. Less involved in business affairs after

World War II, he continued to attend the Sydney office several days a week,

travelling by train from his property at Bowral, until age and illness eventually

induced him to retire as chairman and managing director in 1967.

In Sydney, Burns stayed at the Australian Club; he belonged, as well, to Royal

Sydney Golf and the Union clubs, and enjoyed trout-fishing at Thredbo with his

friends Tom Rutledge and (Sir) Edward Knox. He served on the board of the Burnside

Presbyterian Orphan Homes for over forty years and made generous gifts to that

institution. Predeceased by his wife, Burns died on 5 August 1969 at Bowral and

was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at $1,045,194. He was survived by a

daughter and by his son David who succeeded him as chairman of Burns Philp.

Select Bibliography

K. Buckley and K. Klugman, The History of Burns Philp (Syd, 1981); K. Buckley and

K. Klugman, The Australian Presence in the Pacific (Syd, 1983); Sunday Mirror (Sydney), 11 Feb 1962; Sun-Herald (Sydney), 6 Jan 1963; Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Aug 1969; K. Buckley, QBE: A Century of Australian Insurance (manuscript, held by author); Burns

Philp papers (Australian National University Archives); private information. More on

the resources

Author: Ken Buckley

Print Publication Details: Ken Buckley, 'Burns, James (1881 - 1969)',

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, p. 313.

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Tim W,

Thank you for your very moving and thoughtful posts. Like IanW it has caused me to think again about the situation at Fromelles. I agree with Ian that "a sense of duty to them must be very clear and immediate, especially when it is apparent that some remains may be very easy to positively identify." I remain concerned, however, that any long term, drawn out effort to attempt to identify everyone may be more demeaning to the dead than respectful.

If we can separate the remains relatively intact, then we have a duty re-inter them properly with full military honours and lay them to rest in the manner they deserve. I feel sure that the best way forward will make itself clear; provided commonsense and sound reasoning prevails.

Again, thank you for giving us a face to face report on the findings so far.

best wishes


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Thank you for your posts Tim W. In fact thanks to all who have posted so thoughtfully and honestly. It just shows that even as a group who can sometimes differ in opinions, we are able to respect and understand the stance taken by another member. I think it's because we all recognise that each of us holds these fallen soldiers honour and final welfare paramount in our thoughts.

It is no secret that I am firmly in agreement with Tim W however there is merit in what Ian, Chris, Kim, PBI and everyone else has suggested. I only hope that those who make the final decision do so with as much dedication and respect as all those here have shown.


Tim L.

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Thanks again to all,

If I might just be permitted one more observation before I wander of to bed. My observations of the wonderful team that worked on this project.

The team led by Dr Pollard were absolutely and consumately professional throughout the entirety of the dig. They treated myself and my family with friendship and compassion at all times even though it must have been extremely disconcerting for them to have relatives of one of the men they were working on on site scrutinising their work.

General O'Brien and Mr Roger Lee representing the Australian Defence Force were also fantastic with our family throughout the process. They treated us with compassion and were kind enough to allow myself and my wife access to the work site on multiple occasions throughout the dig. It is my unwavering belief that these were the right people in the right place at the right time and that their focus was at all times on the maintenence of the dignity of the fallen.

All members of the team were at times caught up with the emotion and gravity of the work they were conducting which I found very touching. If it seemed on the various media reports that they were clinical and detached it was because they had to be to do their job. I can't praise them highly enough. From the digger operator, to the man taking the forensic video footage, they were absolutely amazing.

I have heard criticism in the lead up to the dig that GUARD was not the correct team to conduct the job and I'd prefer to avoid buying into that argument but what I will say is that as a person with a huge stake in this thing, is that I always felt that our boy was in gentle and very capable hands.

The whole thing is also inexorably linked to the fine people of Fromelles, Martial, Monsieur Hubert and Madame Therese' Huchett, the Lovely Carole L, Henri Dellapierre, Madame Rose-Marie and Monsieur Guy whose Cafe' was the official meeting place for les Australiens. The wonderful Madame Demassiet and her amazing Grandson Gillaume for their kindness and hospitality and for their gift of the land which was a Gift to the Soldiers as well as an honour to her father and brothers who were killed or scarred by the great war.

Obviously I couldn't also finish this post without acknowledging the man that got them there. Mon Ami Lambis without who's quiet and ongoing research and advocacy, none of this would have happened. He is a hero in the old fashioned Greek sense of the word.

Cheerio for now,

Tim Whitford

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Whatever the details of the decision, I sincerely hope that those with relatives likely to be at Fromelles end up content. I am quietly confident that they will be.

Fromelles itself is now very much on the Great War map. I plan to visit when I next go over later this year and no doubt many others will do similarly. I think I can assure our Australian friends that those of us closer in terms of physical distance will keep a close eye on this part of France on their behalf.

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Thank you Ian.

Bright Blessings


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When I think of Fromelles and all that has happened there, it reminds me of the last few lines of Edmund Spenser's poem The Faerie Queene....

For whatsoever from one place doth fall,

Is with the tide unto another brought:

For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.

Whatever the end result may be, our boys are lost no more.

The dedication and perseverance and unwavering belief that they were worth finding in the first place is a victory in itself.

I thank 'the tide' that bought Lambis to Australia so that he would find the boys at Fromelles all these years later.

And in the meantime I will keep looking for my own lost lad -_-

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This is the unique device used by CWGC to commemorate these men, who are indeed buried at Terlincthun.


Thanks for the Photo Paul,i reckon this type of Marker or something along similar Lines will eventually be placed at the Fromelles Site.I also recall Paul that there is also a Marker of a WW1 British Submarine Crews remains in Terlincthun.

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Or Maybe a Headstone like this ?

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