News

Immigrants enlist for war duty

BRAVE MEN: Hugh Kerr Burns (back row, fourth from left) enlisted in October 1916, the day after he turned 18.
BRAVE MEN: Hugh Kerr Burns (back row, fourth from left) enlisted in October 1916, the day after he turned 18.

MANY of the young men who volunteered for service in the First World War were newly arrived immigrants from Britain.

One of these was Hugh Kerr Burns, known to his friends as Scotty, who enlisted on October 18, 1916 while working as a farmer at Binna Burra.

He was 18 years of age and had followed his two older brothers, John and James, to Australia.

They were from Lanarkshire, Scotland and their parents were George Waddell and Janet Burns (nee Kerr).

At the time of his enlistment Hugh was working as a farmer at Binna Burra, near Bangalow.

With little or no training in Australia, the new recruits were sent to England 

 

It is possible that he worked for Robert Allison Phillips, whose son (Scotty's friend) Percy Wenham Phillips had enlisted in 1915.

At least one of Hugh's brothers is also thought to have enlisted.

Family legend states that Hugh enlisted with Percy Phillips and it seems likely he tried to enlist in 1915 but was rejected, as he would have only been 17.

He enlisted one day after his 18th birthday!

Hugh Burns initially joined the 4 Pioneer Battalion as part of the 8th Reinforcements, which sailed from Sydney on November 25, 1916.

This battalion was formed in Egypt in March 1916 and was under the direct command of divisional headquarters.

The 8th Reinforcements consisted mainly of Queenslanders, so it is probable that Hugh enlisted in Brisbane.

With little or no training in Australia, the new recruits were sent to England.

The accompanying photograph shows Hugh with some members of the 4 Pioneers. It was taken by Fred Wright, a photographer from the historic town of Andover, just north of Southampton.

Possibly it was here their training was completed, prior to being sent to France. At that time, the Ministry of Defence was the largest employer in Andover and a large R.A.F. Airfield and staff college were later built there.

Hugh became a gunner with the 2nd Divisional Trench Mortar (Artillery) Battery and partcipated in many major battles.

He returned to Australia on July 1, 1919. On his return, he went to Greta to work in a coal mine.

This may seem a little different to his previous occupation of farming but his father was a coal miner in Scotland and possibly other members of his family were coal miners, too.

When he returned to the Northern Rivers, Hugh worked as a winch-man at Broadwater Sugar Mill. He also worked at various sugar cane properties on the Richmond and Clarence Rivers. It was on one of these properties he met his wife, Elsie Jane Lattimer.

Hugh and Elsie were married in 1935 and soon afterwards he joined the tick staff.

This was a more secure job and by that time he was nearly 40 and no doubt wanted more security.

His daughter Heather Newby tells us over the years, Hugh and his growing family moved to various centres on the North Coast, including Coutts Crossing and Evans Head.

For some years, he manned the tick gate at Whiporie and then at Woodburn. This was a responsible job as the Northern Rivers was a quarantine area and the red-water tick menace was real.

An outbreak could decimate valuable dairy herds and ruin a major industry.

Hugh and his wife retired to Evans Head and it was there he died on October 26, 1970, aged 72. His wife Elsie died in 1987. Both are buried at Evans Head.

Topics:  anzac-centenary world war 1 ww1


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

The simple pleasures of a Bruns photo comp

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Finalist from the 2015 photo competition, Massey Magic by Michelle Begg.

The simple pleasure of winning a photo competition

Circus Arts 'Curryoke' night

ENTERTAINMENT: Friends of the Circus supporting the future stars.

Curryke fundraiser for Circus Arts

Building ongoing success locally

AWARDED: North Byron Beach Resort Construction Manager Darren Jarvis, owner Peggy Flannery, Development Director Jeremy Holmes and Project Manager Abel.

Elements of Byron awarded

Local Partners

Teen actor stars in The Dark Tower

ALSTONVILLE'S Nicholas Hamilton is part of the cast of the film that opens nationally today; 'It' is his other Hollywood film opening this year.

Warhol star brings satire show to Brunswick Heads

Penny Arcade is an American performance artist, actress, and playwright based in New York City.

Warhol muse Penny Arcade is coming to the area this weekend

Jungle Giants' new hits in Byron Bay

ON TOUR: The Jungle Giants are a four-piece band formed in 2011 in Brisbane, formed by of Sam Hales on vocals and guitar, Cesira Aitken on lead guitar, Andrew Dooris on bass and Keelan Bijker on drums and trombone.

Quiet ferocity is their new album.

Young people on stage at Brunswick Heads

ALMOST FAMOUS: Beth is one of the youngest members of the Brunswick Heads Youth Theatre.

They will be performing two original theatre pieces

OPINION: Bachelor really crossed the line

Leah’s abrupt Bachelor exit is slut-shaming at its worst.

Marvel stars tease superhero epic

The four year wait for Marvel's The Defenders is over.

The Defenders stars on their long-awaited superhero team-up.

The two stars who intimidated Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth was intimidated by two other Hollywood stars.

Thor star says he was ‘weirdly shaken’ when he met two other actors.

Sam Newman: How a Playboy magazine changed everything

The new crew of The Footy Show.Source:Supplied

How a Playboy magazine changed everything.

Leah slams Matty: ‘I was incredibly disappointed’

Leah says she was ‘incredible disappointed’ with Matty J.

BACHELOR evictee's controversial chat with Kyle and Jackie O.

John Eales finds peace with the haka

Inia Maxwell and John Eales in a scene from the documentary John Eales Reveals: The Haka.

Rugby legend is on a quest to learn about a sacred Maori tradition/

The Bachelor recap: Secret pasts publicly exposed

Matty J is left speechless on The Bachelor.

TWO Bachelor contestants’ secret adult pasts have been exposed.

Airbnb, Stayz and co tipped to squeeze Coast housing market

HOLIDAY BOOM: Airbnb letting is putting a further squeeze on long-term rentals.

Councils exploring options to manage the industry

Developer tears up couple's contract for new home

Jade and Edward Roberts were stung by the sunset clause on the first day of their honeymoon.

The developer has the right to do this under the sunset clause

Reports of Ibrahim family connections to farm and food hub

John Ibrahimat Bluesfest 2012.

REPORTS circulate colourful Sydney family have investments on the NR

Stunning, heritage-listed Coast home going under the hammer

STUNNING: Buderim House, a stunning heritage-listed Queenslander estate, is going to auction.

Coast home that played host to royalty is set for auction

Internet king Kim Dotcom house-hunting

Kim Dotcom and his partner Elizabeth Donnelly have apparently been in Queenstown scoping out houses. Photo / Kim Dotcom

Dotcom tweeted pictures and video of himself and partner Elizabeth Donnelly

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!