Early Residents of Cleveland – George and Robert Burns

William Edward Burns (Senior) was born in Stockport, England in 1858, and at the age of 16 he migrated to Australia. He later married Elizabeth Caroline Shire and they settled on a farm at Burns Flat, Mount Cotton. (This is just down the opposite side of the road from where the Sirromet winery is presently situated).

Much later, they moved to live at Cleveland (opposite the present Star of the Sea Church). They had nine children, two girls, Elizabeth and Florence, and seven sons, three of whom – Fred, Bob, and Sam – were described as having a ‘larrikin’ streak in them, while their other brothers were very ‘straight laced’. 2

The Burns Family Back row: on left Bob, on right Frederick Middle row: from left 1st Charles, 5th George (Identified only by age and appearance)
The Cleveland Farm of William Edward Burns (Junior)

Of the Burns brothers, George William, a carpenter then aged 29, and Robert Wallace, a farmer aged 21, enlisted for service in the AIF on 24 January 1916 and they were given the service numbers of 5303 and 5304 respectively. Their rate of pay was then 5/- (50 cents) per day. Both enrolled as Privates in the 25th Battalion and embarked for active service from Brisbane aboard HMAT ‘Itonus’ A50 on 8 August 1916.

The last time his father saw George was when he was driven on his brother’s bicycle down to the Cleveland Central train station to join the AIF, for George died on 11 March 1917 of wounds received in action while fighting on the Western Front in France and is buried in the Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Dernancourt, Picardie, France. He posthumously received the British War Medal, and Victory Medal.

Robert’s fate was more fortunate. After serving in France and Belgium, he returned to Australia 1 July 1919 and settled back to life as a farmer. Bob’s farm was situated in Cleveland between Queen, Middle, and Island Streets).

Sources of information:

(1) National Archives of Australia

(2) Keith Burns (son of Sam Burns)

(3) Betty Burns (wife of Doug Burns, one of William Burns Senior’s grandchildren)

One thought on “Early Residents of Cleveland – George and Robert Burns

  1. pretty cool, Mr Peter Ludlow, what you are digging out! Will further follow you and repost from time to time for my German Ex – students plus Followers on FB and LinkedIn …From Burleigh Yours Moreton Lover P H Bloecker


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