FIRST CHILD OF GEORGE and AGNES.
On January 16th, 1914 James and brother Ted decided to join the A.I.F. and passing their medicals, went off to World War 1. Ted left Australia 6 months ahead of Jim who, on his final medical, was found to need some dental work and missed that draft and then developed mumps which further delayed him.
Jim went to England on the "Port Sydney" via Durban and Cape Town, arriving in England the first week of September, 1916. The winter of 1916/17 in England was the coldest Jim ever experienced, being based at that time on the Salisbury Plains. He went to Prance via Southhampton, Cherbourg and on to Armentieres. On 8th August 1918, at Villiers Bretoneaux, he was wounded during the attack that broke the German lines and finally led to the cessation of hostilities. On that fateful morning he, as a lance corporal in charge of a Lewis gun platoon, was taking part in a dawn patrol. He was wounded in the hip at 4.40am. He knew this by virtue of the fact that his watch in his hip pocket filled with blood and stopped at that time. He was to spend a fortnight in a Canadian hospital in France before returning to England, going to Harefield where he remained till January 1919 when he was sent home from Southhampton on the hospital ship "Kanowna". Also during his service he was gassed and on one occasion was hit in the forehead by a bullet which penetrated his steel helmet but did not go any further. He was to suffer from his wounds for the rest of his life and was finally discharged on 14th November, 1917, when he returned home to Boomi.
In 1921 he purchased the property "Erinvale", 40 miles west of Moree and 40 miles east of Rowena where he resided until he took over "The Plantation", Boomi in 1927.
James married Elsa Mildred Jackson, elder daughter of Thomas Houston and Nina Amy Jackson nee Reardon, on 3 May, 1922 at Moree. She was born at Moree 27 Nov, 1898. They had six children:
James and Elsa were very involved in their local community all their lives and served on most committees in the Boomi district. James became a member of the Boomi Shire Council and served a term as President. He was elected to North West County Council and served for fifteen years and in 19?? was given a certificate of appreciation for his service. He joined Lodge Courallie of the Masons and was awarded a medal for forty years service; foundation President of Boomi Diggers Race Club and was granted life membership for his service to the club. He also served a three year term as President of the Boomi branch of the Graziers Association, was captain of the local Bush Fire Brigade and a committee member of the Boomi Picnic and Hibernian Race Clubs, being a vice president of both, vicars warden of the Anglican Church and Patron of cricket, tennis clubs and Boomi sub branch of the R.S.L. and local P. and C. He also was vice president of the Memorial Hall Committee.
Elsa was a vice president of Gwydir Group and local branch of C.W.A. and treasurer of the local branch and also District councillor for same. She was a committee member of most organisations in the district and was well known for her cooking and her raffle ticket selling.
In 1968 they retired to live in Moree where they Spent the rest of their lives. James passed away 8 June 1981 and Elsa on 26 April 1984. Both were well loved and respected by all who knew them.
Jim and Elsa moved into Moree in 1968, going to 5 Boggabilla Road (or number 3 as it was then).
Jim had his first heart attack in 1972, followed by three strokes in a row after which he gradually became housebound. Finally his outings became rare, and only to such special things as his three Granddaughters weddings - Robyn (Mrs. Phillip Tickle)on May 7, 1978; Wendi (Mrs. Bruce Carrigan, Boomi) on March 4, 1979 and Vicki (Mrs. David Onus, Bellata) on her twenty-first birthday, October 12, 1980, all three being daughters of Pat (Jim's youngest daughter and fifth child) and Wally Ward (Moree). He also went to Pat and Wally's Silver Wedding Party, 1980.
Other occasions were to Masonic events, once to receive a medal for 45 years membership, and once for the laying of the foundation stone of the new Masonic Lodge, both events being in 1980. Sister Beryl Smith of the Domiciliary Nursing Association accompanied him on all these occasions.
The last two outings in 1981 were a visit to see the cotton gins at Ashley, and to the Moree Show on Friday May 15, only 24 days before he died. Here Granddaughters Betty (Bingara) and .Anne (Armidale) first and second daughters of Wilfred and Barbara Burling - second and fourth children) and their children Peter, 6 (Betty's) and Lisa, 6 and Peta, 2 (Anne's), saw him for the last time.
Jim had a major heart attack and coronary on May 22 and was hospitalised for a week - May 29 to June 6, when he had a milder attack and was again hospitalised. His lungs couldn't function properly. He was having oxygen most of the time.
Elsa, Pat, Wilfred and Barbara all saw him on Sunday June 7 and on Sunday night he was in a lot of pain and had difficulty breathing.
When Elsa and Barbara arrived at the hospital on Monday afternoon - June 8, he had just passed away peacefully in his sleep.
On January 16, 1916, James and his younger brother Ted, decided to enlist in the Army. They and Billy Miller from the Fruit Shop which then existed in Boomi, and Charlie Barney from Barnato, the neighbouring property, hired Paddy Skinner's hire-car, a T-Model Ford, to take them to Garah to catch the train to Moree.
There they went to Dr. Harris for a medical examination. Charlie Barney could not be persuaded to take the plunge and have the examination and he just waited outside while the other three went in. All three passed, though nobody thought that Jim (James) would, as he had been sick for the last twelve months. He had had a boil on the liver.
This trouble had started in February, 1915 when Jim and his father, George were sawing wood at Plantation. The first day the wedge which kept the two pieces of timber apart as they were sawn, was forced out of place and it flew past Jim's head, causing him to feel the wind from it. Thus he had the first of several brushes with death. The wedge buried itself in the engine-room wall which was a good number of feet away from the wood heap.
As can be imagined, this was quite a shock to Jim, so it was not surprising when the next day he complained of severe pains in the chest. These became so bad that he had to go and lie down for the rest of the day.
Next day, when he was no better it was decided to take him to the Doctor in Moree. This was no mean feat as it meant going by horse and sulky to Garah where they could catch the train. The Doctor diagnosed the trouble as being a boil on the liver and he was put on a very strict diet and medicine for twelve months.
So it was indeed surprising that Jim passed his Medical. But he did.
Following the Medical the three of them had to go to the Enlistment Headquarters, which was at the Imperial Hotel, and be sworn in by two Policemen.
They stayed at the Hotel Moree in East Moree and the following day were taken to Inverell for the day by Jim's and Ted's Uncle Alan, from Warialda, who owned a car. This would be a great treat. They came back to Moree by train and the next day went home.
In passing it could be mentioned that about twelve months later Paddy Skinner himself joined up and Billy Law Senior took over the run. He was doing it when Jim came home from the War.
Ted went to England about six months before Jim because when it came to the final medical whilst at Armidale before leaving, Jim had to have two teeth filled, and his departure was delayed. Then he went down with the mumps at Maitland. Although, as a result of going earlier, Ted saw much more action than Jim, he only suffered one very superficial wound - a small gash in the calf of his right leg from a piece of shell. This kept him out of the front line for about a fortnight. The two brothers did not see each other at all while they were overseas.
The three men - Jim, Ted and Billy, had to report to Armidale for training a month after they enlisted. Then Jim went to Maitland after the regiment left for England.
Jim sailed for England on the "Port Sydney" via Capetown and Durban. While he was making the crossing he was sick every day and he reached the stage of not caring whether he lived or died. He said he was always squeamish even when going to Manly.
It took them about eight weeks to reach England and the passage through the Bay of Biscay was about as rough as that particular notorious piece of water can be.
However they finally reached England early in September, 1916 (September 3rd Jim thinks, but is not certain).
They were sent to the Australian Camp on Salisbury Plains. This was the Headquarters of the Australian Army in England. It was the coldest place that Jim had ever seen, with, at best, a bitterly cold wind sweeping over the plain.
That winter of 1916-17 was the coldest winter for many years and the ground froze to a depth of a foot. Here they were set to digging trenches in the frozen ground.
Jim crossed to France from Southampton to Cherbourg. They were then stationed at Armentieres till the Germans broke through on the Somme. Jim was a stretcher bearer for a time. When the Germans broke through, the Australians at Armentieres were loaded into cattle trucks on the train, forty to a truck and sitting on their kit-bags. This was on March 28, 1918. They were bundled down to where the Germans were and were unloaded at Corbet.
There were about a thousand of them and as they were marched to the front line they met the English retreating. Each Englishman they met was asked where the Germans were, saying "Where are they, Mate?" The reply was invariably the same, "Over there" pointing back to where they had come from as they kept going in the opposite direction.
The Germans were driven back and the area was taken, but the cost was high. When they were relieved on April 4 (some doubt about this date as Jim recalls that he was gassed later than the date when they were relieved but gives the date of being gassed as April 4) there were only 100 of the original 1,000 left, many of them having been killed; some retreated; some wounded and some gassed. We do know that Jim was gassed at this time.
At the time that he was gassed he was in charge of a Lewis gun. The Germans were keeping up a continuous bombardment of shells and periodically they sent over a gas shell. That meant, of course, that they should have been wearing a gas-mask all the time, but as Jim said, they just could not have operated efficiently if they had been wearing such cumber some gear all the time. So they were not wearing masks at the time that the gas shell burst close to them gassing them all.
Jim was taken to a field hospital where there were forty other patients, all of whom had been gassed. None of them could speak above a whisper, so there was a very unreal hush in the ward. This made even worse the fact that the German planes were continuously shelling the area all night in an attempt to destroy an ammunition dump that was in close proximity to the hospital. Jim said that it was so nerve-racking that he nearly went "into the horrors". The gassing took place at Corbet. The arsenal was missed, fortunately for all those in the hospital. However, Jim says that the sound of shell fire on T.V. or radio, even today, still gives him the same feeling of the horrors.
Jim went back to the Front again and was sent to the Villers Brettonneux area. Here he received two relatively minor wounds, either of which could have resulted in his death. First he was hit by a piece of shell which went through his tin hat and scraped the skin off his scalp for about an inch. This only put him out of action for a short time.
The next instance was an extremely lucky escape. He was hit by a piece of shell in the centre of the forehead just about the nose but it was glancing upwards as it hit and it did little damage.
On August 8, 1918, came the final wounding. Jim, who was still in charge of the lewis gun was taking part in a dawn patrol in Hamel Wood, near to Villers Brettonneux. He was leading one platoon and an officer was leading the neighbouring one. The officer told him that he was encroaching on his territory and therefore leaving a section uncovered on the other side of him.
Jim turned at right-angles and led his men back to their own territory and as he did so they were all struck down by an exploding shell. He has often asked himself since, whether, if they had been in the correct place in the first place or if he had not obeyed the officer he would have been wounded. He was wounded at 4-40 a.m. He knew the exact time because he had left his watch in his hip pocket and the blood getting into it stopped the watch. Five out of the six in the group were wounded and were lying round him - he says. he can still see that "picture". His one fear was, knowing that their own tanks were moving in, that the tank-drivers wouldn't see them but would go straight over them. However they were very lucky because the stretcher team was there almost immediately. Jim had received a shell wound in his hip.
He only heard of two of the others again after the War. One was a school teacher from Inverell and he came back safely although he had collected a bullet in his neck which they were able to pullout with tweezers at the Red Cross depot. The other one, O'Keefe from Gunnedah, who had put up his age to enlist, was kept in France to try to make him tell his correct age.
Eventually he was sent back to the front line where he was killed by a bullet through the head on the first night. Jim found this out at one of the 33rd Battalion's Reunions at Tamworth.
After Jim was wounded, he was sent to a Canadian hospital in France, where he remained for a fortnight. This was a marquee. From here he was sent to England where he was put into a small country hospital - Jim can't remember the name of it. Here there were two Indian Lady Doctors, who were very dark skinned, indeed.
Later he was sent to Harefield hospital which was in an outer suburb of London, of that name. Here he remained till early January when he went home.
They were told in hospital that those who were unfit to return to the front would be sent home and quite a few thought that they would be included particularly some who were quite badly wounded but Jim and one who had had his leg amputated were the only ones.
By the end of the year (1918) Jim was up and about on crutches and he thought that he would like to have the leave that was due to him and see a bit of England before he went home. So he asked the Sister in Charge what the chances were of getting leave. She said that there would be no trouble in getting leave but if he took her advice he wouldn't apply for it. If he did he would then be sent home on an ordinary troop ship where he would have to do everything for himself which meant that he would even have to get to the mess for his meals which would involve going up and down companionways. He would also have to get to the bathroom himself - all this on crutches and at sea. This was presumably because they thought that if he was fit to look after himself and travel round on leave, then he was quite fit to look after himself going home. Jim took the Sister's advice and on January 6, 1919, he sailed for home from Southampton on the hospital ship "Kanowna", a one-time Australian coastal vessel (and a strange co-incidence of name, as "Kanowna" is the name of a property at Boomi). It was only a four-week voyage this time instead of the first trip of eight weeks, and in much greater comfort and with everything done for him.
When he arrived in Sydney in early February, 1919, he was allowed home to Plantation for a fortnight's leave, after spending a short time in The Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick (Concord had not been built). Whilst there, his father wrote to say that they would bring a horse to Garah to meet him off the train so that he could ride home. He was writing home at the time and added a hasty postscript to his letter to tell them he was on crutches. This apparently was a terrible shock to the family because they had no idea just how badly he had been wounded and didn't know that at this stage he was still on crutches.
Once more the hire car service came into use, and Billy Law went out to Plantation to pick up Jim's parents to take them to Garah to meet the train.
When they arrived home his brother and sisters were lined up along the garden fence to welcome him home and to see the strange sight of their brother on crutches.
At the end of the fortnight he returned to The Prince of Wales Hospital, where he remained until November 15, 1919.
It was while he was there that he did quite a lot of handwork as therapy and occupation. I have in my possession some handworked cushion covers in a star pattern worked on lace. Three are finished and one has a little bit to be worked (Which I intend to do as the cottons are there to do it).
Whilst Jim was on leave he learnt of the very sketchy news his parents received of his being wounded. There was a brief telegram from the Military just stating that their son had been wounded - nothing more. However the Church of England Clergyman in Mungindi, Mr. Owens, had further details, and drove all the way from Mungindi to Plantation to tell them that he had been seriously wounded. This was a distance of fifty-odd miles and was by horse and sulky at that. A bit earlier he had done a similar trip to tell the Pitman family that their son, Billy, had been killed. So at least two families had reason to bless this thoughtful man. When Jim finally left hospital to come home, the pneumonic 'flu was bad ? he had already had it in England - and all people were supposed to wear masks in public, to stop spreading it and to stop contracting it. Nobody was permitted on any public transport without a mask. However Jim, having had it and finding it unpleasant to wear a mask, and hard to breathe - his lungs had been affected by the gas - tried to sneak onto the train without the offending mask. No such luck! The Medical Officer saw him and told him to put on the mask or else! He did - for about five minutes. Then back it went to hang round his neck for the rest of the journey home.
Regarding his bout of pneumonic 'flu, it seems that he was one of the first people to get it and the medical staff didn't know what it was. He ran a temperature of 103F. for ten days and the doctors thought that it was his leg causing it. Naturally they thought that it might be gangrene setting in.
Jim only found out about the temperature because he took a peep in the temperature book, which was not allowed of course! The Sister told him to put the book down, but when she realised that he had seen it anyhow, she told him just how ill he had been.
During the time that he was in the small hospital - the first in England ? where he was for six weeks, he had to have hot foments on his leg every two hours all the time he was there. In all that time only one was missed and that was because he was asleep, and the Sister wouldn't wake him because he had been sleeping so badly with the pain.
While Jim was in the Army the doctors told him that he had a cataract growing on his left eye but that they couldn't operate until it covered the whole eye. In 1979 Dr. Bill Hunter told him that nothing could have been done because the cataract grew behind the eye instead of over it and it could not be removed. He is now practically blind in both eyes with only about 3% vision (1980 ).
As well as this his lungs have fused together so that they cannot expand and therefore he cannot get sufficient oxygen - extra oxygen is given every night. The gas caused the fusing.
The leg still gives him a lot of trouble, but for many years he was off crutches and could even walk without a stick after an accident in the "forties". He couldn't start the lorry with the self-starter, and being independent he wouldn't wait for someone else to do it for him but got out and used the crank? handle. It kicked and hit him on the good leg. He thought that he was done for altogether, but instead the jar shook the pieces of bone off the nerve ? the reason that they couldn't be taken out was because they were too near to a main nerve and paralysis could have been caused. Instead of having two bad legs as expected he found that he could now walk without a stick - a blessing in disguise.
Another incident remembered about the War was that when Jim was a stretcher bearer at Armentieres, the Messines Ridge was blown up. The Germans had concrete buildings in this ridge, including even a dance hall! It was decided that this had to be blown up and tunnelling underneath the ridge to l~ the explosives began. They could never understand, when they saw the set-up, why the tunnelling had not been heard from inside the ridge. On June 7, 1917, the two volunteers went in and set off the explosives. They had been told to run for their lives but of course the officers in charge of the operation knew that they had no chance of coming out alive - hence the need for volunteers. The ridge was blown up, the battle was won and, unfortunately the two men lost their lives. When the inside of the ridge was examined the dance hall was found, complete with grand piano and a woman, dead, at the piano, and a dead child on the floor.
Jim was in the first re-enforcements at this time so did not take part in the incident.
The River Clarence at Grafton reminds Jim very much of the River Somme.
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When the Burling family went to Plantation in 1906, Bill Miller (the same one that joined up when Jim did) had a Fruit Shop in Boomi, which was situated between the Indian Store and The Pioneer Hotel. The Indian Store was where Dick McGregor later built his home. Opposite to the Fruit Shop and behind Butler's Store and yard was a Billiard Room. (This was mentioned in the Book, "The Shiralee" by Darcy Niland).
Since those days the Store has changed hands several times. Max Pitman and Albert Jakins took over from Butlers just after the Second World War. Not long after, Mrs. O'Sullivan took over - she and her husband had the Pub and they ran both for a time. Mrs. 0 ' Sullivan had some financial difficulties and Mrs. Frank Carrigan bought the building and the house that went with it and Mrs. O'Sullivan leased it.
Then it changed hands again and became The Ballonne Store. Following this it was closed for a period, but was re-opened by McLoughlin and Connolly. A short time after this, in 1954, Mrs. Hilty McMaster (Lavinia) took it over and kept it until her death in 1973. Fay Newman looked after it for the last few years of this period. Once more it was closed until Fay Rose (nee Rutley) bought it in 1979, and now (1980) the Store has been divided to form both Store and house.
Some time in the '70's Harry Adams of Barnato (the neighbouring property to Plantation) bought both Store and house. He still owns the house, and has let it to the two lady school teachers one of whom is a girl from Wallangra, and who, strangely enough had been to the dancing classes with which we were involved at Bukkulla.
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George Burling and family (Jim's father) left Warialda and went to Goondiwindi in March, 1906, looking for a property to buy. They looked at a place near to Goondiwindi on the Queensland side but could not come to terms and it fell through. George had sold his property at Warialda for £1 an acre (2,000 acres) and bought The Plantation for £1,100. It was bought from a man called Parry who bought a second property on the Watercourse and also called it Plantation. The one bought by the Burlings was originally part of "Welbondonga". It was bought in July, 1906.
In October, 1906, Grandma Burling's (George's wife) brother, Steve Allison, took about 28 head of cattle that belonged to him, from Goondiwindi to Plantation. Then Steve, Jim and a Mr. McGregor took sheep from Gunywarildi Station (near Warialda) to Plantation. Jim recalls that he missed a week's school to take the cattle down.
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In 1909 the first wheat grown in the Boomi area was sown on Plantation. That year about 20 acres was grown and was used by themselves. Then up to 60 acres was grown and the surplus was sold locally. In 1913 the first crop was stripped to be sold away from Boomi and in early 1914 Ted and Jim took the first commercial crop from Boomi to be put on the train at Garah. There were 500 bags of it and it took them two trips each with a borrowed team and their own horses, to get it there, 600 bags were stripped altogether but 100 were kept for their own use and for local sale ........ since then, wheat has always been grown on Plantation.
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Some time in the '30's Jim was struck by lightning. He was out in the paddock when lightning hit the ground and bounced back to hit the telephone line. It cut one line and bounced off it and hit Jim. It affected his right shoulder and the doctor told him that had it hit the next nerve it would have killed him ? just one more brush with death! Now the shoulder often affects him but only in recent years.
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George refused to have a telephone even though many people did have one at the time - shortly after the First World War probably in the very early '20's. Jim recalls one time when they all wished that they had a phone. All the family except Jim and the Governess (presumably for the younger members of the family) were in bed very ill. Jim had to get to Barnato about six miles away to go and see old Mrs. Killen (Killens lived there till just after the Second World War) who was a Nurse. Fortunately it was the day that the doctor from Mungindi visited Boomi and, as Killens did have the phone she was able to ring the doctor in Boomi and he was able to go out to Plantation later in the day. Meanwhile Mrs. Killen herself went to Plantation to do what she could until the doctor got there. When he got there he diagnosed it as pneumonic 'flu. Jim, of course had had it while he was in hospital during the War.
They finally had the telephone put on in 1927.
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Jim remembers how proud they all were when the family bought a cylinder model gramophone from Butler's Store at Boomi. Then how it was replaced by a more modern type. The old one, though still working was thrown away, Jim thinks, down the old well at Wilga, Moree, when his father and mother moved there when he, Jim, took over Plantation. What wouldn't we all give to have that sort of antique now?
A fact little known by members of the family is that two of Jim's family died at birth. He thinks that one was between the third youngest, Fan and the second youngest, Mary and that one was between Mary and the youngest, May.
Mrs. Whiffen, known as Auntie Alice, was adopted by the Burlings (George and Agnes) as her mother died when she was born and her father was killed down a well. Her parents were neighbours and friends. Alice was two years older than Jim.
Jim recalls that until he went into the Army he was a fussy eater but that the Army cured all that. He has certainly been an easy man to feed since I have known him, as is also his son, my husband. Both of them will try anything and, in most cases, enjoy it. Jim said that even being short of food or at least on strict rations at the Front didn't cure some, as he saw a number who didn't like bully-beef, throw their tins away unopened.
May Agnes Burling tells that one of her earliest recollections of Plantation was having to polish the floor of the big gauze-room with sour milk because it cost nothing and it gave a lasting surface. She said that they all hated the job because of the smell and because it was hard work. Because she was the youngest the job often fell to her.
George and Agnes' second and third daughters, Fanny Anne and Mary, quarrelled with each other at one time and did not speak directly to each other for two years but because of the size of the family nobody realised it.
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COMPLETE LISTING PAGE
BURLINGS SPREAD YOUR WINGS, A History of the Descendants of Allan and Mary Burling. (nee Peachey),
compiled and researched by Wilfred James Burling.
First Edition, 1991: ISBN: 0 86428 115 3: Copyright 1991: With additional updates as supplied
For further information or to supply updates and additional information, please contact::EMAIL: ATTENTION Burling History