Serial No. 34
Army Field Post Office Detail
George Burns - Information
The story of George Burns is utterly a sad one. George was the illegitimate son of Mary Burns, and born in Darlinghurst in 1891. Unfortunately when George was almost two years old, his mother died. The police investigated the matter and could not locate any willing relatives to take care of him. As a result, George was placed as a ward of the state. He then came to Campbelltown placed in the care of the nuns at the Catholic Convent School. When he was old enough, state custody was relinquished. He travelled around a bit before finding work with the General Post Office in Sydney.
While working in the city and living in Newtown, George was able to find a semblance of a family life, which he sorely craved. He became exceptionally close with a young Mr Scott who worked with him at the Post Office and his family, whom resided at Allanton on Perry St in Campsie. They became good friends, and George often spent holidays and weekends with the Scott family. While visiting their home, he found a mother figure in Ellen Scott. George referred to Ellen as her own sons did and often went to her seeking advice.
George soon decided to enlist in the military for war service, joining up at Warwick Farm on the 21st of August 1915 at the age of 24. Rather sweetly, he named Ellen Scott as his next of kin on the application form. Because of George's work experience, he was assigned to the Army Field Post Office Detail as a Private. On the 2nd of November 1915, he embarked Melbourne on the RMS Medina for overseas. When he disembarked, he was stationed with the Australian Postal Service in England. He was soon promoted to Corporal on the 8th of March 1916. After a stretch in hospital, George had returned to postal service duties at Mt Pleasant in May 1917. Unfortunately after he returned, he was having a rough time. He was very upset about one of his close friends being transferred to the front in July. According to the men in his postal unit, he would have crying spells at night over the transfer of his friend. Shortly afterwards, George was advised that he was also to be moved from No. 2 to No. 3 Group Post Office. He absolutely did not want to be transferred and he refused the order to leave.
George then became very worried that he would get into trouble for refusing an order, and be forced to relocate anyway. At Fovant Camp Post Office on the 17th of October 1917, George walked into the main office and grabbed the service revolver kept there, placed it into his mouth and fired. An inquest was held at Fovant Military Hospital following Georgeâs death. After interviewing soldiers from the postal camp, it was concluded that the cause of death was suicide from a self-inflicted gun shot wound. George was buried at Fovant (St George) Churchyard, with full military honours.
Finalising the paperwork for his file, the army began searching for Georgeâs relatives to send correspondence and bestow his war service medals. The army was unable to locate any relatives. In 1921, the clerks at Base Records Victoria Barracks in Melbourne began writing to Ellen Scott for answers. Ellen informed the army of the circumstances surrounding George's childhood and life in Sydney. Ellen was heartbroken at the loss of George who was like a son, and exclaimed that she would be honoured to receive his medals. The army concurred and promptly sent them to her in Campsie. Georgeâs name is proudly recorded on the 1914-1918 Plaque at Dredge's Cottage, on Queen St, Campbelltown.