PRIVATE ERNEST GEORGE DORNBUSCH
AUSTRALIAN MACHINE GUN CORPS
14TH NOVEMBER 1916 AGE 27
BURIED: WARLENCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
This is an unusual inscription from an unusual source, the Bhagavad-Gita a Hindu scripture. It's an interesting inscription too, especially for a machine gunner. Krishna argues:
"Thou grievest where no grief should be! thou speak'st words lacking wisdom! for the wise in heart mourn not for those that live, nor those that die. ... He who shall say, "Lo! I have slain a man!" He who shall think, "Lo! I am slain!" those both know naught! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain! Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never; never was time it was not; end and beginning are dreams! Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever; death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems!"
The Bhagavad-Gita Book 2
There's another interesting aspect to this inscription. There were only three Dornbusches killed in the First World War and buried in War Grave Commission cemeteries and the other two are German soldiers: Kanonier Hermann Dornbusch and Obermatrose Karl Johann Dornbusch. Is this why the Australian National War Memorial records his name as Ernest George Dornbush, without the telltale 'c'? This is the way he spelt his name when he enlisted, and the way his mother spelt her name when she signed the form for the Roll of Honour of Australia, although someone has written on the outside of this form, "correct name Dornbusch".
George Ernest Dornbusch was born in London. His parents emigrated to Australia when he was five months old and settled in Sydney where he attended Sydney Grammar School. On enlistment, Dornbusch described himself as an engineer. His mother on the Roll of Honour goes further and describes him as a "sheep shearing machinery expert". He enlisted in April 1915, served in Gallipoli and France and was killed on 14 November 1916.
A Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau search revealed that he had been killed by a shell.
"I was in company with this man in an attack near Fleurs. I was injured by the shell that killed Durnbush. ... I knew him well, we were in the same gun coy. ... This man was killed instantly but I can give you no details re his burial. I saw him lying dead before I was my self removed to the clearing hospital."
Durnbusch was buried in a shell hole and after the war his body was reinterred in Warlencourt British Cemetery.