|164. LEXIUS-BURLINGTON, Charles.|
|"Lasseter took objection to having Burlington as a member of the expedition".|
|Fred Blakeley, Dream Millions. 5.|
Charles Lexius-Burlington was briefly involved in organising the First Expedition, Idriess mentions that he negotiated an arrangement with A.G. Hebblewhite to secure the loan of a Thornycroft truck for six months. Blakeley agrees and adds that Lexius-Burlington and Coote were the 'live wires' that joined the Company, and things fairly hummed. Just as the Expedition was about to leave Sydney, Lasseter took exception to having Lexius-Burlington on the team for Central Australia. The company bowed to Lasseter demands and Philip Taylor went in his stead. Blakeley could never understand why Lasseter took exception to this good humoured and knowledgeable man.
Errol Coote's introduction occurred one Wednesday afternoon when he walked into the A.W.U. offices to be greeted by Ern Bailey with the news that a fellow by the name of Charles Lexius Burlington was waiting in John Bailey's office, adding that the visitor had an interest in the Expedition and aviation and had been personal mechanic to Lord Trenchard. When Coote arrived he found a tall fair haired man surrounded by maps and newspapers who rose to greet him affably, and offer help in setting up the Expedition. Coote soon learnt that Chas Lexius-Burlington had seen some of the World, had connections in high places, especially British finance, and had more than a passing interest in gold mining and map making. As Chairman of the Transport Committee, one of Coote's immediate problems was a truck for the Expedition, within the hour Lexius-Burlington had arranged the loan of a Thornycroft truck for six months at no cost to the Company and the Manager of Thornycroft in Australia, Mr. A. G. Hebblewhite would announce the details at that nights Company meeting.
The following day Lexius-Burlington again demonstrated his initiative and connections by suggesting he and Coote visit Professor Sir Edgeworth David at Sydney University to learn something of the country they would be travelling through, and perhaps secure the services of an undergraduate as assistant surveyor on the Expedition. Sir Edgeworth certainly enlightened them on the geology of central Australia but could not help with a surveying student. And that is the last time Coote mentions Lexius-Burlington. That afternoon a Company meeting was called to name the members of the Expedition, only the position of mechanic, preferably one with aviation experience, remained to be filled. It seems odd that just a matter of hours earlier Coote was in the company of the ideal man for the job. Apart from excellent experience and credentials Lexius- Burlington was a shareholder in the Company, listed on the share register between Lasseter and Blakeley.
Lexius-Burlington's sudden disappearance from the organisation of C.A.G.E. and Lasseter's dislike of the man has much to do with the following postscript to a letter written by Coote to Colonel Brinsmead dated 21/6/30, P.S. A fellow named Burlington is trying to butt in on this expedition, but several Federal Members have warned us that his presence will not only be a handicap, but will be resented. He says he is a competent aircraftsman, mechanic and flying man. Could you let us know if this is so?. Anyhow he is NOT going with us.
So Lexius Burlington had made enemies in high places and low, in the case of Coote and Lasseter it was competition and the likely risk of exposure that excluded the most experienced member of the team from going on the Expedition. Coote was jealous of his position as pilot, Second in Charge of the Expedition and Chairman of the Transport Committee, he would have felt quite threatened in having to work with a fellow, who in the space of a couple of hours organised free transport and valuable time with Sir Edgeworth David. Lasseter knew he would have been exposed two days out of Alice Springs at the latest, if Lexius-Burlington were on that journey. Of course if the right reasons were ever considered he should have been the leader. But John Bailey would never have that, there being a vast difference in ideology and motive. Pondering that and the calibre of some of the members of the Expedition, Lexius Burlington probably had early reservations about travelling with them.
Lasseter's issue with him was over maps and the last person Lasseter wanted on the Expedition was a fellow who knew maps, geology and had a good knowledge of Central Australia. It's quite possible that Lexius-Burlington privately exposed Lasseter as early as mid June hence Coote's letter of the 21st, another example of Coote pushing his venal agenda while taking up the cudgels for Lasseter.
© R.Ross. 1999-2006