Archie Barwick

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Archie Albert Barwick
Archie Barwick.jpg
Born7 March 1890
Died1966 (aged 76)
Armidale, New South Wales
AllegianceAustralia/British Empire
Service/branchFirst Australian Imperial Force
Years of service1914–1919
Service number914[1]
Unit1st Battalion
Battles/warsWorld War I:
AwardsBelgian Croix de Guerre[2]
British War Medal[2]
Victory Medal[2]

Archie Albert Barwick (7 March 1890 – 1966) was an Australian farmer and soldier known for his extensive diaries documenting his service in World War I.

Early life[edit]

Barwick was born in Monmouth County, Tasmania (now known as Monmouth Land District) on 7 March 1890 to George Arthur Sturgeon and Elizabeth Ann Barwick.[3][2] He grew up on his family's property near Hobart, Tasmania, and as a young man moved to New South Wales to manage a sheep property.[3]

World War I[edit]

Barwick joined the First Australian Imperial Force on 24 August 1914 at Randwick, New South Wales, at the age of 24, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion.[2][3] He was enthusiastic about enlisting, recording in his diary that he "threw 2 or 3 somersaults" in celebration.[3] After completing his initial training, he embarked on HMAT A19 Afric on 18 October 1914 and arrived in Egypt for training on 9 December 1914.[4] Barwick, like many soldiers, climbed the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Khufu, and considered the Pyramid of Khafre to be the more dangerous for climbing.[3]

His training was completed in March 1915 and on 4 April 1915, he was among the first troops to embark for the Dardanelles.[3][5][6] On the journey there, the soldiers were paid with Turkish currency, which Barwick said in his diary showed the confidence of success of the Allied commanders. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, the first day of the Gallipoli Campaign. He fought in the Battle of Lone Pine and was part of the second-last group to leave Gallipoli when Allied troops were evacuated in December 1915 after what Barwick described as "one of the most glorious and [at] the same time disastrous campaigns as Great Britain ever had anything to do with".[3]

Barwick was then posted to France, arriving in March 1916 after a brief stay in Egypt. He fought in France and Belgium from 1916–1918. During this time, he saw action at major battles of the Somme Offensive, including the Battle of Pozières and the Battle of Flers–Courcelette, and in the Battle of the Lys. His company was involved in the capture of the town of Pozières in July 1916 under a "fearful bombardment" of German shells; he was made corporal on 1 August 1916 and then sergeant in October 1916.[2][3] He was sent as an instructor to Durrington Camp near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England in May 1917 and returned to France in September 1917.[7][3] He was injured three times, in November 1916, April 1917 and April 1918.[4][8] The third occasion was the most serious, when an exploding shell caused him severe chest injuries. He was hospitalised for 16 weeks in Birmingham Hospital, and remained in England until the end of the war recovering from his injury.[9][3]

His two brothers Leonard (known as Len) and Norman Stanley (known as Stan) also served during World War I.[9] Len enlisted on 26 October 1914 and served in the 13th Battalion and the 1st Battalion (alongside Archie).[10][9] He survived the war, being discharged in September 1918 and returning to Australia.[9][11][3] Stan enlisted on 8 July 1916 and served in the 12th Battalion.[12] While Archie was recovering from his second injury in April 1917, he and Stan were briefly reunited.[6] Stan was killed in action on 8 October 1917 near Remus Wood, during the third phase of the Battle of Passchendaele.[3][13]


Barwick was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre on 19 January 1918, receiving the notification on 5 February 1918.[2][3] His award was announced in his home state in April 1918, the London Gazette in July 1918, and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette in November 1918.[14][15][16] He was presented with his award on 13 September 1918.[6]

He also received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.[2]


Barwick kept a total of 16 diaries documenting his war service, approximately 400,000 words in total.[3] He tried to keep a daily record of his experiences,[17] however he was sometimes forced to write entries significantly later or from notes.[18] His diaries are noted for their detailed description of his experiences and for their style, which has been described as similar to the Boys' Own publications.[19] His set of diaries is one of the best-known and most extensive first-hand accounts of service in World War I.[3][20][21]

About 4 oclock Reveille sounded & upon we all jumped & got dressed ... we heard a tremendous roar, up we all rushed, to get a look at what was going on, one of our ships had opened fire on "Gaba Tepe" soon the whole fleet of warships were belting away for all they were worth ... we watched this scene for about 10 minutes, & the order came for every man to get ready to move off ... about 5 or 5.30 we heard a crackle of rifle fire & we knew then that the 3rd Brig. had landed, we then got the order to fill the boats & down we filed on to a destroyer ... she had a few wounded & dead men on her, they were the first we had ever seen, they made no difference to us, & now let me say right here, for it is true as true can be, those of our chaps who had cards, fetched them out & started playing ... the destroyer rushed us over as fast & as far as she could & then the sailors met us with rowing boats we quickly filled these & off we went with shells bursting all around us, we were lucky in our boat for only one man was hit ... we reached the beach at last & we leaped out quick & lively, I must have jumped into a deep place for I went in up to my arm-pits & had to struggle ashore with about 150 lb on my back, & rifle held high over my head to keep it from getting wet. some of our Battn's boats were not so lucky as we were, for one or two of them got smashed right up & everyone was drowned they would sink like a stone with such a weight on them after we got ashore Lieut Payne got us together & we started up for the firing line. I should think it was about 6 oclock then for the sun was just rising. ... we scrambled up the hill for about 200 yards, & then we dumped our packs, & started off at a fair pace for the firing line ... it did seem funny to hear the bullets cutting into the scrub alongside of us as we went along, but no one seemed afraid, & we were laughing & joking as we went along, I don't want you to think I am skiting when you read this, for I will take my oath on it that it is true, I know myself I never felt the slightest fear the first day or two, it was when we began to realize that bullets hurt when they hit you, that we knew what fear was.

Archie Barwick, Diary entry for 25 April 1915 describing the first landing at Gallipoli[22]

An abridged edition (approximately 133,000 words) was published in 2013.[3][23]

Life after World War I[edit]

Barwick returned to Australia in 1919, leaving England on 4 December 1918 and arriving in Australia in January 1919.[3] He was formally discharged from the army on 30 March 1919.[2] On his return, a welcome party was held for him at Woolbrook, New South Wales on 3 May 1919.[24] He lived for some time in Tasmania before returning to New England. Barwick married Mona Carroll in 1930. The couple had three children, John, Judy and Tim, and lived on a property near Armidale, New South Wales. He was a justice of the peace and, during World War II, was placed in charge of the local Volunteer Defence Corps.[3]

Archie Barwick died on 28 January 1966 at Uralla, New South Wales.[3][25]

In popular culture[edit]

Archie Barwick was one of the six Australians whose war experiences were presented in The War That Changed Us, a four-part television documentary series about Australia's involvement in World War I.[26][27]


  • Barwick, Archie (2013), In great spirits: the WWI diary of Archie Barwick, Sydney South, NSW HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 978-0-7322-9718-3

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "First World War Embarkation Rolls – Archie Albert Barwick". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "National Archives of Australia – Digital copy of item with barcode 3055128". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Barwick, Archie (2013). In great spirits: the WWI diary of Archie Barwick. Sydney South: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780732297183.
  4. ^ a b "Barwick diaries, 22 August 1914 – 26 January 1919 / Archie Barwick". Catalogue. State Library of NSW. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Archie Barwick's story". State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Caulfield, Michael (2013). The Unknown Anzacs: the real stories of our national legend told through the rediscovered diaries and letters of the Anzacs who were there. Sydney: Hachette Australia. ISBN 9780733629327.
  7. ^ "PERSONAL". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 7 July 1917. p. 3. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  8. ^ "ROLL OF HONOUR. 399th CASUALTY LIST". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 11 May 1918. p. 7. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d "Archie Barwick diaries". Curio. State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Barwick Leonard George : SERN 1035 : POB Hobart TAS : POE Liverpool NSW : NOK Barwick G A". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  11. ^ "RETURNING ANZACS". The Sydney Morning Herald. NSW: National Library of Australia. 11 November 1918. p. 8. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Barwick, Norman Stanley, Corporal, Regimental Number 6617, 12th Battalion [Application for War Gratuity]". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Tasmanian Casualties". Examiner. Launceston, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 7 December 1917. p. 3 Edition: DAILY. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  14. ^ "TASMANIA". The Mercury. Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 9 April 1918. p. 6. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  15. ^ "FIFTH SUPPLEMENT TO the London Gazette". The London Gazette (30792). 9 July 1918. Archived from the original on 17 August 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Honours and Awards – Archie Albert Barwick". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  17. ^ "Item 03: Archie Barwick diary, 10 May-23 July 1916". State Library of NSW. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  18. ^ "Item 09: Archie Barwick diary, 14 April 1917 – 19 May 1917". State Library of NSW. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  19. ^ MacFie, Peter (December 2008). "First World War soldiers of the Richmond Municipality". Papers and Proceedings: Tasmanian Historical Research Association. 55 (3): 222–234. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  20. ^ Cochrane, Peter (6 April 2011). "Oh God what a fight". The Australian. Nationwide News Pty Limited. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  21. ^ Perkins, Yvonne. "The Diaries of a WWI Soldier". Stumbling Past. Yvonne Perkins. Archived from the original on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  22. ^ "Item 01: Archie Barwick diary, 22 August 1914 – September 1915". State Library of New South Wales. Archived from the original on 24 March 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  23. ^ "In Great Spirits Archie Barwick's WWI Diary – from Gallipoli to the Western Front and Home Again". HarperCollins Publishers Australia. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  24. ^ "SOLDIERS OF THE NORTH". Daily Observer. Tamworth, NSW: National Library of Australia. 7 May 1919. p. 5. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  25. ^ "New South Wales Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages". New South Wales Government. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  26. ^ "The War That Changed Us". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 8 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  27. ^ "The War That Changed Us". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]