100 YEARS AGO TODAY: Archie Barwick sailed out, and, above, the troopship Themistocles.
100 YEARS AGO TODAY: Archie Barwick sailed out, and, above, the troopship Themistocles.

Diggers head to war

JUDY Hassell's thoughts will be in the distant past today as she thinks of her dad and his part in history.

Judy is now a Coffs Coast local and her father Archie Barwick was among the thousands of diggers who became the first to leave for war zones on the other side of the world, 100 years ago today, from Albany in Western Australia.

Born in Tasmania and a one time rep cricket player Archie was managing a sheep station in NSW when he answered the call to fight for King and country.

He enlisted in the AIF 1st Battalion and rose to the rank of Sergeant and after fighting at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, he was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre. He was wounded several times and spent time in England recovering.

Over the course of the war Archie sent 14 diaries home to his family and came home with the last two in his possession. Those diaries are now considered among the best produced during the war, and have formed the basis for several books.

A diary entry from November 1, 1914 details how he left Albany thinking he knew where he was going to.

"When we sailed we were under the impression that we were bound for the Old Country, and great was our disappointment of learning later that we were going to Egypt to complete our training."

Archie Barwick died in Armidale aged 76.



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