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No 49 August 2008

Page history last edited by Robyn Lockwood 12 years, 2 months ago









August  2008                                                                                      by Frodo & Peter


No 49




 Greetings everyone from the vibrant History Room volunteers at the Alexandrina Library in Goolwa. Our Dawn is still away sunning herself in the Northern climes. Will she ever come back? Hope you are having a great time Dawn.






The volunteers enjoyed attending the “Cupcakes in the Library” on Thursday 7th August , and thank the Library Staff for the invitation.




The Barber boys and WW1



Three gentlemen, Frank TUCKWELL, Geoff BYRNES and Walter PRETTY, have been doing their homework and have collected a whole bunch of documents about Captain William Barber, (photo below), an early Murray River navigator, and his sons John and William, and have sent the documents to the National Archives. Captain Barber and his wife Elizabeth had 10 children all born in Goolwa. Two of them, John and William, were soldiers in the war supposedly to “End all Wars”. They both died in France, John Ross Barber (age 40) died near Villers-Bretonneux in 1917, and William (age 47) died in the infamous Fromelles battle of 1916, where remains of deceased soldiers were recently found. William’s memorial is in the “V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles”. An account of the action in which William died is available from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site,    http://www.cwgc.org/ .


            It seems that both men have Memorial scrolls and plaques, somewhere, possibly Victoria Barracks, but not in Goolwa, as they are not amongst our memorials. The documents have also been passed on to the local RSL, who will hopefully add these two brave men to our memorials in Goolwa.




Two extremely valuable websites with information covering the various war service records are the “Australian War Memorial” web Site http://www.awm.gov.au/ , and the “National Archives of Australia” web Site  http://www.naa.gov.au/ .


There are many items to search within the Australian War Memorial site, but choosing “Biographical databases” and then choosing “Nominal Rolls” gives us valuable lists of participants in all the wars from the Sudan war in 1885 through to the Gulf War. The “First World War Embarkation Roll” gives us the details of about 330,000 AIF personnel recorded as they embarked from Australia for overseas service during WW1.


Selecting “Second World War” gives the valuable “World War 2 Nominal Roll”. This roll includes the soldiers name, rank, service number, date and place of birth, next of kin, etc...


The “National Archives of Australia” website allows you to get either details to purchase a chosen record from Canberra, or, if the record is digitized, to view the actual record. It is not really clear how to start your search on this large website. A suggestion


is - at the main website page click “Collection”. Then click on “Record Search” at the bottom of the selections and then click on “Search now – as a guest user”. On the blank entry page that appears, type the name you want (Surname comma Given Name) e.g., Barber, William.


Selecting the page for William Barber gives the following:


By selecting “View digital copy”, the pages copied from his war service record will be displayed. In William Barber’s case there were 46 pages digitised in his record. Reading through these pages is a sobering exercise. Entries such as “Missing” and “Killed in Action”, and advice that the Identification disc had been received from Germany are all recorded.





The letter (left) in German concerns the return of William’s Identification disc.       





Interesting letters (below) regarding William’s Memorial Plaque and medals are displayed below. His brother Arthur Drake Barber, with his address being Cobdogla, River Murray, S.A., received William’s plaque and medals. William’s sister Winifred Mary Wehl nee Barber wrote both letters.




Finally to close this brief reference to William Barber’s war service is the page showing the medals he was posthumously awarded.



Apropos of last issue’s reference to a school in Victoria making oral history part of their syllabus, it seems we here in South Australia have already had such – 2 years ago, Goolwa’s own “Centre for Positive Ageing” published a lovely little book, A Dent In The Ol’Bucket-a blending of two generations: Story-Tellers and their scribes, a co-production with 24 Year 10 English students from Investigator College. The result is 19 stories – ‘snippets’, but at least on paper, with photos – available for loan or read in the History Room.


Happy researching,


Genealogy help is available by appointment on Thursdays, to guide you through your research. Please phone the Library on 8555-7000 to make an appointment. For comments, suggestions or to receive this newsletter – email


historyroom2004@yahoo.com.au or phone the Library on 8555-7000


Back copies of this newsletter can be sourced on the Alexandrina Council website –






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