The AIF Project

Nelson Wesley BARWISE

Regimental number1670
Place of birthStawell, Victoria
SchoolState School, Stawell, Victoria
ReligionSalvation Army
OccupationLabourer
AddressKellett Street, Northcote, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation24
Next of kinMother, Mrs Harriett Barwise, c/o Mr W T Carey, Kellett Street, Northcote, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date15 May 1915
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name23rd Battalion, 2nd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/40/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A64 Demosthenes on 16 July 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll23rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 20 March 1917
Place of death or woundingAlbert, France
Age at death25
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
98
Family/military connectionsBrothers: 34206 Driver Albert George BARWISE, 1st Division Artillery Headquarters, returned to Australia, 20 June 1919; 34207 Driver Henry William BARWISE, 13th Field Artillery Brigade, returned to Australia, 19 October 1918; Cousins: 3
Other details

Statement, Red Cross File No 0270205G, 3872 Pte W.F. MELBOURNE, A Company, 23rd Bn, 5 July 1917: 'He was in B Co., 7th platoon. He came from Victoria with the battalion and was killed at Noreuil in March, 1917. His body was buried by a fatigue party at the spot where it was found; the party was in charge of Lieut. Fethers of the 23rd battalion, B Co. There is a cross on the grave. It is near the Cambrai-Noreuil Road. I could point out the spot.'

Second statement, 4018 Pte S.PROPATING, B Company, 23rd Bn (patient, 3rd Southern General Hospital, Oxford, England), 6 July 1917: 'Pte. Barwise (23. B. VII) was buried by a salvage party in an open field between Noreuil and Vaulx (Bullecourt) between April 15th and 20th. It must have been 2 or 3 weeks after he was killed. I was there when his body was found and three of them were buried together. They identified him by his disc and I believe also by some letters. I was also in the attack on the village but was not near him when he was killed; we did not take the village at the time but it was in our hands when he buried him.'

Third statement, 623 Pte Henry OAKLEY, C Company, 23rd Bn (patient, Harborne Hall VAD Hospital, Birmingham, England), 6 July 1917: 'I knew Barwise well. We called him "Nelly". He was a bit of a ladies man. We were together in Egypt. Came to France on the same transport. He was killed at Noreuil on the 20th March 1917 when we attacked an enemy position and failed. We were trapped under artillery fire in broad day light. The body of Barwise was not recovered for burial until some time afterwards because we were driven back. I know he was buried at Noreuil although I have not seen his grave.'

Fourth statement, 4501 Pte A.L. SWIFT, 23rd Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 23 August 1917: 'This side Noreuil Near Bullecourt we were returning when he was shot by Machine Gun - shot through the heart - dead as soon as stretcher bearers got to him. I was close to him at the time we had to leave him could not go back, but later on the ground was retaken by us - I was in the same Coy. He had an effeminate way of talking and we nicknamed him "Nellie".'

Fifth statement, 4379 Pte S.R. DALLISTON, 23rd Bn, 29 August 1917: 'Casualty was called "Nelly". He was killed on the Some on the 27th March at Bapaume. Casualty was in the trench. He was destroyed by H.E. shell according to Pte. J. Connop of the 23rd Btn. B. Coy. now in Edmonton Hospital, England.'

Sixth statement, 3392 Pte J.H. FLOWER, 23rd Bn, 21 December 1917: 'I knew Casualty. I was returning from Noreuil and Casualty was about 20 yds from me. I saw him fall and went over to him. He was hit by a machine gun bullet and was dead when I got there. He was buried just near where he fell.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesRed Cross File No 0270205G

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