Australian World War 1 Army Identity Tag – E. Barber 3149
Unofficial World War 1 AIF ID tag made from Greek silver drachm. Obverse of coin has been skimmed and the coin has been holed. The skimmed obverse has been crudely engraved with “wiggle-work” and reads:
TPR. E. BARBER
1. A.L.H. REGT
Ernest William Barber, a farm hand from Corowa, NSW enlisted in 1st AIF 23/11/16. At the time of his enlistment he said his age was 19. Taken onto the strength of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment with the service number 3149 he shipped out of Australia in May 1917 and arrived in the Suez on 20/6/17. Over the next 18 months Barber served in the Middle East with the 1st A.L.H. and was admitted several times to hospital suffering conjunctivitis and malaria. He was flagged for early repatriation and departed Pt Said, Egypt 9/4/19 and arrived in Sydney 16/5/19. He was officially discharged from from the Australian Light Horse 16/6/19. Here things take a twist because on the same day in Holdsworthy NSW he re-enlisted with Special Services AIF with the service number 85933 into the “Escort German Repatriation” unit. Barber was shipped back to London on 8/7/19, presumably acting as a guard for returning German Internees from Torrens Island in South Australia on the ship “Tras-os-Montes” and arrived 6/9/19. Further service in Euripe wasn’t on Ernest’s mind as just two days later asked to leave the unit and was returned to Australia a month later on 8/10/19.
Barber’s story does not end there, he again served Australia in the second AIF and re-enlisted on 1 July 1940 in Wagga Wagga with the service number NX36064. However, he was not truthful with his age so he could get around the age limit on enlistment of 40 years, subtracting 10 years from his actual age. His second AIF enlistment papers list his DOB at 3/1/1907, while in reality his actual birth year was 1897. Barber served for more than 1000 days of WW2, the majority of it outside of Australia. His time was spent serving in the 2/14 Australian Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers. He mostly held the rank of corporal and acted variously as a carpenter or tailor during his service. He suffered a bout of Malaria while overseas in May 1944 (perhaps a flare up from his WW1 service) and was returned to Australia. This lead to him being discharged in July 1944 because there was no suitable vacancy in which he could be employed.
Research has turned up little of Ernest William Barber’s life but we do know he worked as a miner at some point and he passed away on 4 May 1970 in Rockley, NSW.
Ernest William Barber Service Record – https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=4878295
Public Trustee Notice – https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/220164672?searchTerm=ernest%20william%20barber
Tras-os-Montes German Internees – https://torrensislandinternmentcamp.com.au/deportation.html