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Thread: A reminder of how savage life was in WW1

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    Default A reminder of how savage life was in WW1

    I came across this medal and its story on ebay. I was going to bid on it, but due to interest because of the story it went a bit high for me. But I thought it was still worth posting up.




    I have just cut and pasted the ebay description as it tells the tragic story very well........



    Australian WW1 AIF Victory Medal, 44th Battalion, one of two inseparable twin brothers. Both wounded in action during a trench raid on the night of 4th June 1917, Archie Barley dying of his wounds overnight whilst his brother fought desperately to keep him alive in a shell hole.

    Some heart rending descriptions in the Red Cross File. (19 pages)



    1788 PTE. A. R. BARLEY 44 BN. A.I.F.



    BARLEY, Pte. Archie Reginald, 1788. 44th Battalion. Australian Infantry. Killed in action 4th June, 1917. Buried in the Strand Military Cemetery (Plot VIII, Row G, Grave 4) Ploegsteert Belgium.



    ‘Parties from the 43rd and 44th Battalion…ordered to carry out a daylight raid on the enemy trenches…enter German lines and secure prisoners and material…as parties withdrew, Private A.R. Barley was wounded by shellfire and fell into shell hole (hit by shell which carried away part of his side)…his twin brother, Pte. R.E. Barley immediately attended to him…stayed with him using shirt and tunic for bandages and covering…until he died…returning after dark almost clothe less…in a pitiful state…demented with grief and beyond giving particulars.’

    ‘He was in raid at Ploegsteert three days before the Messines push. There were two brothers of this name in the same company who were inseparable. One got wounded in a shell hole, the other brother got back and went out again to him and stayed with him all night. The one in the shell hole died and his brother got wounded and a patrol brought him in. It was impossible to tell one from the other.’

    Vera Deakin of the Red Cross, to a member of the 44th Battalion, wrote a letter, ’the pathetic story of these two brothers has been given to us by some of the men of the battalion, and it appears that the brother was the only witness of the casualty. As he seems to have been so terribly distressed by what he witnessed, we would rather ask you to supply details…’




    Originally buried in amongst the German wire, east of an overturned German concrete dugout, south of the mine crater, WSW of Messines Belgium. Buried by Chaplain J.E.N.Osborne of the 35th Bn.



    Twin 19 year old brothers, both stockmen, from Hughenden Queensland, the Barley twins enlisted together in March 1916 and were given consecutive regimental numbers of 1787 and 1788 in the 41st Battalion AIF.

    They left Australia together and disembarked in Plymouth England 13th October 1916, transferred to the 44th Battalion 27th October 1916, and were sent overseas to France, from their place of birth, Southhampton, England on the 25th November 1916.

    Archie Reginald Barley was first reported MIA 4th June 1917, was later confirmed KIA 4-6-1917.

    He was wounded very badly whilst on a raid and his brother Ronald Ernest Barley found him mortally wounded and spent the night out with him in No Man's Land in a failed attempt to keep him alive. Ronald was nearly demented with grief upon his return to Australian lines, near naked after using his tunic to keep his brother warm and badly enough wounded to be evacuated to England with severe gunshot wounds to the face and thigh. Ron Barley never returned to the Western Front and was sent home to Australia for a change 25-8-1917. The photograph of the two Barley brothers not included in sale.

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    Jims Brother (10-07-12),mkhannah (10-07-12)



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    They say nowadays that the world is closer through air travel, internet etc etc. 100 years ago those 2 brothers must have felt they were on Mars, so far away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mkhannah View Post
    They say nowadays that the world is closer through air travel, internet etc etc. 100 years ago those 2 brothers must have felt they were on Mars, so far away.
    True, but I think even nowadays, any soldier faced with such a situation would feel very alone.

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