The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3273A) Company Quarter Master Sergeant Frederick George Pitty Barbour, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.261
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 18 September 2019
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (3273A) Company Quarter Master Sergeant Frederick George Pitty Barbour, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3273A Company Quarter Master Sergeant Frederick George Pitty Barbour, 9th Battalion, AIF
DOW 25 February 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Company Quarter Master Sergeant Frederick George Pitty Barbour.

Frederick Barbour was born on 23 March 1895 in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield, the third of five children of George and Isabelle Barbour.

He grew up around Summer Hill and attended school locally. His father, George, was a renowned sports master and teacher at Sydney Grammar School as well as being a well-known cricketer, playing for Burwood Cricket Club. George Barbour was a member of the Australian Cricket Board of Control from 1907 to 1909 and was president from 1908 to 1909.

Fred’s older brother Eric was also an excellent cricketer, playing for Sydney Grammar School and for New South Wales. He was selected to play for Australia for the 1914–15 tour of South Africa, which failed to take place because of the First World War.

At the beginning of 1910 George was appointed as headmaster of Toowoomba Grammar School. The family moved to Queensland, where they were housed on the school grounds.

Fred was an excellent student. In 1911 he passed the Sydney University Junior Examination with distinction. He was the school prefect in 1913 and 1914 and was dux of the school in both years. On the results of his Senior Examination he was offered a scholarship to study arts at the University of Brisbane.

Fred played cricket for Toowoomba Grammar’s First 11 cricket team, and rose to be team captain. He was a member of the First 15 Rugby team and the tennis team as well. In 1914 he won the Robertson Prize for best all round athlete. He was also a member of the school’s cadet corps and rose to the rank of lieutenant.

He moved to Brisbane at the beginning of 1915 and boarded at Emmanuel College. In between his studies, he also served in the 7th Infantry Regiment of the Citizens’ Military Force.

With the First World War raging in Europe and the Middle East, Fred Barbour was keen to enlist and do his bit. He returned to Toowoomba where he enlisted for service in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 August 1915.

After his initial training, he was allotted to the 7th Reinforcements to the 25th Battalion. He embarked from Brisbane on the 30th of December aboard the transport ship Itonus.

Fred Barbour arrived in Egypt in February 1916, during the expansion of the AIF from two divisions to five. As a result, he found himself transferred to the 9th Battalion. A letter he wrote home during that period appeared in his old school magazine in May1916 in which he stated:

The whole system has been reorganised, and I am now attached to the famous 9th Battalion. It was a great piece of luck to get into a Battalion with such a reputation … We are all expecting a big move somewhere.

The 9th Battalion sailed for France in late March 1916 and after a brief stint in the trenches near Armentieres, the battalion was sent south to the Somme where it took part in the battle of Pozieres on 23 July. The battalion next took part in the fighting around Mouquet Farm and by the end of August, it had been relieved and sent to the quieter Ypres sector.

Due to the heavy casualties suffered by the battalion, Barbour was promoted to acting corporal in August. In Belgium he was confirmed in the rank of corporal and promoted to quarter master sergeant of A Company.

The 9th Battalion returned to the Somme in October and in November took over front line positions near Flers. The men endured the bitter winter of 1916 and 1917 moving between the front line, supports and rear areas.

In late February the Germans began a strategic withdrawal to their prepared defensive fortifications known as the Hindenburg Line. On 25 February, the 9th Battalion was in pursuit of the Germans near Gueudecourt.

At around 9.30 pm Barbour and the other company quarter master sergeants were organising rations and ration parties to move up to the front line to supply their comrades, when a German high-explosive shell landed amongst the party.

The resulting explosion killed 11 men outright and badly wounded 16 others, including Fred Barbour, who had been hit by shrapnel in the face and in the stomach. Barbour’s wounds were mortal and he died while being evacuated to a nearby field ambulance unit.

He was 21 years old.

Fred Barbour was initially buried near where he fell, but his remains were later re-interred in the AIF Burial Ground Cemetery along with several other men and his exact grave was unable to be identified. A memorial headstone was later erected in the cemetery for him, which reads “believed to be buried in this cemetery, actual grave unknown”. At the bottom of Fred Barbour’s headstone is the epitaph, “Fidelis in Omnibus”, the motto of Toowoomba Grammar School which means “Faithful in all things”.

Fred Barbour’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Company Quarter Master Sergeant Frederick George Pitty Barbour, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3273A) Company Quarter Master Sergeant Frederick George Pitty Barbour, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)