The ANZAC Spirit as the Essence of the Soldier in World War I

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World War 1, also known as The Great War, began in 1914 and lasted until 1918. It was a global conflict. Described as ‘the war to end all wars’, it caused over 15 million deaths and left many more permanently and severely disabled. The Australian and New Zealand army corps, or ANZAC, were active from 1914 to 1916. It was comprised of mainly Australian and New Zealand soldiers although, some British and Indian soldiers also enrolled. They fought in Turkey, France, and England, during World War 1. They also participated in the Vietnam War and briefly in World War 2.

Vivian Murray Barber was born the 24 September 1883 and lived in Lochiel, South Australia. By 1894 his family had moved to Sevenhill. He was the eldest son of eleven children of parents William and Emma Barber (nee. Plush). Vivian Murry was educated at Lochiel Public School. It is unknown whether he attended high school, or where he attended. He was recorded to be a labourer before enlisting. This would have made life difficult for Vivian as a labourer was someone who performed temporary, unskilled work, for money. This means he would not have had a steady income or job security. Vivian may have endured financial strain and the steady salary that was paid to all soldiers would have been an effective incentive in joining the army. Living in the country during the early 20th century was also very difficult. Mass migration had already been taking place and in some states almost half of the population was living in the main city. This shows that the country life was a hard one. Since laborers were unskilled in a specific trade, it is likely Vivian did not complete his education in full, making it unlikely he could work at any different, higher-paying job.

Vivian enlisted 13th of January 1916, alongside his brother Walter, who was 26 and had previously been a farmer. He was 32 years old at enrolment and was short, with brown hair and eyes, and a medium complexion (Fig.1). He was not be married and did not have any children. His brother Clarence Barber had also enlisted in 1915, but had died less than a month later from measles that developed into cerebrospinal meningitis. Vivian himself never came home. While in Egypt, he suffered an accidental wound that caused internal bleeding. Doctors were unable to stop it and he died 1st of November 1916. How painful must have that been for his family. His parents and siblings had lost two children in the span of a year while in service. And to increase anxiety, one child was still away fighting. Walter, who had enrolled with Vivian, was still on duty. How must have he felt to hear the news of his brothers’ demise? Walter had lost two brothers to the war, and yet, like many other soldiers, he kept fighting.

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Before his death and as said by his obituary (Shown in Fig.2), Vivian fought various battles. On the 26 of April 1916, Vivian, along with Walter, embarked the HMAT Botanist A59 (Pictured in Fig.3) from Adelaide, as a Private in the 3rd light horse regiment. He was taken on strength a month later. He was stationed at Romani mid-June 1916 as part of the ANZAC Mounted division.

The Battle of Romani Occurred between 3rd and 5th August 1916, and was fought in Romani, Egypt. It removed the Turkish threat to the Suez Canal. Early 4th of August, ANZAC and British soldiers were sited in the dessert, only the 1st light horse brigade was positioned to meet the Turkish attack. The Anzac and British soldiers were heavily outnumbered and began to lose land to the Turkish army however, as the day continued and reinforcements were sent, the position of the ANZAC and British forces was regained around Mt. Royston. The position held until early next day when ANZAC and British soldiers began to advance. The Turkish army collapsed and troops were sent after the retreating soldiers.

Due to the dates of this battle and the fights referenced in Vivian’s obituary, it is very plausible he was present in the Battle of Romani. We can only begin to imagine how terrifying that must have been. It was a stressful situation with many casualties and injuries. Everybody’s life was at risk. It would have been incredibly shocking to witness the action or the aftermath. It took bravery, courage, and valour, and Vivian had all.

On 30th October 1916 Vivian was accidentally thrown from his horse. A party from the 3rd light horse, including Vivian, was returning to camp when, at approximately 4:30 pm the stopped to allow the horses to drink. Vivian’s horse was known to be unruly, ‘a bad one to rear’. The horse reared back and fell onto Vivian pinning him to the ground. A fellow soldier immediately sent for a stretcher. When Vivian was admitted to the 26th Casualty Clearing Station, he had collapsed and had severe pain in the abdomen. A couple of hours later, doctors noticed signs of severe internal bleeding but, after unsuccessfully attempting to stop the bleeding, Vivian Barber died on 1st November 1916 at age 33. He, as his obituary describes, ‘had made the supreme sacrifice for the King and his country’

The ANZAC spirit was developed after the war to describe the attributes and qualities of the ANZAC soldiers. Courage, mateship, valour, perseverance, and bravery all form the ANZAC spirit. The ANZAC spirit is used now to commemorate and remember the great deeds of the soldiers, and to serve as an example to present and future generations. The ANZAC spirit unified the troops and allowed citizens to appreciate and feel their efforts and struggles, as is highlighted by the extract above. Vivian Murry Barber is an example to all those qualities, but in particular, Vivian showed outstanding mateship and bravery. Mateship refers to the act of welcoming and accepting you mates, almost similar to forming a brotherhood of sorts. Vivian, as his obituary describes, was a likable man, respected by those who knew him. 

As a soldier it would have been difficult to isolate oneself from people but from the heartfelt sentiments and feelings that were written at his obituary, it was clear that the death of Vivian was devastating to many people, not just limited to his family. Every soldier was brave. Every person who enrolled was brave, because in doing so, they knew they were risking their lives, they knew they might not come back. It takes incredible bravery to stand there on the frontlines and defend your country. It takes incredible bravery to stand there in the wreckage of the aftermath and still keep going forward. Even with knowing the risks and having felt them through the death of his brother, Vivian stilled enrolled and fought with the ANZAC. His life was touched by grief but he was brave and fought for his country. Vivian and all the other soldiers and nurses who fought or helped in any way deserve to be commemorated for their spirit, their bravery, and their perseverance. 

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