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BARNFATHER, Andrew Ernest Ralph (1891-1916) +

BARNFATHER, Andrew Ernest Ralph (1891-1916)

Born on 6 August 1891, the eighth of nine children of Andrew and Maria (Shields) Barnfather. Ralph Barnfather entered the College as a day student in 1906. His enrolment address was Clarendon St, Chilwell. He was a prominent member of the Barwon Rowing Club, and Sergeant Major in the 29th Light Horse, Geelong, prior to his enlistment in the AIF during World War I.

'Ralph' Barnfarther (GC War Service)

'Ralph' Barnfarther (GC War Service)

He rowed in the winning crew in the AIF Inter-Regimental Eights in Melbourne, and again in Egypt, along with Murray Storrer, Geoff Mitchell and Bill Dunlop. He left Australia with the First Australian Division on HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 18 October 1914, as Sergeant Major of A Squadron, 4th Light Horse, and served through Gallipoli, obtaining his commission on his return to Egypt. He then applied for a transfer to 58 Battalion, which he received on 26 March, rather than remaining in Egypt with the Light Horse, and went to France with that unit on 17 June on HMT Transylvania. He was reported missing on 19 July 1916 at Fleurbaix, one of the first engagements involving Australian troops in France, and was later confirmed to have been killed on that day, as Lance Cpl LA Mills reported to the Red Cross Information Bureau: 'Informant states that on July 20/16 (sic) at Fleurbaix, south of Armentieres 2/Lt Barnfather he believes was killed in action. Lt Barnfather went out as one of the leaders in an attack on German trenches. They got into the trenches, but he is sure no English prisoners were taken'.
At the time of his death he had been promoted to 2nd lieutenant.

Barnfather’s brother-in-law, Driver Hector Alfred Sadler, the son of Henry and Euphemia Sadler, of Geelong, and husband of Isabelle Claire Barnfather, was killed shortly after him, on 30 July 1916, while serving with 106 Howitzer Battery, and was buried at Gordon Dump Cemetery, Oviller-la-Boiselle, France. Barnfather’s nephew, Flying Officer, Eliot Ralph Barnfather, the son of Thomas Stanley and Ruby Alice Barnfather, of Buckland Avenue, Geelong, and an Old Geelong Collegian, served with 218 (Stirling) Squadron, Bomber Command, RAF, and was killed in action on 18 May 1942 over Denmark during the Second World War, and is buried in Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery, Denmark. The three youngest children of Andrew and Maria Barnfather all suffered heavily in the two wars, with the loss of Ralph Barnfather, as well as Hector Alfred Sadler, and Eliot Ralph Barnfather, the son of Thomas Stanley and Ruby Alice (Beatty) Barnfather.

His brothers, Charles John Barnfather (1872-1906) and Thomas Stanley Barnfather (1888-1955) also attended Geelong College.

Sources: Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp7-11 (Citing Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Australian War Memorial; W H Downing, To The Last Ridge; Photo The Pegasus May 1917.)
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