Phillip Gregory BARWICK

BARWICK, Phillip Gregory

Service Number: 2793807
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment
Born: Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia, 11 March 1949
Home Town: Gunnedah, Gunnedah, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: War Service related , Gunnedah NSW Australia, 4 November 1988, aged 39 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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Vietnam War Service

1 Oct 1970: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, 2793807, A Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment
17 Dec 1970: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Private, 2793807, C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment

Help us honour Phillip Gregory Barwick's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Tony Cox

Trooper Phillip G Barwick WIA 

Wounded:  25th June 1971  Operation Hermit Park in the north east of Phuoc Tuy Province

Died 4th November 1988

Researching for the upcoming June 2021 3 RAR reunion in Canberra I needed to locate the NOK for the fallen.  In doing that research I was honoured to come across the story of Phillip Gregory Barwick, formally of Gunnedah.  I wish to share it.  Please share it on if you feel sufficient empathy to do so.

I am always interested in knowing as much as possible about our fallen.  Knowing a little about their life allows us to understand and know the individual, and that allows us to remember them with empathy.

Trooper Phillip G Barwick was not a 3rd Battalion RAR member in 1971.  He was RAAC - Armoured.  Phillip Barwick and served in Vietnam in 1971 when he was severely wounded.  He died with dignity, courage and honour from the complications of those wounds 17 years later.

We remember our fallen on various Facebook sites but we don't recall as often as we should the wounded who had to live with their wounds and the burden that imposed upon them.  Phillip’s name is not remembered in the Hall of Remembrance of the Australian War Memorial nor is he eligible for a Last Post Ceremony because he was not killed in action.

I submit these article for your information in remembrance of Phillip Gregory Barwick.

Article one begins........

Trooper Phillip G Barwick

Namoi Valley Independent Newspaper

Date: 13th January 2017

Gunnedah Water Tower Museum opens new display on Vietnam veteran Phillip Barwick and Kelvin Vietnam War veteran's medals donated to Gunnedah and District Historical Society Namoi Valley Independent Newspaper Gunnedah April 2019 Journalist: Vanessa Hohnke

Phillip Gregory Barwick

The persistence of a friend of the late Phillip (Phil) Barwick has seen three new medals posthumously awarded to the Vietnam War veteran.

It has been a two-year process to ensure the medals for National Service, Australian Defence Force and Australian Active Service were restored to the Kelvin man who died of war related illness on November 4, 1988.

The three medals, and two others - a Vietnam campaign medal and a Vietnam medal - are now housed in the Gunnedah Water Tower Museum following a presentation at the Vietnam veterans' murals launch on Anzac Day.

Phil's nephew Andrew said it was a "great honour and privilege" to pass on his late uncle's medals to the Gunnedah and District Historical Society in memory of "this beautiful man and what he did in Vietnam and afterwards".

The son of Harry and Ruby Barwick, of Carellan, Kelvin, Phil was called up for national service in 1969 and was sent to Vietnam on the last day of September 1970.

He was medically discharged on July 12, 1971 and returned to Australia with shocking injuries, including the loss of both eyes, from a rocket-propelled grenade impacting the crew commander's .30 machine gun on the army tank.

It was the commitment of fellow veteran Bill Burton, which saw the medals restored after he read an article about Phil's inclusion in the museum's new Vietnam War display in early 2017.

Bill said he was reading the article written by retired NVI journalist Marie Hobson when he noticed there were just two medals in a photo of Phil's display.  "I thought, 'He's only got two medals. That's a travesty. We'll have to do something about it'," Bill said.

He phoned up their former troop leader, Bruce Cameron, and shared what he had discovered. From there, Bill went on to contact the Australian Army's Defence Honours and Awards Directorate and found he did not have the authority to acquire the awards.

Bill contacted the Barwick family about his mission and Warren, one of Phil's brothers, signed over authority so he could see the medals were bestowed on his late friend.

Phil and Bill first met at the cricket practise nets at Puckapunyal in Victoria, and they later served together in different tank troops in the same squadron in 1970-1971.

Bill said he was captain of his unit cricket team at the time and tried to persuade Phil to join the team but Phillip refused, saying he had enough people telling him what to do during the week and didn't want to be under orders on a Saturday.

"He wanted to be a free spirit in as far as you could be a free spirit in Seymour," Bill said.

Much to Bill's disappointment, Phil joined the local Seymour team instead and went on to defeat the army Puckapunyal team in the grand final.

Phil later became a student of Bill's in a tank gunnery course and performed to a very high standard. He also received the Outstanding Soldier Award out of 1900 trainees at the end of his recruit training course.

"He did that with a glint in his eye and a rod up his back," Bill said.  "That was the thought in his mind - if a job's got to be done, it should be done well.  "He was very good at everything he did."

Bill said these qualities "endeared" Phil to those around him and he was "held in great esteem" on and off the sports field. Bill counted him as a "personal friend. 

On Anzac Day, Bill pinned Phil's now completed ribbon bar on his uniform, which is on display at the museum.  Despite his success in acquiring the rest of Phil's medals, Bill says more still needs to be done.

Due to the long period between when Phil was wounded and when he died, his name like so many after all wars was not included on the Australian National Roll of Honour.


Phillip G Barwick (Article Two)

The late Phillip Gregory Barwick was a conscript who became one of the many long-term casualties of the Vietnam War.

Phil was allocated to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps, and was eventually posted to the First Armoured Regiment, the senior fighting regiment in the Army. He often jokingly remarked that he'd 'rather ride than walk'.

Phil was sent to Vietnam on the last day of September 1970. On June 25, 1971, Phil's tank troop was called on to help the infantry attack a heavily defended Viet Cong bunker system in the north west of Phouc Tuy Province. Knowing that the enemy had already been alerted, the tanks advanced in a line, breaking down the jungle, with Phil's tank on the left flank. Slowed by a huge clump of bamboo, his tank commander, Corporal Anderson, took the initiative to break it down forcing the enemy to reveal their position.

At 4.15pm on that fateful day, two rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) were fired at the leading tanks by the enemy - one flew high but the other hit the commander's machine gun, causing deadly shrapnel to inflict massive wounds to the upper bodies of the two men, who were in the turret.

As the other tanks rushed past to engage the enemy, one tank came beside to protect the wounded men and three New Zealand soldiers braved enemy fire to rescue them from the turret. Both men were taken to the rear by armoured personnel carrier, to a landing zone, where a waiting helicopter medical evacuated them to life-saving medical care at the 24th US Field Hospital, at Long Binh, in Bien Hoa province.

Phil was transferred back to Australia with shocking injuries, including the loss of both eyes. His devastated parents saw him through 18 months of pain and rehabilitation at Concord Hospital before he recovered enough to be trained in the use of a switchboard.

Once a talented sportsman, he returned to his former place of employment, at Peel Valley County Council, Tamworth, with his guide dog Donna. He also learned Braille and was soon in demand as a speaker for the Guide Dogs Association.

In 1983, Phil received a life-saving kidney transplant from his sister Helen, but the long-term effects of his war injuries took a toll on his body and he died from kidney failure on November 4, 1988, leaving a wife Kath and a son Rohan.

The Barwick family erected a memorial on the hill above their home at "Carellan" where the once carefree child roamed as a boy.

When the new Kelvin community hall opened in May 2005, third-generation Kelvin resident and eldest brother, John Barwick, presented a plaque on behalf of the Barwick family in memory of Private Phillip Gregory Barwick, a casualty of the "not-talked-about war". 

GUNNEDAH men who are listed as Vietnam War veterans on the Honour Board in the Soldier’s Vestibule at Gunnedah Town Hall include:

IT (Ian Barbato), Phillip G. Barwick, RR Beasley, T. Carlyon, DR Chadfield (I have felt this name should be Chatfield, you can either check my files for stories or look on the honour board at the Town Hall, I think a couple have been missed off the list in The Way We Were, but they will be on the honour board). Colin J. Clarke, AJ Court, GJ Davidson, B. Downes, LJ Downes, R. Dryden, CR Everett, Ian T. Finlay, RB Foster, DJ Foster, TJ Griffen, PB Hall, Michael W. Howard, IR Hosie, WJ Hyland, KG Jackson, A (Tony) Kingdom, WT Lamb, J. Lilllis, J. Paton, J. Molenkamp, DJ Saunders, GK Seaton, HC Spradbrow, BJ (Brian) Warren, LN Thurston, SC Smith, BH Stokes, B. Philpot.

The Gunnedah and District Historical Society is keen to expand its Vietnam War display and is seeking photographs of all local veterans. Anyone who can assist is asked to email a high-resolution image in a large file to Marie Hobson at [email protected] or deliver to the Water Tower Museum during opening hours on Saturday from 10am-2pm or Monday mornings.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post

Posted to the Virtual Wall by:Tony Cox 

Articles researched from the Namo i Valley Independent Newspaper article by Vanessa Hohnke Gunnedah 

Pls Contact Gunnedah Water Tower Museum for more information or contributions.

0427 422 118