22223 Private Joseph Barber – Wellington Infantry Regiment

Joseph Barber was born in Paremata on the 8th May 1900 the second son of Helena (Doyle) and John Barber. Joseph had
an older brother John Nicholas (1897) and two younger sisters Catherine ‘Kitty’ (1902) and Helena Barber (1905)[i]

It is probable that John snr was a fisherman at Paremata and the family name was anglicised prior to John and Helena marrying in 1895 as John jnr's military files notes that his father was born in Italy and his mother in Ireland.[ii] In the late 1880’s a large contingent of Italian fishermen had moved out to Paremata from Island Bay.

When Joseph turned five he was enrolled at Plimmerton School, in 1906, with his older brother John. The Barber family moved to Plimmerton and Joseph’s younger sisters Kitty and Helena also being enrolled at the Plimmerton School.[iii]

With the declaration of war in August 1914, thousands of New Zealand men came forward as volunteers to do what was right by “King and Country.” The minimum age of enlistment was 20 and the maximum 38 year old so many eager
potential soldiers “adjusted” their age to suit and ‘when the would be recruit seemed a well grown, healthy fellow, the recruiting officer did not insist on the age limit being reached or winked the other eye when a youth of 18 or 19 – there have been many as low as 17 calmly attesting as being the full twenty.[iv]. . . Any youth who after this, may get into camp will if he is discovered be court martial led at once for supplying false information on his attesting form and be dismissed.’

In 27 November 1915, a Joseph Barber attested for the Mounted Rifles, giving his address as the Plimmerton Post Office,
his date of birth as 5th September 1895 and his employment as a Railway Cadet. In his medical file he is described as Roman Catholic, 5 foot 3 inches, fit, with brown hair and blue eyes, 140 pounds and a chest measurement of 31 inches. It appears that he was not accepted as there is no record of Joseph Barber being taken onto the rolls of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces. This could have been Joseph’s older brother John who had enlisted and been discharges as
‘underage’ or it could have been Joseph but at this stage he would have had to be a very mature 15 year old.

On 5 May 1916, a Joseph Baker attested for the Wellington Infantry Brigade, giving his address as Plimmerton, being employed as a farm hand by Mr Williams of Plimmerton. His enlistment papers give a date of birth as 15 December 1895.
In his medical records he is described as Roman Catholic, 5 foot 4 inches, fit, with brown hair and blue eyes, 140 pounds and a chest measurement of 32 inches. His father John Baker, of Newtown, Wellington is listed as next of kin.[v]

22223 Private Baker, 16th Reinforcements, J Company, Wellington Infantry Regiment departed for overseas service on
20th August 1916. Private Baker arrived in England in October 1916 and spent month training in the Reserve Battalion before being shipped to France on 15th November 1916. Private Baker’s service record shows that he was admitted to hospital in France 17th  November 1916 and the service sheet then indicates the Private Baker was in and out of a number of hospitals with serious complications.

On 19 February 1917 the Wellington Evening Post reported the following:

‘Advice was received on Saturday by Mr J Barber, that his youngest son
Private Joseph Barber of the NZEF is lying seriously ill at the General Hospital,
Etaples, France.’[vi]

Private Baker was returned to New Zealand as medically unfit and discharged on 1 May 1918 from the NZEF ‘for being under age.’ On the 15th May 1918 a statutory declaration was made by Joseph Baker that he was in fact Joseph Barber and all military papers, apart from Nicolas Barber, were then filed under his service record 22223 Private Joseph Baker.

Joseph Barber was born on the 8th May 1900 so he was 3 days short of his 16th birthday when he enlisted.

Joe Barber is listed on the Pauatahanui Roll of Honour but is this him or his older brother John or why is one brother
listed and not the other?

Joseph Barber married Florence Josephine Head in 1922 they were living in Petone as one of his medals was delivered to him there. It is not known how many children the couple had prior to Florence’s death in 1936.

Joseph Barber died in 1983.[vii]

Joseph’s older brother 16369 Driver John Nicholas Barber served on the Egyptian Front during WW1.
Seventy Five Years 1904-1979 Plimmerton School and its Environment
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16369 Trooper John Nicholas Barber
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files:22223 Private Joseph Baker

Plimmerton c1920

[i] NZ BDM
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16369
[iii] Plimmerton School and its Environment – enrolled ex-pupils 1904 - 1929
[iv] Recruitment (2nd November 1914) Marlborough Express
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military records: 22223 Private Joseph Baker aka Joseph Barber
[vi] Local and General (19th February 1917) Evening Post
[vii] NZ BDM
Plimmerton C 1920