April 25, 1915: A lifeboat carrying unidentified men of the 1st Divisional Signal Company as they are towed towards Anzac Cove at 6am on the day of the landing at Gallipoli. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial
April 25, 1915: A lifeboat carrying unidentified men of the 1st Divisional Signal Company as they are towed towards Anzac Cove at 6am on the day of the landing at Gallipoli. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

Search for image of Ulmarra man killed at Gallipoli

ALMOST a century after an Ulmarra man became the first town clerk to enlist in the Australian army, the hunt is on for his picture.

Arthur Barnes was 26 when he enlisted in the army on August 28, 1914, joining the 1st Battalion AIF. He was one of the first Australians ashore on April 25 1915, and four days later he was posted as missing in action and later as killed in action on that day.

Local historian Steve Tranter is on the trail of a portrait of Mr Barnes the council is believed to have commissioned in 1916, possibly as a memorial to him.

"I got a call from a lady called Sandra McKessar from a website www.spirit_of _gallipoli.com asking if I knew of the portrait, which was either a photo or a painting," Mr Tranter said.

Since getting the call Mr Tranter has drawn a blank in his search, with neither Clarence Valley Council records nor the Clarence River Historical Society possessing the artefact.

Mr Tranter said the story of Mr Barnes reveals a lot about the times he lived in.

"There was a lot of honour in the First World War," he said.

"When the war started and the recruitment drive came to town, people just dropped what they were doing and enlisted.

"That's what must have happened with Arthur. As a town clerk, he could easily have been a commissioned officer, but he just enlisted as a private."

Various websites have records from Mr Barnes, including letters home from Egypt, where the AIF trained in the lead-up to the Gallipoli landing and references to him in letters from other Ulmarrites.

Mr Tranter said there was also some mystery about his death.

"There were reports of sightings of him afterwards in France in the later years of the war," Mr Tranter said.

"It seems he had a brother who served there and, because of the slow and pretty unreliable communications of the time, it appears some people thought it was Arthur.

"His father, Walter, mentions this when he was looking for records of his son after the war."

He said Mr Barnes occupied a unique place in Australian military history as the first town clerk to enlist.

"As far as we can tell there were only two," he said.

Mr Tranter said it was frustrating the picture had not been kept, but was hardly surprising considering the way the council chambers moved about in its early years.

"I just hope the story jogs someone's memory," he said.



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