Westgarthtown & WWI





George Gottfried Henry Bartsh



George Gottfried Henry Bartsh (1894-1964) was born at Beechworth, the son of John Henry and Charlotte Alice (née Hargreaves) Bartsh. His father, a miner, was born in 1858 at Spring Creek and married Alice in 1879. They had five children, the fourth being George Gottfried Henry Bartsh.

George was a great grandson of Georg and Dorothea Nebel who arrived in Australia on the Acmel in January 1855. Three children travelled with them – Georg Jr. and his wife Friedericke; Gottfried and his wife Sophie; and Dorothea and her husband Heinrich Bartsch - along with five grandchildren. The Nebel family came from Hohenseeden in Sachsen-Anhalt.

Georg Nebel Jr, his wife, children and parents had moved to Westgarthtown by 1856 and in 1858 he purchased Kurtzmann’s farm, which his descendants continued to farm until 1960.  Gottfried Nebel, a soap maker, settled at Richmond and Heinrich and Dorothea Bartsh at Beechworth in north-eastern Victoria in 1857.

Heinrich Bartsh, a blacksmith, was born at Freiennald in Prussia. He died in 1866 leaving Dorothea with four young children. In 1867, she married Christian Voigt, a gardener at the Black Springs where they both lived. A further child, William Voigt, was born in 1868. Dorothea died in 1910 and Christian Voigt in 1911.

George Bartsh was a driver living at Geelong when he enlisted there on 3 March 1916. He gave his age as 21 and religion as Roman Catholic. He had married Susan Margaret O’Reilly in 1914 and they had a son Gerald born in 1915. He was posted to the 14th Depot Battalion at Ballarat from 25-31 March 1916, then transferred to Broadmeadows and assigned to the 2nd Reinforcements, 60th Battalion, Private, No. 1617, 15th Infantry Brigade.

On 4 May he embarked aboard the Port Lincoln for Egypt and arrived at Suez on 10 June 1916. After further training, he left Alexandria on 2 August for Marseilles, where he arrived on 8 August. He was taken on strength of the 15th Training Battalion the same day and continued to England, where he arrived on 21 August 1916.

On 11 November George proceeded to France and joined the 58th Battalion, 15th Infantry Brigade on 30 November 1916. This battalion had lost almost a third of its men at Fromelles in July 1916. George was admitted to hospital at Etaples on 29 December, following an accidental injury on the parade ground. On 16 January 1917 he was evacuated to the Middlesex County Hospital in England with inflammation of the connective tissues in his left hand. On 1 March, he was transferred to the 2nd Auxiliary Hospital at Southall, after which he was granted furlough from 6-21 March, then spent time at depots at Weymouth and Hurdcott.

George was transferred to the 66th Battalion on 28 April, where owing to a duplication of his service number, he became Private, No. 1617A on 26 June 1917. He proceeded to France on 12 September and rejoined the 58th Battalion in Belgium on 2 October, shortly after it had fought at Polygon Wood.

On 30 October 1917, he was wounded in action near Ypres, receiving severe mustard gas burns. After hospitalization there, he was evacuated to the 1st Western General Hospital at Birkenhead, England on 11 November. On 11 February 1918, he was transferred to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, then granted furlough from 13-27 February. He did not return until 7 March, however, and forfeited nine days’ pay. He was then posted to No. 4 Command Depot, Hurdcott.

He returned to duty on 27 April but on 15 May 1918 was admitted to the Central Military Hospital, Belfast with synovitis of the left knee. He remained there until 2 October when he was transferred to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield. On 2 November, he was sent to No. 2 Command Depot, Weymouth then embarked aboard the Nestor on 12 December 1918 and arrived back in Melbourne on 1 February 1919. He was discharged from the AIF on 22 March 1920.

George’s father had died at Geelong in 1917 while he was overseas. A second son was born in 1920 but George and his wife seem to have separated soon after. She moved to Melbourne, but his whereabouts are unknown, until his death in Western Australia on 15 August 1964. He had apparently managed a hotel at Geraldton under the name John Barclay. He was cremated at Karrakatta. George’s name appears on the Shire of Beechworth’s Honour Roll.

George’s mother Alice died at Geelong in 1941. His wife Susan later returned to Geelong and died there in 1972. Their youngest son John Stephen Bartsh served with the AIF during World War 2 and the eldest son Gerald Henry Bartsh with the Civil Construction Corps in 1943-44.