Archie Albert Barwick was an enthusiastic young 24 year old when he joined the First AIF in late August 1914 – his service number was 914. When he learnt that he’d been accepted into the army, he was so happy he turned two somersaults for pure joy. This is his diary, that he kept throughout the war – from Cairo to Gallipoli, from Marseilles through to the terrible winter of 1916 in the Somme, from Ypres to Pozieres. He was wounded three times and sent back to the fighting, before finally travelling back home in December 1918.
This diary is simply a treasure – vivid, alive, compelling. His description of the war is by turns down-to-earth, horrifying, illuminating, funny, touching and terribly sad. Yet his voice and personality shine through. In his diary, Archie describes someone as being ‘merry & bright & never downhearted’ and this could be a description of Archie himself. Readable, spirited and humming with life, In Great Spirits is a unique and incredibly moving tribute to the Australian character and the ANZAC spirit.