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Remembering World War II
Name: Sydney Leonard Barwick Rank: Lance Corporal Service Number: 3530919 Service: 44th Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, British Army Date of Birth: On or about April 20, 1939 Place of Birth: Bodmin, Cornwall, England Date of Enlistment: 1939 Age at Enlistment: 28 Place of Enlistment: Halifax, NS Address at Enlistment: Halifax, NS Trade: Farming Marital Status: Single Date of Death: April 14, 1943 Age: 33 Cemetery: Florence War Cemetery, Italy Grave: Section I. Row E. Grave 2 Headstone inscription: “Sunshine passes, shadows fall, loving memories outlast all. Mum and Dad.” Sydney ‘Syd’ Leonard Barwick was the son of Captain Frederick Joseph Barwick and Mary Grace (Barnecott) Barwick (b. 1882). His father was born April 10, 1882 in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), his mother was born in Liskeard in Cornwall, England the same year. They were married in Liskeard in 1904. Sydney had two brothers, George (b. 1902) and Frederick (b. 1908), and one sister Winnifred Anne Grace Barwick (1906- 1980). The youngest of the four, Sydney and the family came to Canada sometime between 1911 and 1912 when his father Frederick Joseph transferred from the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry to the Royal Canadian Regiment. The 1911 census in Cornwall shows Mrs. Barwick and the children residing there, but Frederick isn’t listed indicated he may have already transferred to Canada. The 1916 Canada Census in Saskatchewan indicates the family had been there since 1912; they were living 1916 they were living at 1320 Coy Ave in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Raised in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Sydney moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia (date unknown) where, somehow or another, he learned that men were being recruited for the British Army (Colonel R.B. Willis who was doing much of the recruiting in Halifax had served with the Royal Canadian Regiment, as had Sydney’s father). Sydney departed Halifax aboard the Cunard White Star Line’s Andania and enlisted with the Manchester Regiment of the British Army in April 1939. He arrived in Liverpool England April 17, 1939 and enlisted the same month. While at the Recruit Depot at Ladysmith Barracks in Ashton, Sydney was middleweight boxing champ and finished 2nd in the best shot competition (behind Winston Ploeg). Sydney served with the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in France and after the Dunkirk evacuations, he transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps. Serving with the 44th Royal Tank Regiment of the Royal Armored Corps, Sydney moved to the Middle East in April of 1941 with his unit. The 44th RTR was attached to the 150th Infantry Brigade in the 150th Brigade Box in Libya, North Africa, in May and June of 1942. The brigade boxes were all-arms fortified positions with dug-in infantry, artillery and armor. They were defense in depth, with tangles of barbed wire and mutually supporting fields of fire, and the entire 150th Brigade box was cocooned by belts of lethal minefields. Mines also protected paths between boxes, supported by regular patrols to cover the gaps. The fighting in which Sydney Barwick took part was during the Battle of Gazala, between April 26 and June 21, 1942. The 150th Brigade Box was part a defensive network known as the Gazala line with positions that ran South from Gazala on the coast and protecting the West and South West flanks of the British 8th Army in Tobruk. In late May and June, Rommel was pushing against that line toward his goal of taking Tobruk. Brigade Box 150 at Sidi Muftah would have to be taken to guarantee a supply line in order to advance. The 150th Brigade Box and 44th Tank Regiment were attacked, encircled, and on June 1 the British were forced to surrender. The Germans captured 3000 prisoners including Lance Corporal Sydney Leonard Barwick. According to the enemy, 101 tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed or captured, as well as 124 pieces of artillery. The Allies made the enemy pay a heavy price in the Battle of Gazala, the subsequent Battle of Bir Hakeim, and the defense of Tobruk. These defensive efforts forced the German cancellation of Operation Herkules (the plan to invade Malta). Then a POW, Sydney was transferred to P.G. 202 (P.G. for Prigione di Guerra = Prisoner of War) known as the Lucca hospital camp. The ‘campo’ was set up inside the old hospital San Luca della Misericordia on via Galli Tassi (Galli Tassi Street). He died while there on April 14, 1943. Sydney Leonard Barwick’s brother Sergeant Fred Barwick served with the Canadian Army overseas in WWII and his brother-in-law Reginald Thomas served with the Winnipeg Grenadiers.
Sydney Leonard Barwick
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Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission David Gilhen, The Halifax 100 – Manchester Regiment WW2 Facebook page