John Hampden Barton served in France in the first world war; this is Jack’s War Diary.
Jack’s diary is lodged with the Australian War Memorial under Private Record 261 (AWM PR00261). They describe the work as “Transcript of diary written up in 1962 from original diaries, covering active service at Ypres, Messines area, Hill 104 at Villers-Bretonneux, Hamel, Peronne and the breaking of the Hindenburg Line. An insightful account of an intelligent and thoughtful Platoon Commander. The account discusses 54 Battalion ‘strike’ in September 1918 and also includes photographs and biographical notes.”
One Year with the Platoon
J. H. Barton
This is a note of consolation to my family.
I am very proud of you all and no greater happiness can come to me than that you will all persevere in the straight course of life with truth and fortitude.
Warnings or beliefs came to me when 1 was fairly young that all my unhappiness originated in my own selfishness and these thoughts pulled in the same direction as words oft repeated by the Reverend Ball, who preached and played cricket at All Saints College when I was there, “that we suffer for our sins in this world”.
I am now past the summit of acturity in life – will be 75 years old next April. I may go on living for a few years yet and I may keel over at any time in the near future. I do not worry either way; rather do I find the thought of death interesting, in that, we all have to find out for ourselves what lies beyond.
I don’t think I have been a great materialist rather would I confess to idealism and I have weighed heavily at times on a belief that dreams are not all empty messages.
In my diary that I commerce here to write certain references will be made to dreams.
The diary referred to Is part of a diary only referring to the last stages of the 1914-18 war, and it is from that that period that my philosophy of life has been largely founded. No man or woman can become great as a leader without some leanings towards love and judging by my knowledge of human nature love can never become a universal product but individuals in all matters of philosophy are produced throughout the ages and it does appear that such love is produced in each generation by fatigue, disasters and wars.
I think I have not led a very bad life and my diary will show that I can thank God for any success that may have come to me in life and I have faced the greatest obstacles with a trust in God mainly because I was beaten of myself.
The diary I proceed now to write up will convey some views of war procedures and it is difficult for writers of History to get a fair picture unless wraps of reference come from the rank file and the junior leaders.
My memory of past events seems much clearer than that of recent date. Much of what I write will only keep contact between the days and will be of little interest to anyone excepting for that reason and the whole taken together if it has any value it will be that it is all simple truth.
22nd November 1962