Henry Alfred Yorke Barnacle

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, England, United Kingdom

General information

Farm Manager

Army information

New Zealand
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Wairoa, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
 —  New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 1st Bn.

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Reutel, Beselare, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Polygon Wood Cemetery
Plot: -
Row: F
Grave: 8

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death or original burial place

My story

Rifleman Henry Alfred Yorke Barnacle
Henry Barnacle was born on 29 December 1889 at Holmes Chapel, a village in Cheshire, England. His parents were Henry, a vicar in Holmes Chapel, and Kathleen Barnacle. The 1891 Census shows five children, of whom Henry junior was the youngest at that date.
Henry moved to New Zealand about 1907. He shows on electoral rolls in 1911 in the Bay of Plenty, described as a shepherd, and in 1914 in Gisborne, as a drover. By the time he enlisted on 17 March 1917 he was a farm manager near Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay. His parents were now in Albany, West Australia.
Henry was originally in the 28th Reinforcement, in a New Zealand Rifle Brigade company. On 25 April 1917 he transferred to the 27th Reinforcement., training at Featherston and Trentham camps before embarking on the troopship Athenic on 16 July 1917, arriving at Plymouth two months later. The New Zealand Rifle Brigade men went to Tidworth Camp, a few kms east of Sling Camp. Henry left for France on 23 October 1917 and spent one week at Etaples before being posted to 1st Battalion, 3rd (NZRB) Brigade on 2 November 1917, after the battles of Broodseinde and First Passchendaele.
The New Zealand Division was in the Polygon Wood sector after the end of the Third Battle of Ypres. Much of the time was spent in wiring, repairing crumbling trenches and improving defences. The landscape was covered with waterlogged shellholes.
On 1 December 1917 the NZ Rifle Brigade relieved the 4th Brigade in the Becelaere Sector near Polygon Wood. On 3 December 1917 part of the New Zealand Division unsuccessfully attacked Polderhoek Chateau. On 9/10 December the Rifle Brigade was replaced by the 2nd Brigade; It was just before this change that Henry Barnacle received serious wounds which killed him.
Neither the New Zealand Division history or that of the NZ Rifle Brigade give detailed information for the November 1917-February 1918 period so it is impossible to say with any certainty how Henry died on 7 December 1917.
The opposing German forces generally held higher ground and movement in the New Zealand lines was often observed and shelled or machine-gunned.
He is buried in Polygon Wood Cemetery with several other soldiers of the Rifle Brigade also killed on 7 December. He is in Plot-, Row F, Grave 8.

Sources 5

"The official history of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (The Earl of Liverpool's Own)", Austin, WL., Wellington, L.T. Watkins, 1924, pg. 255-258.
Sources used
Archives New Zealand
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Cenotaph Auckland
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NZEF Project
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