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Sailor Soldier Surgeon
George Barber was a prominent West Australian who played a significant role with the Australian Corps during World War 1.
He had an itinerant and interesting life. As a teenager he worked as a merchant marine sailing on clippers between England and Australia. He went on to study medicine in Middlesex Hospital and after graduating became a P&O ship doctor sailing the England-India-China route. He met his wife Jess on his final voyage, they moved to Kalgoorlie at the commencement of the goldrush. Barber was a pioneering doctor in Kalgoorlie during the 1890s where he endured numerous political and professional controversies and regular outbreaks of typhoid and bubonic plague. He volunteered in the Civilian Militia Force and at outbreak of WW1 examined the fitness of Western Australian recruits. He became Assistant Director Medical Services, 4th Australian Division and Deputy Director Medical Services (DDMS), Australian Corps. He ran a venereal disease hospital in Egypt and served on a number of gruesome hospital ships during the Gallipoli campaign. He was in charge of Stationary Hospitals based in Lemnos (Greece), Tel-el-Kebir, Mena and Serapeum (Egypt). As DDMS he was in charge of medical administration for the Australian troops in France and through Standing Orders enacted a number of significant innovations which reflected the shift towards mobile warfare. He also conducted the autopsy on the Red Baron which proved he was shot by an Australian on the ground. He then went on to become Director General Medical Services in Australia after the war (1925-1934). ISBN 9780859058230