William J. “Billy” Barnes
Billy Barnes, also known as Bill, Willie, William, and The Bloody GPO, was born a baby-boomer in 1947. His achievements as a war poet were nurtured in the laterite dust of Nui Dat where he served under John Masters, and Jock Fallon’s fatherly eye, in 1970-71.
Prior to this active service he had been educated at St Augustine’s College Wanganui, the Royal Military College Duntroon, and the Papakura golf course with 161 Battery depots. He served in Vietnam as a Section Commander, as A/GPO, and as GPO until the Battery withdrawal from the theatre in 1971.
After active service, he found Army service a gross anti-climax. After postings as Adjutant 16th Field Regiment, and as a junior staff officer in Defence Headquarters, he resigned from the Army as a Captain in 1976. He worked as a training officer with a major tomato sauce conglomerate for three years and then enlisted for a second Service career with the RNZAF. He served with the air force for 22 years and retired as Group Captain in 2001.
Billy began serious poetic pursuits whilst at RMC Duntroon in an attempt to emulate Bob Dylan and the great Australian balladeers Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, and C.J. Dennis. These efforts were also associated with his attempts to woo a young Australian beauty, whom he eventually wed, and for whom Fire Support Base “Feathers” was named.
He has written over one hundred works in the ballad style on all facets of life and experience. His other interests include: entertaining his grandchildren, landscape painting, bone and wood carving, vegetable gardening, and reciting verses at Gunners Day and St Barbara’s Day dinners.