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Major William George Barker

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Major W. G. Barker


Major William G. Barker distinguished himself as an observer and pilot on the Western Front, twice winning the MC. In Italy he added many more victories to his record and had the distinction of commanding a squadron of two-seater fighters.

Following his numerous decorations, Barker was transferred to England in the fall of 1918, to become an instructor. He requested to be attached temporarily to a fighter squadron on the Western Front to gain experience in the latest developments of air combat. On his last day of duty Maj Barker fought a combat mission which has become legendary in the history of air warfare. High above the lines he attacked and shot down one enemy machine, but was himself set upon by other formations of Fokkers, numbering in all about 60. Repeatedly wounded in the arms and legs, Barker fought them off and destroyed several of his opponents before crash landing in Allied lines. He remained unconscious for several days in No. 8 General Hospital in Rouen. On November 20, 1918 he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic combat against such heavy odds.

For more information on Major Barker, visit the Canadian Air Aces home page.


The Victoria Cross

"On the morning of the 27 October 1918, this officer observed an enemy two-seater over the Foret de Mormal. He attacked this machine and after a short burst it broke up in the air. At the same time a Fokker biplane attacked him, and he was wounded in the right thigh, but managed, despite this, to shoot down the enemy aeroplane in flames. He then found himself in the middle of a large formation of Fokkers who attacked him from all directions, and was again severely wounded in the left thigh, but succeeded in driving down two of the enemy in a spin. He lost consciousness after that, and his machine fell out of control. On recovery, he found himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation, and singling out one machine he deliberately charged and drove it down in flames. During this fight his left elbow was shattered and he again fainted, and on regaining consciousness he found himself still being attacked, but notwithstanding that he was now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered, he dived on the nearest machine and shot it down in flames. Being greatly exhausted, he dived out of the fight to regain our lines, but was met by another formation, which attacked and endeavored to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeded in breaking up this formation and reached our lines, where he crashed on landing. This combat, in which Major Barker destroyed four enemy machines (three of them in flames), brought his total successes to fifty enemy machines destroyed, and is a notable example of the exceptional bravery and disregard of danger which this very gallant officer has always displayed throughout his distinguished career."

VC citation, London Gazette, 30 November 1918

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