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#4377952 - 09/05/17 04:10 PM William George Barker VC  
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Robert_Wiggins Offline
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Forgive me for stealing a little thunder here but having viewed the excellent post on Georges Guynemer, I thought of one other pilot worthy of note and so often not recognized



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#4377970 - 09/05/17 05:51 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Shredward Offline
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A boyhood pal of my Grandfather. They went to sign up together, and my Grandfather was rejected for a spot on the lung ( it being early war, and their being choosy at that point.) Just as well, or I likely wouildn't be here. He got in later, trained as a pilot, but by then, the war was over. So here I am.
Cheers,
shredward


We will remember them.
#4377978 - 09/05/17 06:41 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Raine Offline
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Wow, that's an incredible story, Shredward. But that spot on the lung sure made sure we had a wonderful contributor to WOFF World. It's funny about how Barker is so little remembered today. I remember learning about Barker as a boy, but then his story sort of vanished. I've just read "Barker VC" by Wayne Ralph. It's a good one.

While I'm at it, I ran across an old copy of "Years of Combat", Sholto Douglas's wartime memoir. It's one of the best WW1 aviation reads I've had in a long while.

#4377994 - 09/05/17 09:14 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Shredward]  
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Robert_Wiggins Offline
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Originally Posted by Shredward
A boyhood pal of my Grandfather. They went to sign up together, and my Grandfather was rejected for a spot on the lung ( it being early war, and their being choosy at that point.) Just as well, or I likely wouildn't be here. He got in later, trained as a pilot, but by then, the war was over. So here I am.
Cheers,
shredward


Shredder, that is an amazing piece of info!! I bet your Grandfather could have related some interesting inside information on Barker.


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#4377995 - 09/05/17 09:17 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Raine]  
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Originally Posted by Raine
Wow, that's an incredible story, Shredward. But that spot on the lung sure made sure we had a wonderful contributor to WOFF World. It's funny about how Barker is so little remembered today. I remember learning about Barker as a boy, but then his story sort of vanished. I've just read "Barker VC" by Wayne Ralph. It's a good one.

While I'm at it, I ran across an old copy of "Years of Combat", Sholto Douglas's wartime memoir. It's one of the best WW1 aviation reads I've had in a long while.


I must check that book out Raine!


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#4377996 - 09/05/17 09:20 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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MFair Offline
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Thank you for posting Robert. All braves souls that lot. Shredward, here is to a spot on the lung!


Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from either end.
BOC Member since....I can't remember!
#4378169 - 09/06/17 08:16 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Robert_Wiggins Offline
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Originally Posted by Robert_Wiggins
Originally Posted by Raine
Wow, that's an incredible story, Shredward. But that spot on the lung sure made sure we had a wonderful contributor to WOFF World. It's funny about how Barker is so little remembered today. I remember learning about Barker as a boy, but then his story sort of vanished. I've just read "Barker VC" by Wayne Ralph. It's a good one.

While I'm at it, I ran across an old copy of "Years of Combat", Sholto Douglas's wartime memoir. It's one of the best WW1 aviation reads I've had in a long while.


I must check that book out Raine!



Raine; There are some interesting opinions and notes on that book and the author at this web site:
link to The Aerodrome


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#4378306 - 09/07/17 12:36 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Billy Barker, one of my personal favorites of the WWI aces, truly a great fellow from all accounts. Thanks for the video link Robert. And with Raine's posting it looks like I've another book to add to my reading list as well. As to the books of Sholto Douglas, his first was a top-notch read, his second not so much.

.


[Linked Image]

Three RFC Brass Hats were strolling down a street in London. Two walked into a bar, the third one ducked.
_________________________________________________________________________

Former Cold War Warrior, USAF Security Service 1974-1978, E-4, Morse Systems Intercept, England, Europe, and points above.
"pippy-pahpah-pippy pah-pip-pah"

#4381055 - 09/24/17 04:08 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Thanks for posting this. It is always great to get a little more insight into these heros of the past. Especially if they are Canadian, but that may be my bias coming through.

#4381068 - 09/24/17 05:46 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Dark_Canuck]  
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Robert_Wiggins Offline
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Originally Posted by Dark_Canuck
Thanks for posting this. It is always great to get a little more insight into these heros of the past. Especially if they are Canadian, but that may be my bias coming through.



Well I may be a little biased as well but in particular I am always interested in unsung hero's so to speak. There are many pilots who achieved substantial success in and out of war who are poorly recognized.

You are welcome to the post.

If you get a chance you should acquire the book "William Barker VC by Ralph from Willey press" . The 2007 year publication is the one I recommend as it has additional content missing from the original.

It is an amazing read.


Attached Files 21CvxXAI67L._BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Last edited by Robert_Wiggins; 09/24/17 06:14 PM.

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#4381087 - 09/24/17 06:35 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Thank you for the recommendation. Fortunately, the New Brunswick library system has a decent collection of WW1 aviation books and the 2007 version is available. Off to the library!

#4381101 - 09/24/17 07:08 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Thanks to Robert Wiggins' generous gift to me of this latest edition of Ralph's work I can also personally recommend it. I am a good way into it and it is an excellent read. Thank you again Robert for your thoughtfulness, it is most appreciated my friend.

.


[Linked Image]

Three RFC Brass Hats were strolling down a street in London. Two walked into a bar, the third one ducked.
_________________________________________________________________________

Former Cold War Warrior, USAF Security Service 1974-1978, E-4, Morse Systems Intercept, England, Europe, and points above.
"pippy-pahpah-pippy pah-pip-pah"

#4381139 - 09/24/17 09:31 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: RAF_Louvert]  
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Originally Posted by RAF_Louvert
.

Thanks to Robert Wiggins' generous gift to me of this latest edition of Ralph's work I can also personally recommend it. I am a good way into it and it is an excellent read. Thank you again Robert for your thoughtfulness, it is most appreciated my friend.

.


You are most welcome and deserving Lou!

Besides, Now i can claim to have an interest in your formidable library! biggrin

Last edited by Robert_Wiggins; 09/24/17 09:32 PM.

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#4381746 - 09/27/17 07:46 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Just started going through the book today. It is gorgeous! I cant wait to dig into it further.

#4381751 - 09/27/17 08:32 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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You will really enjoy it and at the end, Barker talks of portents to come. In hindsight it is as though he had a vision.

Last edited by Robert_Wiggins; 09/28/17 12:08 AM.

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#4385288 - 10/16/17 04:59 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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It has been a while since I read "William Barker, VC" by Wayne Ralph, so this review is neither as detailed nor as complete as I would like.

I learned of Barker at an early age; I am not sure how. Perhaps there was a story in a grade-school reader back in those days before stories for the young had to be so soft and sanitized as they are now. For example, I have a clear recollection of a Grade Three reader telling the story of Smokey Smith breaking up a tank attack with his PIAT and winning the VC. I guess that Barker's tale was similarly polished up for me to read early on. I do recall, though, that I was taught the old myth of his taking on sixty Huns single-handed.

So it was that when I became embroiled in the WOFF world I went looking for this book. One day last year while visiting my sister in Nova Scotia I walked into a second-hand book dealer and asked if he'd heard of it. The owner smiled and pointed at the shelf behind me and there it was -- and I'm glad I bought it.

Early in the book Ralph tell the story of Barker's burial place, virtually hidden in the crypt of his wife's family. His funeral in 1930 had been a national event, yet today he is all but forgotten. No airport or stage play bears his name, in contrast with his fellow ace and friend Billy Bishop. Barker was an enigmatic, sometimes difficult character, it seems.

Ralph tells the tale of Barker's rough-hewn childhood on his parents' Manitoba homestead. He was a daring, even reckless boy for whom prairie life must have been a bit stifling and the war a welcome break. After serving in a machine gun section with the Canadian Mounted Rifles, he transferred to the RFC as an observer and gained his commission in early 1916. He won the MC for his work as an observer and was recommended for flight training. He qualified as a pilot in early 1917. He was not a gifted flier, but he was a solid shot and a student of tactics. He returned to the front on two-seaters, soon to add a bar to his MC.

Never one to avoid pushing for what he wanted, Barker campaigned to be allowed to fly scouts. His nerves were catching up to him, though, and he was sent back to England to become an instructor. In what seems to have been his approach to authority, he made a determined effort to be a poor instructor and eventually won a posting to 28 Squadron, fitting out on Camels. Barker's rough edges, Methodist teetotalism, and proclivity to insubordination won him few friends among the British officers in the squadron (and Ralph takes an admirably balanced view of this aspect of his subject's character).

Barker fought briefly on the Western Front until October 1917, when he transferred to the Italian Front. Ralph does a very good job of outlining the Italian Campaign and giving the flavour of the air war south of the Alps. In March 1918, Barker left 28 Squadron for 66 Squadron, where he enjoyed a fresh start as a Flight Commander and later Squadron Leader. As a reader, this was where I began to warm up to Barker. He took his leadership responsibilities seriously (compared to Billy Bishop) and he helped 66 raise its score while earning the respect of those he flew with. But combat took its toll and Ralph illustrates well the creeping fatigue that comes when one's mental bucket is full. Ralph's account of Barker's return to England, his brief attachment to a scout squadron to reacquaint himself with the Western Front, and the famous fight that brought his VC is the work of a sound historian, fond of his subject but not lacking in perspective.

A full third of the book is devoted to Barker's post-war efforts to find his way in the peacetime world: his failed business partnership with Bishop, his involvement in the creation of the RCAF, his marriage and its difficulties, his struggles with alcohol and with pain from his war wounds, and his eventual death in a hard-to-understand flying accident.

This is a really worthwhile read. Just don't expect to come away with the sort of strong admiration you can get from, say, a Mick Mannock.

#4385336 - 10/16/17 08:17 PM Re: William George Barker VC [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Raine;

Some additional things I came away with after finishing the book was the following:

1) it is interesting to discover Barker's fortuitous insight towards World War II on page 254 of that book in which he wrote a column in the London Sunday Express (1922) entitled "Shall We Abandon the Air?" in response to a letter from Mr. John Galsworthy(highly succesful author) to the Press, advocating the complete civil and military abandoning of the air! Not to give too much away but I found this very insightful on Barker's part.

2) It seems that he had some significant thoughtful and insightful moments in his later years, though much of his personal life was not fruitful. It is too bad that Shredward's grandfather didn't leave his personal impression of his early years time spent with Barker. Had he done so, we might have had a different insight into the nature of the man in his early youth.

Last edited by Robert_Wiggins; 10/16/17 08:53 PM.

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