A Collection of Medals to Second World War Royal Air Force Casualties
Date of Auction: 17th July 2019
Sold for £380
Estimate: £300 - £400
1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; War Medal 1939-45, with named Air Council enclosure, in card box of issue, addressed to ‘Mrs. V. Barker, 62 Charlton Road, Andover, Hants’, extremely fine (3) £300-£400
FootnoteGeorge Thomas Barker, a former R.A.F. Halton Apprentice, served during the Second World War as a Pilot with 150 Squadron from their deployment to Challerange Benson and then Ecury-Sur-Coole on 2 September 1939 as part of the A.A.S.F. By 18 September they were flying regular reconnaissance and combat patrols over the Franco-German border. On 30 September the Squadron suffered heavy casualties in an early engagement with Me.109’s. Barker and two others were patrolling the border and were not engaged.
From October 1939 to March 1940 Barker engaged in evasion techniques against enemy fighters, practice flying, reconnaissance photography and ferried in much needed replacement aircraft. On 3 March 1940 he was lead aircraft in a bombing attack on enemy positions near Bapaume. During March and April the squadron carried out numerous Nickel raids on various towns. By 2 May 1940 the squadron was fully engaged in low level bombing strikes on enemy positions, the invasion of France and the Lowlands was about to begin.
On 14 May with the German army advancing at a pace the Squadron was ordered to carry out Low level strikes on the pontoon bridges crossing the Meuse at Sedan. They sent four aircraft in two groups of two, and none returned. Barker was killed in action when Fairey Battle P5282, which he piloted, was ‘jumped’ and completely destroyed by Me.109’s as the made their bomb runs, his aircraft being claimed by Oberlt. Mayer of 1/JG53.
The only survivor of the four crews was Barker’s Air Gunner, Summerson, who would later be awarded the Croix de Guerre. In response to Barker’s widow’s subsequent attempts to find out what actually happened to her husband, Air Gunner Summerson gives a detailed account of the action:
‘Sergeant G. T. Barker, who was my pilot, whilst on operations in France, I regret to inform you that both he and the observer, Sergeant Williams were hit in the air by machine gun fire before our machine caught fire, and when we crashed in flames I was luckily thrown clear but the others were trapped in the aircraft. Although I tried to get them out, the flames and heat were too much for me and I was forced to leave them. One thing is certain though - they were unconscious at the time - perhaps dead already so the poor chaps would feel nothing. Please convey my deepest sympathy to Mrs. Barker and tell her that her husband died bravely for the sake of England and how much everyone with whom he came in contact liked him.”
Summerson says that although he had tried to write to Mrs. Barker he was unable to finding it the ‘most difficult task I have ever tackled.’ He asked for the letter to be forwarded.
Some 40 RAF aircraft were lost on this day during operations against the bridges, a catastrophic loss rate. Barker is buried in Choloy War Cemetery, France. His medals were sent to his widow, Vi Barker.
Sold with copied research.