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Name: William George Barker Balloon-Buster
Victoria Cross (VC)
Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Bar
Military Cross (MC) and 2 Bars
2 Silver Medals for Military Valor
William Barker Croix de Guerre [France]
Country: Canada
Rank: Major
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Units: 4, 9, 15, 28, 66 (RFC)
139, 201 (RAF)
Victories: 50
Born: 03 November 1894
Place of Birth: Dauphin, Manitoba
Died: 12 March 1930 Killed In Flying Accident
Place of Death: Rockcliffe Aerodrome, near Ottawa
Cemetery: Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 
 
The son of Mrs. George Barker, of Rathwell, Manitoba, William George Barker left high school in Dauphin to enlist in the Canadian Mounted Rifles in December 1914. He spent eight months in the trenches before he received a commission in the Royal Flying Corps in April 1916. After starting out as a mechanic, he qualified as an observer in August 1916 and shot down his first enemy aircraft from the rear seat of a B.E.2d.

Posted to England in November 1916, he soloed after 55 minutes of dual instruction and received a pilot's certificate in January 1917. A month later, he was back in France flying an R.E.8 until wounded by anti-aircraft fire on 7 August 1917. When he recovered, he served as a flight instructor before returning to combat duty in France.

In November 1917, his squadron was reassigned to Italy where Barker's Sopwith Camel became the single most successful fighter aircraft of the war. Logging more than 379 hours of flight time, Barker shot down 46 enemy aircraft before Camel #B6313 was retired from service and dismantled on 2 October 1918. That month, he assumed command of the air combat school at Hounslow.

Deciding he needed to brush up on air combat techniques for his new assignment, Barker joined 201 Squadron for ten days in France. During that time, he saw no action and was about to return to England when he decided to make one more excursion over the front. On 27 October 1918, alone and flying a Sopwith Snipe, he encountered sixty Fokker D.VIIs flying in stepped formation. In an epic battle with Jagdgeschwader 3, Barker shot down four enemy aircraft despite appalling wounds to both legs and his elbow. Fainting from pain and loss of blood, he managed to crash land his Snipe within the safety of the British lines. For his actions that day, Barker received the Victoria Cross (VC).
 
Military Cross (MC)
Temp. 2nd Lt. William George Barker, Gen. List and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry in action. He flew at a height of 500 feet over the enemy's lines, and brought back most valuable information. On another occasion, after driving off two hostile machines, he carried out an excellent photographic reconnaissance.
 
Military Cross (MC) First Bar
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has done continuous good work in co-operation with the artillery, and has carried out successful reconnaissances under most difficult and dangerous conditions.
 
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
T./Capt. William George Barker, M.C., Gen. Lisit and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When on scouting and patrol work he has on five different occasions brought down and destroyed five enemy aeroplanes and two balloons, though on two of these occasions he was attacked by superior numbers. On each occasion the hostile machines were observed to crash to earth, the wreckage bursting into flames. His splendid example of fearlessness and magnificent leadership have been of inestimable value to his squadron.
 
Military Cross (MC) Second Bar
T./Capt. William George Barker, D.S.O., M.C., Gen. List and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When leading patrols he on one occasion attacked eight hostile machines, himself shooting down two, and on another occasion seven, one of which he shot down. In two months he himself destroyed four enemy machines and drove down one, and burned two balloons.
   (M.C. gazetted 10th January, 1917.)
   (Bar to M.C. gazetted 18th July, 1917.)
 
Distinguished Service Order (DSO) Bar
Capt. (T./Major) William George Barker, D.S.O., M.C.
   A highly distinguished patrol leader whose courage, resource and determination has set a fine example to those around him. Up to the 20th July, 1918, he had destroyed thirty-three enemy aircraft—twenty-one of these since the date of the last award (second Bar to the Military Cross) was conferred on him. Major Barker has frequently led formations against greatly superior numbers of the enemy with conspicuous success.
 
Victoria Cross (VC)
Capt. (A./Major) William George Barker, D.S.O., M.C., No. 201 Sqn., R.A. Force.
   On the morning of the 27th October, 1918, this officer observed an enemy two-seater over the Fôret 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 this, 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 endeavoured 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 up 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.
   Major Barker was awarded the Military Cross on 10th January, 1917; first Bar on 18th July, 1917; the Distinguished Service Order on 18th February, 1918; second Bar to Military Cross on 16th September, 1918; and Bar to Distinguished Service Order on 2nd November, 1918.
 
Victories
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 20 Oct 1917 1215 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.III Roulers
2 26 Oct 1917 1215 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V W of Roulers
3 26 Oct 1917 1220 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Roulers-Thielt
4 29 Nov 1917 1215 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Pieve di Soligo
5 03 Dec 1917 1245 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.III NE of Conegliano
6 03 Dec 1917 1250 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon NE of Conegliano
7 29 Dec 1917 0845 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon NE of Pieve di Soligo
8 01 Jan 1918 1100 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V NW of Vittorio
9 24 Jan 1918 1620 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon 1 2 km E of Conegliano
10 24 Jan 1918 1620 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon 1 E of Conegliano
11 02 Feb 1918 1050 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Phönix D.I 1 km SW of Conegliano
12 02 Feb 1918 1050 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) C Gera
13 05 Feb 1918 1200 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.III 3 km NW of Oderzo
14 05 Feb 1918 1215 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) C Cornure
15 12 Feb 1918 1445 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon 1 Fossamerlo
16 12 Feb 1918 1445 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon 1 Fossamerlo
17 12 Feb 1918 1445 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon 1 Fossamerlo
18 12 Feb 1918 1445 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon 1 Fossamerlo
19 12 Feb 1918 1445 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Balloon 1 Fossamerlo
20 18 Mar 1918 1245 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.III Villanova
21 19 Mar 1918 1245 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.III Bassiano
22 19 Mar 1918 1250 28 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.III N of Cismon
23 17 Apr 1918 1100 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.III E of Vittorio
24 08 May 1918 1920 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) C Annone-Cessalto
25 11 May 1918 1045 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Torre di Mosto
26 20 May 1918 0800 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Levico
27 20 May 1918 0803 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Levico
28 21 May 1918 0750 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Lloyd C N of Treviso
29 23 May 1918 1215 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) C S of Motta
30 24 May 1918 1045 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Grigno-Val Sugana
31 24 May 1918 1050 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Val Sugana
32 03 Jun 1918 0830 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Brandenberg C Fiume-Feltre
33 09 Jun 1918 1020 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Brandenberg D Levico
34 09 Jun 1918 1025 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Brandenberg D Levico
35 21 Jun 1918 0900 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Motta
36 25 Jun 1918 0910 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Brandenberg D Susegana
37 13 Jul 1918 0705 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Brandenberg D Conegliano-Godega
38 13 Jul 1918 0708 66 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V 1 mi S of Godega aerodrome
39 18 Jul 1918 0805 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) C S of Gallio
40 18 Jul 1918 0810 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) C 2 2 mi N of Asiago
41 20 Jul 1918 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Motta
42 20 Jul 1918 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V Motta
43 23 Jul 1918 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) Albatros D.V 3 Godega aerodrome
44 18 Sep 1918 1000 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) D 4 mi S of Feltre
45 18 Sep 1918 1000 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) D S of Feltre
46 18 Sep 1918 1005 139 Sopwith Camel (B6313) D 3 mi N of Queroe
47 27 Oct 1918 0825 201 Sopwith Snipe (E8102) Rumpler C Mormal Woods
48 27 Oct 1918 0830 201 Sopwith Snipe (E8102) Fokker D.VII Mormal Woods
49 27 Oct 1918 0830 201 Sopwith Snipe (E8102) Fokker D.VII Mormal Woods
50 27 Oct 1918 0830 201 Sopwith Snipe (E8102) Fokker D.VII Mormal Woods

1 Shared with Lt Harold Hudson
2 Shared with Lt G T C May (D9414)
3 Shared with Lt H C Walters & Lt C T Davies (C916)
 
Books
The Air VCs
VCs of the First World War; Peter J. Cooksley / Hardcover / Alan Sutton 1997
Barker, VC
The Classic Story of a Legendary First World War Hero; Wayne Ralph / Softcover / Grub Street 1999
William Barker, VC
The Life, Death & Legend of Canada's Most Decorated War Hero; Wayne Ralph / Hardcover / Wiley 2007
 
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