Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Honored Allies Wednesday: Cyril J. Barton (United Kingdom)


On the night of March 30 1944, while flying in an attack on the city of Nuremberg, Germany, whilst 70 miles from the target, Pil Off Barton's Handley Page Halifax bomber was badly shot-up in attacks by two Luftwaffe night-fighters, a Ju 88 and a Me 210, resulting in two of its fuel tanks being punctured, both its radio and rear turret gun port being disabled, the starboard inner engine being critically damaged and the internal intercom lines being cut.  In a running battle, despite the attacks being persistent and determined, Barton as captain of the aircraft succeeded by good flying in throwing off and escaping his faster and more agile assailants.  However, a misunderstanding in on-board communications in the aircraft at the height of the crisis resulted in three of the 7-man crew bailing out, leaving Barton with no navigator, bombardier or wireless operator.  Rather than turn back for England, he decided to press on with the mission deep into the Third Reich's heartland, against the odds of further attacks in a semi-wrecked aircraft which was leaking fuel and handicapped by lack of a full crew.  Arriving over the target, he released the bomb payload himself and then, as Barton turned the aircraft for home, its ailing starboard engine blew-up.  Subsequently he nursed the damaged air frame over a four-and-a-half hour flight with no navigational assistance back across the hostile defenses of Germany and Occupied Europe, and across the North Sea.  As his plane crossed the English coast at dawn 90 miles to the north of its base its fuel ran out because of the battle damage leakage and with only one engine still running on vapors and at too low a height to allow a remaining crew bail-out by parachute, Barton crash-landed the bomber at the village of Ryhope, steering away in the final descent from the houses and coal pit-head workings.  Barton was pulled from the wrecked aircraft alive but died of injuries sustained in the landing before he reached the hospital.  The three remaining on-board members of the crew survived the forced landing.  One local man, a miner, also died when he was struck by a part of the plane's wreckage during the impact of the crash.

From an account of Pil Off Barton's Victory Cross action, awarded in June, 1944.

Another account of a ally who's bravery was above and beyond,

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