George Barker VC – Military Cross and bar, DSO and bar
Born 1894 – Manitoba, Canada
Barker enlisted 1914 Canadian Mounted Rifles (private) almost as soon as he arrived in England he applied to join the RFC. You had to complete a 9 month tour as an air observer before being accepted as a pilot. This he did with great success being credited with 3 enemy shot down; for this he received the Military Cross (MC).
After this he trained as a pilot and joined 15 Squadron. His outstanding skill earned him a bar to his Military Cross. He was wounded around this time during a ground attack sortie. Once recovered, he was posted to 28 Squadron, flying Sopwith Camels. After two combats the squadron was posted to the Italian front. His squadron took part in both aerial combat and in ground attack sorties. By April 1918, he claimed 15 enemy aircraft. For this he was awarded the DSO. Within another few weeks he claimed a further 16 aircraft shot down/destroyed and received a second bar to his MC and a bar to his DSO; the citation for this credited him with a total of 33 victories.
He was then promoted to C/O of 66 Squadron and completed almost a year of continuous ops without rest. He led his squadron from the air participating in daily sorties. He was not only decorated by the UK but also by the French and Italians.
Returning to England
Always keen to return to the front, he was given a Sopwith Camel to evaluate. So he flew to France for a two week attachment.
On October 27, 1918, he began his return to England. He soon spotted a German reconnaissance aircraft, and being the fighter pilot he was, he attacked and destroyed this enemy. He was immediately attacked by the escort and was wounded in the thigh. Despite the injury, he managed to turn into his attacker and shot him down too.
He was then set upon by another 15 enemy aircraft. He was wounded again and began to lose consciousness due to the blood loss and was close to losing control of the Sopwith for a brief second. The Sopwith stalled but he managed to recover. But to his dismay he was still under attack. He again turned into the attack and again shot down another enemy aircraft.
As his Sopwith descended, he never quit the fight, not until he crash landed. He was lucky enough to be rescued by allied soldiers who got him to hospital, just in time to save his life.
Just after the armistice, on November 30, 1918, the London Gazette announced that Barker joined the fledgling RCAF in 1920 and a decade later, he was appointed Vice President of Fairchild Aviation Canada.
He was unfortunately killed in a flying accident in 1930. He was so respected that his funeral viewing drew a 5 mile line up. Such was his renown.