Pilot Officer Cyril Joe Barton VC (168669) R.A.F.V.R.
Cyril Joe Barton was born 5th June 1921 in Elvedon, Suffolk. He volunteered for aircrew duties joining the RAFVR on 16th April 1941. He was duly posted to pilot training in the Arnold Scheme as a member of class 42G, although he graduated as a Sergeant Pilot with class 42J in November 1942.
On return to the UK he undertook Heavy Conversion training in Yorkshire before he and his crew joined 78 Squadron in September 1943 where he received his commission. In January 1944 the crew were posted to 578 Squadron.
On the night of 30th / 31st March 1944 Cyril Barton and his crew took off on their 19th mission in Halifax LK797 to attack Nuremberg. Some 70 miles short of the target the aircraft was attacked by a Junkers 88 during which the intercom system was rendered useless. An engine was damaged when a Messerschmitt 210 joined the attack, and two fuel tanks began to leak as fighters pressed home the attack.
As the aircraft approached the target a misinterpreted signal resulted in the navigator, bomb aimer and wireless operator bailing out but Pilot Officer Barton pressed home the attack, releasing the bomb load himself.
Turning for home, Cyril Barton successfully bought his badly damaged aircraft back without navigational aids, crossing the English coast 90 miles north of his base. By now the fuel reserves were almost exhausted and before a suitable landing place could be found the port engines stopped. The aircraft was too low to be successfully abandoned so the three remaining crew members were order to take up their crash stations.
With only one engine working Cyril Barton made a valiant attempt to land clear of the houses and pit heads over which they were flying, the aircraft finally crashing at Ryhope, Sunderland.
Cyril Barton died from his injuries en-route to hospital. He was 22 years old. His three crew members survived the crash landing.
"In gallantly completing his last mission in the face of almost impossible odds, this officer displayed unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty".