||Cyril Joe Barton entered pilot training
the USA under the Arnold Scheme in late 1941. A member of Class 42G he set
sail from Gourock, Scotland to Halifax, Canada aboard the transport ship
"Pasteur". After acclimatization at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama
received his Primary Training at Darr Aero Tech, Albany, Georgia, and was
one of a relative minority who were allowed to complete their training,
having been "held back" by illness or accidents, finally graduating as a member
of Class 42J.
The following citation appeared
in the fifth supplement to The London Gazette of Friday 23rd June 1944,
which was published on Tuesday 27th June 1944.
On the night of 30th March 1944,
Pilot Officer Barton was captain and pilot of a Halifax aircraft of 578
Squadron detailed to attack Nuremberg. When some 70 miles short of
the target, the aircraft was attacked by a Junkers 88. The first
burst of fire from the enemy aircraft made the intercommunication system
useless. One engine was damaged when a Messerschmitt 210 joined
the fight. The bomber's machine guns were unable to return the
Fighters continued to attack the
aircraft as it approached the target area and, in the confusion caused
by the failure of the intercommunication system at the height of battle,
a signal was misinterpreted and the navigator, air bomber and wireless
operator left the aircraft by parachute.
Pilot Officer Barton faced a
situation of dire peril. His aircraft was damaged, his
navigational team had gone, and he could not communicate with the
remainder of the crew. If he continued his mission, he would be at
the mercy of hostile fighters when silhouetted against the fires in the
target area and if he survived, he would have to make a 4½
hours journey home on three engines across heavily defended territory.
Determined to press home his attack at all costs, he flew on and,
reaching the target, released the bombs himself.
Officer Barton turned for home the propeller of the damaged engine,
which was vibrating badly, flew off. It was discovered that two of
the petrol tanks had suffered damage and were leaking. Pilot
Officer Barton held to his course and, without navigational aids and in
spite of strong head winds, successfully avoided the most dangerous
defence areas on his route. Eventually he crossed the English
coast only 90 miles north of his base.
time the petrol supply was nearly exhausted. Before a suitable
landing place could be found, the port engines stopped. The
aircraft was now too low to be abandoned successfully. Pilot
Officer Barton therefore ordered the three remaining members of his crew
to take up their crash positions. Then, with only one engine
working, he made a gallant attempt to land clear of the houses over
which he was flying. The aircraft finally crashed and Pilot
Officer Barton lost his life, but his three comrades survived.
Officer Barton had previously taken part in 4 attacks on Berlin and 14
other operational missions. On one of these, two members of his
crew were wounded during a determined effort to locate the target
despite appalling weather conditions. In gallantly completing his last
mission in the face of almost impossible odds, this officer displayed
unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty.
Footnote: Aircraft as badly damaged as this
one was, often faced "friendly fire" as they approached and crossed the
coast to make for a suitable landing ground. Some would be hit by
Anti-Aircraft fire; some would crash in sight of safety; whilst others had
to face encountering clusters of barrage balloons and/or RAF night-fighter
Barton is buried at Kingston-on-Thames (C.W.G.C. Ref. UK4253) and is
survived by his three sisters.
account first appeared in Issue 25 of Arnold News (May 1996)