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Dryden

Barker/Voss

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I have a hard time understanding why William Barker VC is never mentioned in the same breath as Werner Voss. I think it has to do with Canadians in general and our inferiority complex.

We just have never been very good at listing our accomplishments in battle and our heroes have suffered as a result

Voss fought 8 very accomplished British pilots and was eventually killed after putting up a heroic struggle. Barker took on anywhere from 15-60 front line German pilots in plain view of the troops below in his final

sortie and shot down 4 even though horribly wounded. He crash landed and survived. Barker never lost a wingman. I am a Canadian and am ashamed to say that I never knew that

Barker was the most decorated British (commonwealth) participant in any conflict including WWII. He is largely forgotten in his native country or was until Wayne Ralph authored

Barker VC. There were no monuments to the man whose remains were entombed in a crypt with only his wife's maiden name on the door. Thankfully this is being rectified in his native

country but much too late. Barker was an annoyance after the war because of his injuries and ptsd and the constant pain he was in. He turned to alcohol and was a bitter and depressed

man until his death in a flying accident (suicide?) at the age of 36. When the greatest fighter pilots in WWI are mentioned he is almost an afterthought if he is even included. Perhaps

the greatest measure of his abilities as a pilot was given by a man who was not prone to handing out compliments Billy Bishop said that There was no fighter pilot including MVR who could best 

him. 

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Well said. Yes, William Barker deserves to be better remembered, the most decorated man in Canadian military history. ( and THAT is quite a history, especially on the Atlantic convoys of WW2). In our small modelling world, look to WNW's who have dedicated a kit and figure to him.  Many are building this kit, and researching him in the process of producing an accurate depiction of him and his machine. Rememberance is a form of immortality. Regards, Pete in RI.   ps, Yes, I do have him in my collection. 

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sad ... but there is a book about him.

the price on Amazon ranges from £7 to almost  £60.

enjoy learning more..I read a lot ....

but here it is...

 

William Barker, VC: The Life, Death and Legend of Canada's Most Decorated War Hero

 
ISBN-13: 978-0470839676, ISBN-10: 0470839678

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I completely agree. As a fellow Canadian (which I am) or as a follower of aviation and military history, his exploits are legendary. I built both his Camel and Snipe and shared them in the RFI.

 

Cheers,  Tom

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Not saying that Barker wasn't a great pilot, but I wouldn't put too much stock in what Billy Bishop said - the man had, shall we say, an interesting relationship with the truth...

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War heroes are like sports stars, they are in the public eye for as long as they are scoring goals, or in Barker’s case, shooting down enemy aircraft.  Peter Kilduff makes just one reference to Barker in his book ‘Billy Bishop VC, Lone Wolf Hunter’.

 

“Many of the heroes of WW1, who had been household names in the days of fighting slipped into obscurity in peacetime.”

“When the lecture audiences eventually dwindled, Billy tried his hand at a business venture with Canada’s only other VC winning fighter pilot, Major William George Barker.”

“The two ‘Billies’ formed the Barker Bishop Company… eventually, the business failed, and Barker joined the fledgling Royal Canadian Air Force”

 

Barker’s star shone briefly, but war heroes rarely last the test of time.  If you ask the man on the street to name any fighter ace, from any conflict, the most likely answer would be ‘The Red Baron’, not for his exploits but because of the association with Snoopy.  Students of military history will know and appreciate William Barker VC, and that should be accolade enough.  

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