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Air Vice-Marshal J L Barker (34127)

John Lindsay        b: 12 Nov 1910                         r: 26 Feb 1963                        d:  7 May 2004

CB -1 Jan 1963, CBE - 13 Jun 1946, DFC – 26 Oct 1945, MiD - 17 Sep 1943, MiD – 29 Jun 1948, BA.

(RAFO – Class AA2): Plt Off (P): 6 Jul 1931, Plt Off: 6 Jul 1932, Fg Off: 6 Jan 1933,

(RAF): Act Plt Off (P): 6 Feb 1934, Plt Off (P): 2 Sep 1934, Plt Off: 6 Feb 1935, Fg Off: 2 Apr 1936, Flt Lt: 2 Apr 1938, (T) Sqn Ldr: 1 Jun 1940, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Dec 1941, Act Gp Capt: xx xxx 1945, Wg Cdr: 1 Jan 1946?, Sqn Ldr: 1 May 1947 [1 Jan 1941], Act Wg Cdr: xx xxx xxxx, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1953, A/Cdre: N/A?, Act AVM:  30 Oct 1959, AVM: Retained.

 6 Jul 1931:                Officer, RAF Reserve of Officers (Class AA2).

6 Feb 1934:               Granted a Short Service Commission.

6 Feb 1934:               Relinquished his RAFO commission on appointment to a Short Service Commission.

6 Feb 1934:               U/T Pilot, No 3 FTS.

26 Nov 1934:            Pilot, No 26 Sqn.

 2 Apr 1938:              'C' Flight Commander, No 26 Sqn.

13 Jan 1940:              Chief Instructor, School of Army Co-operation.

xx Aug 1941:             Officer Commanding, No 241 Sqn. 

xx Jun 1943:

xx xxx 1944:               Staff, War Cabinet Plans

18 Nov 1944:             Officer Commanding, No 625 Sqn.

26 Mar 1945:             Officer Commanding, No 625 Sqn/RAF Kelstern

xx xxx 1945:               Officer Commanding, ‘Shield Force’, Far East.

xx Feb 1946:            

 1 Jul 1946:                 SASO, AHQ East Africa.

 1 May 1947:              Appointed to extended Commission (4 years on the active list) as a Squadron Leader (retaining rank current at the time)

13 Jan 1947:               Senior Personnel Staff Officer, AHQ Levant.

22 Jun 1948:               Appointed to Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader

23 Sep 1948:              SOA, HQ No 63 (Western and Welsh) Group.

xx Aug 1950:              Officer Commanding, RAF Ismailia.

31 Jul 1953:                SASO, HQ No 64 (Northern) Group.

xx Mar 1956:              Air Attaché, Rome.

30 Oct 1959:              AOC, Royal Ceylon Air Force.

The son a doctor, he was born in Hull and attended Trent College, Nottingham before going to Brasenose College in Oxford, where he read Law.  Whilst there he was a member of the University Air Squadron and was commissioned into the Reserve of Air Force Officers.

His first squadron was No 26 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, with whom he flew the Avro Atlas, Hawker Audax and Hector before converting to the Lysander in February 1939.  Having been appointed a Flight Commander in 1938, he was tasked with writing the  squadron’s mobilisation plan and in September 1939 he had to implement it and lead his flight to France.  He returned to the UK before the German invasion of the West to take up the post of Chief Instructor at the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum in Wiltshire.

He took command of 241 at Bottisham equipped with Lysanders for PR work and Tomahawks for army co-operation.  However, the Tomahawks were grounded in 1942 prior to complete re-equipment with Mustangs.   Moving to Ayr in May 1942, the squadron re-equipped yet again, this time with Hurricanes, eventually relocating overseas shortly after the Allied landing in North Africa.  The squadron changed aircraft once again in February 1943 when Spitfires arrived but operations did not stop and for a while sorties were flown on both types.  The squadron was involved in Tac/R, ground attack and bombing missions in support of the ground forces in North Africa and later Sicily.   At one point he incurred the wrath of General George Patton when he refused to attack a target with his fighter bombers as the it was too heavily defended and that the task should be allocated to medium bombers.  His decision was fully supported by the Allied Air Commander, Sir Arthur Tedder.

After his return from North Africa joined War Cabinet Plans and became involved with the planning of the forthcoming invasion of Normandy.  Following this planning task he asked to return to operational and unusually he requested to join a bomber squadron, being given command of No 625 Squadron at Kelstern in Lincolnshire.  Following a one-hour familiarisation flight he flew on the next operation over Germany and thereafter flew on most of the most dangerous raids, enduring him to his crews.   Prior to the end of the war in Europe, he was promoted to take command of ‘Shield Force’, which was formed as the advance element of ‘Tiger Force’ and set sail to the Pacific in command of 3,000 men.   However, as the ship approached the Admiralty Islands, he received new instructions to proceed to Hong Kong.  Commandeering a USAAF Dakota to the Philippines and from there an Anson.  The surrender of the Japanese in Hong Kong was taken by Rear Admiral C H J Harcourt on 29 August and he sent Barker to Kowloon to accept the surrender of the Japanese there and to re-establish RAF Kai Tak.

He returned to the UK in February 1946 and was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) in 1947.  At the beginning of 1947 he moved to Palestine and as Senior Personnel Staff Officer, became heavily involved in the preparations for the withdrawal of British forces from the region.   Moving west to Egypt he assumed command of RAF Ismailia and again had to deal with difficulties brought  about by local conditions, including riots.

He briefly returned to the UK to become SASO at HQ No 64 (Northern) Group, before heading overseas again as Air Attaché in Rome.  His final appointment was to command the recently formed Royal Ceylon Air Force.  During his tenure, he helped prevent a coup d'état by two Army officers, who he and his former ADC arrested.  Asked to extend his command of the RCeyAF by the Prime Minister, Mrs Bandaranaike, he declined and returned to Britain, where he worked in the City, finally retiring to Dartmouth.  During his early career John Barker had represented the RAF in both Rugby and Cricket as well as playing Rugby for Oxford Greyhounds and Leicester Tigers and in retirement he took up golf and sailed his own boat.  He was also President of the No 26 Squadron Association.

Citation of the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross

"BARKER, John Lindsay, W/C (34137, RAFO) - No.625 Squadron

Wing Commander Barker’s first tour of operations was completed in North Africa in No.241 Army Cooperation Squadron.  Since taking over command of his present squadron he has successfully attacked such targets as Zeitz, Essen and Dessau.  Much of the credit must go to Wing Commander Barker for the repeated successes which his squadron has achieved. By his enthusiasm and keenness to operate he has set an inspiring example to all under his command."

(Source - Air Ministry Bulletin 20047)

Citation of the award of Officer of the Order of the British Empire

BARKER, John Lindsey, A/G/C (34127, Royal Air Force) - Shield Force (now disbanded), Royal Air Force, Hong Kong - Officer, Order of the British Empire - awarded as per London Gazette dated 13 June 1946. 

"Group Captain Barker commanded the Shield Force originally destined for Okinawa.  Whilst this Force was in passage hostilities ceased and it was diverted to Hong Kong as part of the Forces of re-occupation.  Group Captain Barker proceeded ahead of the Force, in company with the Naval Force Commander, to make a preliminary reconnaissance of Hong Kong and the tasks in which their Forces would be engaged.  In this respect the “Shield” Force was allocated the responsibility for the reoccupation of Kowloon.  The task of the Forces were primarily to round up the Japanese garrison, to maintain law and order and suppress looting.  The “Shield” Force had received a modicum of military training but not in relation to the duties it was called upon to perform and in consequence, grave responsibilities devolved upon Group Captain Barker in the deployment and handling of his forces in conformity with military requirements.  In this connection he proved himself to be an excellent Force Commander and the energy, resourcefulness and sound judgement he displayed were worthy of high praise.  It was largely due to hjs fine leadership that the military reoccupation of Kowloon was completed successfully and without loss of life."

(Source - Air 2/9668)

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