BARTON, F/L Robert Alexander (37664) - Distinguished
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 22 October 1940
This officer has displayed outstanding leadership. His
skill was particularly displayed on September 28, when his squadron destroyed
twenty enemy aircraft. Flight Lieutenant Barton has destroyed four enemy
machines and shared in the destruction of others.
NOTE: The citation is erroneous in that it should specify
September 27, not September 28.
Specifically listed in AFRO 1292/41 dated 7 November
1941 as a Canadian in the RAF who had been decorated as of that date.
AFRO 1340/41 dated 14 November 1941 (announcing Bar to DFC) also stated
he was a Canadian in the RAF.
Born in Kamloops, British Columbia, 7 June
Enrolled in RAF, 27 January 1936
No.41 Squadron, 11 October 1936; served with
No.249 Squadron in Battle of Britain and
Malta, 15 May '40 to 8
Commanding the unit from December 1940 onwards.
Took the squadron to Malta, 21 May 1941,
flying from deck of HMS
Crash-landed and sustained 2nd-deg burns on 1 Aug.'41
Remained on Malta and returned to action.
Returned to Britain in December 1941
to serve at an Operational
Subsequently a staff officer in Fighter Command,
Early 1945 given command of North Weald;
Posted to India in August 1945.
On return to Britain in 1948 he served in staff appointments
Retiring in 1959.
BARTON, S/L Robert Alexander, DFC (37664) - Bar
to DFC - No.249 Squadron
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 31 October 1941
No citation other than "for gallantry and devotion to duty in the
execution of air operations."
Public Records Office Air 2/4782 (Non-Immediate Awards,
Middle East, 1941-1943) has following recommendation communicated by RAFHQ
Middle East to Air Ministry Honours and Awards Committee, 2 October 1941:
Squadron Leader Barton is Officer Commanding No.249 Squadron.
During his period of service in the United Kingdom this officer shot down
seven and one-half enemy aircraft confirmed and since his arrival in Malta
has shot down four and one-half enemy aircraft including one enemy bomber
at night. He shows a high standard of courage and initiative and his excellent
leadership has been a tonic to his flight commanders and fellow pilots
and to the station in general. He leads his squadron on all interceptions
and offensive fighter patrols which entails being on "Standby"
every other day. In addition to this he performs night fighter duties
which on many occasions have entailed being on watch for the entire 24
hours without a break. The results obtained by the fighter effort on the
island of Malta can be largely credited to the efforts of this officer
in the manner in which he inspires the pilots under his command.
This was edited down for the Honours and Awards Committee
at Air Ministry:
This officer destroyed seven hostile aircraft during
a period of service in the United Kingdom. Since his arrival in Malta
he has led his squadron on all interceptions and fighter patrols during
which he has destroyed four hostile aircraft, including one at night.
Squadron Leader Barton has, throughout, shown a high standard of courage,
leadership and initiative and has contributed materially to the results
obtained by the fighter effort on the island.
Airmen Who Met Huns During Battle of Britain
Some of Canada's First Aces of This War Still Are in Action
- Pilots Now Seek Out Enemy Over His Own Territory
(Written for the Canadian Press by F/L Basil Dean, R.C.A.F.)
Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, Sept. 8, 1943 — (CP) —
There are still some of the few left, some of those hard-fighting combat
pilots of Battle of Britain days, but mostly it is a new brood of pilots
who fly from the air bases hereabouts in Britain's Fighter Command. Three
years ago, when the first few of Canada's aerial aces were fighting their
way to fame, the battles were over British soil. Now, with greater numbers
of Canadians than ever before in Fighter Command, the pilots are going
out to seek the enemy over his own territory. This air fighting of today
is offensive, not defensive, as during the Battle of Britain, but it was
the fighting then that made the current offensive possible.
Some Still Flying
Some of the Canadians who fought with honor and glory in those grim days
three years ago are still flying. W/C D. B. Russel,
D.F.C., of Montreal, who now leads an R.C.A.F. Spitfire wing in Britain,
was then P/O Dal Russel and a member of Canada's No. 1 Fighter Squadron,
which arrived in England in June, 1940 — just in time to get trained
for the fierce tests of August and September of that year.
Russel's old commanding officer, Ernie McNab,
now is Group Capt. Ernest McNab, D.F.C., of Regina, commander of an R.C.A.F.
In Sicily, S/L Stanley Turner, D.F.C.
and Bar, of Toronto, led the R.C.A.F.'s City of Windsor fighter squadron
through the island campaign. In 1940, he was a flight commander in the
R.A.F.’s famed "all-Canadian" squadron led by Wing-Cmdr.
Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C., which
destroyed 63 enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain and shared three
with other squadrons.
The squadron was composed mainly of Canadians who had joined the R.A.F.
before the war, and fought nobly during the Battle of France and over
Its achievements during the Battle of Britain, indeed, brought from the
air officer commanding of the group in which it was serving at the time
a message which said that its efficiency as a squadron was "equal,
if not superior, to any squadron in the R.A.F." The British chief
of air staff signaled: "You are well on top of the enemy and obviously
the fine Canadian traditions of the last war are safe in your hands."
Greatest pilot of the "all-Canadian" squadron—apart from
the legless commander, Bader (who was not Canadian)—was P/O W. L.
McKnight, D.F.C. and bar, of Calgary, who was
reported missing some months after the Battle of Britain ended. McKnight
destroyed 16½ enemy aircraft, and was the first Canadian ace of
The "all-Canadian" squadron's first Battle of Britain engagement
was August 30, when Bader, now a prisoner of war, led a formation of 14
Hurricanes against a "vast number" of German aircraft, two swarms
of 70 to 100 each. Detaching one section to investigate a third formation
of aircraft some distance away, Bader led the rest of his pilots to the
attack. As a result, 12 enemy aircraft were destroyed; not one of the
Hurricanes had so much a scratch.
Similar engagements followed. On September 7, Bader and his Canadians
destroyed 10 enemy aircraft without losing a pilot, although seven of
the squadron's Hurricanes were damaged. On September 19, when the wing
in which the squadron was flying destroyed a total of 18 enemy aircraft,
the "all-Canadians" were credited with 11 of these for the loss
of one pilot killed.
And then, in the greatest day's fighting of all on September 15, the squadron
destroyed 12 enemy aircraft. This was the day on which Bader described
the fighting as "the finest shamble I've ever been in."
"The sky," he added, "was full of Hurricanes and. Spitfires,
queuing up and pushing each other out of the way to get at the Dormers.
I was seldom able to hold my sights on a target for long for fear of colliding
with other Spitfires and Hurricanes anxious to get in a burst."
Among the Canadians P/O J. B. Latta, D.F.C., Victoria,
B.C., had knocked down five enemy planes; F/L Turner had five; so had
P/O N. K. Stansfeld, D.F.C., Vancouver. P/O
H. N. Tamblyn, D.F.C., North Battleford, Sask.,
and P/O N. Hart had four each. Altogether Canadian
pilots in the squadron had destroyed 45 of the total of 65 credited to
the squadron; Bader had scored 11.
Canada's own No. 1 fighter squadron, which although its personnel have
completely changed; is still flying in Britain with fighter command, had
scored a total of 31 victories during the battle under McNab's leadership.
McNab himself had scored the first victory to be credited to a member
of the squadron when, in order to gain combat experience, he flew as a
supernumerary officer with an R.A.F. squadron before No. 1 fighter was
ready for front-line duties.
In the squadron's first engagement as a unit, on August 24, it destroyed
three Dorniers for the loss of one pilot. By the end of its first week
in action it had destroyed eight enemy aircraft for the loss of one pilot
killed. The score continued to mount until September 27, when the Canadian
squadron destroyed seven enemy aircraft out of about 70 engaged during
the day; one pilot of the squadron was killed. In the day's first fight,
Russel had destroyed an ME 109 and an ME 110 and had shared with a Polish
pilot the destruction of a third enemy fighter.
McNab, F/L G. R. McGregor and Russel were each
awarded the D.F.C., having destroyed between them, 11½ of the squadron's
total. McNab and McGregor now are both group captains; Russel is a wing
In other squadrons of the R.A.F., Canadians had also distinguished themselves.
One of the flight commanders in the R.A.F. squadron was a Canadian, F/L
R. A. Barton, Kamloops, B.C., who later became squadron commander of his
unit. He was awarded the D.F.C. for his "outstanding leadership"
on September 27, a day on which the squadron destroyed 21 enemy aircraft
for the loss of two pilots killed. The total bag during September was
48, a total exceeded only by the famous No. 303 Polish squadron, in which
another Canadian, F/L (now Wing-Cmdr.) John Kent,
Winnipeg, was at that time a flight commander.
Air Ministry, 1st January, 1945.
The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the publication
of the names of the following personnel who have been Mentioned
in Despatches: —
R. A. BARTON, D.F.C. (37664), R.A.F.O.
BARTON, W/C Robert Alexander, DFC (37664) - Officer,
Order of the British Empire
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 14 June 1945
CENTRAL CHANCERY OF THE ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD
St. James's Palace, S.W.I, 14th June, 1945
The KING has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of the Celebration of His Majesty's Birthday, to give orders for the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire: —
To be Additional Officers of the Military Division of the said Most Excellent Order:
Wing Commander Robert Alexander BARTON, D.F.C. (37664), Reserve of Air Force Officers
It's interesting to note that his Bar is not mentioned in any subsequent award
Chris Shores in Aces High (2nd ed) lists his victories
24 Aug 1940
2 Sep 1940
11 Sep 1940
15 Sep 1940
18 Sep 1940
27 Sep 1940
29 Oct 1940
7 Nov 1940
11 Nov 1940
4 Feb 1941
3 Jun 1941
7/8 Jun 1941
17 Jul 1941
25 Jul 1941
4 Sep 1941
19 Oct 1941
22 Nov 1941
damaged, Middle Wallop
destroyed, Isle of Wight
damaged, SW of London (squadron claim)
destroyed, Thames Estuary
damaged, Thames Estuary
destroyed, North Weald
damaged, North Weald
probably destroyed over sea, Clacton
destroyed, over the Channel
destroyed, Kentish Knock Lightship
destroyed, off Gozo
destroyed, off Malta at night
probably destroyed &
damaged, off Cap Passero
destroyed, S of Lampedusa
destroyed, NE of Gozo