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Mirage's Australian Aviation Outlook

Wing Commander Andrew William 'Nicky' BARR 250774/O35392 MC DFC & Bar

barr2.jpg

Squadrons: 23 Sqn, 3 Sqn, 2OTU

Date of Birth: 10th December 1915
Birthplace: Wellington NZ
Occupation: Trainee Accountant
Enlistment Date: 4th March 1940
Place of Enlistment: Windsor Victoria

History:
 
Nicky Barr was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on 10th December 1915, but grew up in Australia where he became a Rugby International. He trained to be an accountant in Windsor Victoria, before joining the RAAF on 4th March 1940. Trained in Victoria on the last RAAF Cadet Course before the introduction of EATS, and commisioned as a Pilot Officer and posted to 23 Sqn at Archerfield in Queensland, where he spent two month before being posted to 3 Sqn in the Middle East on the 1 September 1941. Almost immediately he was sent to 71OTU for conversion onto Tomahawks. 17 Nov 41 - Returned to squadron now located at LG122. 28 Nov 41 - Nicky's first operational mission. 112 Sqn RAF and 3 Sqn escort a Free French Blenhiem squadron to bomb Bir el Arid aerodrome, but no enemy aircraft were encountered. 29 Nov 41 - 3 Sqn carry out a fighter sweep over Tobruk, again not encountering any enemy aircraft. 30 Nov 41 - 112 Sqn and 3 Sqn perform a fighter sweep over Tobruk. Nicky Barr's engine is running rough and he returns to base, missing a large battle with 50 Italian and German aircraft. 9 Dec 41 - 9 Tomahawks of 3 Sqn and 10 from 112 Sqn fly a general sweep of the Tobruk - El Adem area. The two squadrons are bounced by 1/27 JG and go into a defensive circle, which disintergates into a general dogfight. P/O Dave Rutter and Sgt Rex Wilson are both shot down and killed. Nicky Barr chases one 109 but it escapes. 12 Dec 41 - At 1530 hrs 112 Sqn RAF and 3 Sqn took to the air, 18 Tomahawks on a sweep of the Derna area, over Tmimi they spotted a large formation of Axis aircraft and attacked, F/O Barr got a Bf 110 and F/O Gibbes damaged a Ju 87 for the Australians, but two of their Tomahawks collided, P/O Eggleston crashing. 112 Sqn RAF lost P/O Jefferies, Sgt Alves and Sgt Houston, while F/L Humphrey's aircraft was damaged. P/O Bartle claimed a Bf 109 and damaged a MC 202, while two other pilots damaged fighters. (1.0.0) 13 Dec 41 - At 1510 hrs ten Tomahawks set off on a sweep and at 1600 hrs spotted eight Ju 87s and eight escorting Bf 109s west of Tmimi. F/O Barr shot down a Bf 109, while Sgt Cameron also got one and shared a second with F/O Briggs, Sgt Simes claimed a probable and a damaged and F/O Gibbes damaged two. F/O Trimble was shot down but returned safely on the 20th. On the return flight, thirty miles south of Gazala, F/O Barr spotted and shot down a Ju 88. (3.0.0) 01 Jan 42 - Nine Kittyhawks took off to patrol and strafe south of Agedabia. Fifteen miles to the east they encountered sixteen Ju 87s and six Bf 109s about to attack Aliied troops. The Stukas at once jettisoned their bombs and went into a defensive circle as the Kittyhawks dived down for their first combat.F/O Spence claimed a Ju 87 destroyed and a damaged, F/O Barr a Ju 87 destroyed and a probable, F/O Fischer a Ju 87 destroyed and a Bf 109 damaged, Sgt Cameron a Bf 109 destroyed, a probable and a damaged. S/L Chapman is shot down, the first Kittyhawk lost. He was probably the victim of a Ju 87 gunner. (4.1.0) 11 Jan 42 - Ten Kittyhawk of 3 Sqn and ten of 112 Sqn RAF escorted six Blenhiems of 14 Sqn RAF on a bombing raid. Six aircraft on the extra top cover were bounced by three Bf 109s. He attacked two G 50s,shooting down one, before seeing a Bf 109 cause a Kittyhawk to crash land (either Cameron or Jones). He shot down this aircraft before attempting to land and pick up one of the downed Australians. He is bounced by two more Bf 109s, and with his wheels half retracted, shots down one, and damages the other flown by Ofw. Schulz, before crash landing and being straffed and wounded. He walks back to the squadron five days later. (7.1.0) Awarded an immediate DFC. Promoted to Flight Lieutenant.   08 Mar 42 - At 1700 hrs twelve Kittyhawks from 450 Sqn and 3 Sqn, led by F/L Barr, intercepted fifteen Ju 87s with a close escort of nine MC 200 and 202s in a very tight formation made up of two echelons of five and four aircraft, and two Bf109s, overTobruk. The Italians mistook the Kittyhawks for friendly fighters and were slaughtered. P/O Curtiss, F/O Pace, P/O Giddy and F/L Barr of 3 Sqn and Sgt Beste, Sgt McBurnie and Sgt Shaw of 450 Sqn claiming one each. Barr claimed a second as a probable and two damaged, while another probable was claimed by Sgt Dyson of 450 Sqn. P/O Curtiss and Sgt Giddy each claimed a Ju 87. (8.2.2) By the time he had flown 35 operational hours he had already claimed eight victories. 22 May 42 - Twelve Kittyhawks of 3 Sqn with 260 Sqn RAF as close cover and 450 Sqn as top cover carried out a freelance bomber escort as a diversion to the main thrust.Four Bf 109s of I/JG 27 met this formation diving on the top cover and shooting down Sgt Quirk and Sgt Williams thirty miles east of Tmimi. F/L Rose of 450 Sqn claimed a probable Bf 109, while S/L Gibbes and F/L Barr of 3 Sqn each claimed to have destroyed one Bf 109. (9.2.2) 25 May 42 - Force landed behind enemy line as hit engine was overheating. He got the engine covers off, when enemy tanks approached, and he had to hastily take off and return to base without the covers. Promoted to Squadron Leader six months to the day after his first sortie as a Pilot Officer. 28 May 42 - Assumes command of the Squadron. 30 May 42 - At 1445 hrs six fighter-bombers of 250 Sqn RAF with four of 3 Sqn carried out a strafing mission. Attacked by eight Bf 109s and destroyed one before being shot down during fighter bomber attack, returning two days later. (10.2.2) 01 Jun 42 - At 1830 hrs five Kittyhawks of 112 Sqn RAF and six from 3 Sqn were scrambled, meeting four Ju 88s of I/KG 54and four Bf 110s, with an escort of Bf 109s. Four of these fighters from III/JG 53 attacked the Kittyhawks, Lt Quaritsch shooting down P/O Wilson of 112 Sqn RAF in flames, the pilot bailing out and becoming a POW. Ten minutes later Lt Stecher claimed a fighter in flames and Obfw Kronschnabel claimed one as shot up and belly landed, though this claim was not confirmed, a Bf 110 also claimed a Hurricane. Sgt Alderson of 3 Sqn was hit and slightly wounded, his aircraft being damaged, while F/L Barr claimed a Bf 109 and damaged a Bf 110, F/L P Coward and Sgt Neillalso each claimed a Bf 109. (11.2.3) 16 Jun 42 - At 1450 hrs seven Kittyhawks carried out a fighter bomber mission being attacked bt four Bf 109s. Damages one Bf 109. This was just one of six sorties flown by Barr on this day. (11.2.4) 24 Jun 42 - Five Kittyhawks of 3 Sqn set of on a reconnaisance mission over the forward area at 1105 hrs, followed by two Hurricanes of 33 Sqn RAF. Four Bf 109s of II/JG 27 on a 'Freie Jagd' attacked over Maddelena along with G 50s, S/L Barr destroys one G 50. (12.2.4) 26 Jun 42 - At1205 hrs five Kittyhawks from 3 Sqn and other from 112 Sqn RAF are escorting Bostons to Mingar el Amar, again carrying bombs themselves, is bounced and shot down, although badly burnt, he bails out and is captured by the Italian and spent time in Tobruk hospital, was sent to a prison camp in Italy, where he spent five months in hospital at Bergamo, he escaped and had almost reached Switzerland, when he was recaptured and sent to Gavi. After the invasion of Italy, while prisoners were being evacuated from the camp to Germany after the Italian armistice, Barr managed to unfasten the door of the waggon, and after organising the escape of the others with him, he jumped from the train. He soon met one of the others who had injured himself when jumping and after this man had medical attention at San Lorenzo, they both travelled to Monastero. Eight days later, he left his companion and went on to Goriana Valli and here, finding himself too weak to cross the mountains, organised prisoners in the district and helped them escape to Allied lines. Barr was again captured, this time by Alpine troops, and after being ill-treated, was handed over to the Germans, who imprisoned him, with another recaptured escapee, in a prison cell. Discovering the keys in the door on the outside, they managed, with the aide of a piece of wire, to escape and return to Goriana. Here Barr acquired a radio transmitter and continued to help other escape. Towards the end of February 1944 he obtained guides and brought 10 prisoners with him and managed to reach the advanced Allied forces. For this feat he was awarded an MC to add to his DFC and Bar. He returned to Australia, and was promoted to Wing Commander and late in 1944 served in 71 Wing in New Guinea for a short while. From November 1944 to August 1945 he was Chief Instructor at No 2 (Fighter) OTU at Mildura Victoria. Discharged on the 8th October 1945

References:
Australian Air Aces - Dennis Newton
Fighters over the Desert - Christopher Shores and Hans Ring
The RAAF and the Flying Squadrons - Norman Barnes
Nicky Barr, An Australian Air Ace - Peter Dornan
Australian War Memorial - Nominal Roll
 
 

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