The last segment covered 1918 and his shooting down an enemy ace, being promoted to Major and having the thrill and responsibility of taking the Prince of Wales, who had just been assigned duties in Italy, for an air view deep into enemy lines. The year also saw George being awarded his third Mentions in Dispatch, the Distinguished Service Order, a 2nd bar to his Military Cross, a second DSO, the highest award that the King of France could award and the same for Italy. In fact the King of Italy awarded two of them to George.
I wonder if he had to declare the extra weight of all these medals when boarding his craft for these missions. (hehe) Missions in which he repeated shot done more and more enemy planes and balloons. Kills officially totalling 42, but unofficially much higher.
In the Fall of 1918 George was ordered back to London to take charge of a fighter pilot training centre a dozen miles west of London. For the 2nd time in his career he was so appointed and managed to wiggle out of it. He reported for duty but argued that with the latest developments in the air, he was needed in the air to see what was going on, and thus better able to instruct the new recruits.
The brass were convinced and off to the Western Front George was sent for a few weeks. And this time he was taking along the latest British development in planes. It was called a SNIPE and was made by the Sopwith firm who had made the Camels. And it had the best of all Camel abilities and much more and was a match for whatever he came across. In fact, per usual, George knocked even more planes out of the sky over France. His kill total now was at 46 German and Austrian planes and 9 balloons. In late October George was again ordered back to England to resume duties at the flight training center.
Having shipped all of his goods back to London, he took his plane up for one last look at the area, some 150 miles north east of Paris and at place called La Foret de Mormal France. Flying at about 22,000 feet above the ground he spotted an enemy observation plane. He gave chase and a fight ensued with the enemy getting shot down. But in the process another enemy craft came up behind George and strafed his craft with powerful cannon fire that sent George into a dive. He passed out but came to by onrushing air, pulled out of the dive, caught up with the enemy again and sent another the ground ablaze.
But by spiralling down he ended up in the midst of about 60 enemy planes who immediately started to fire their cannons at him. He shot two more down and went again into a downward spin, passed out again, again came to and charged after the closest enemy and shot him down but because of so much damage to the plane George was going down also... and fast.
Heading towards his base he came across a fleet of enemy planes and soared through them, shooting yet another down and dispersing the rest in all directions. But he was only a few thousand feet off the ground and still going down, managing to finally just clear some tree tops he brought the plane...at full speed... to a crash. It flipped over and George was pulled free... alive but with many wounds The entire battle was witnessed by thousands of friendly forces including Canada's own General Andrew McNaughton.
George was rushed to a hospital about 90 miles north west of Paris where he remained unconscious for several days. He would received acknowledgements for his heroism from the Prime Ministers of Canada and England, the King and Prince of Wales and others including his flying comrade... Lt Col Billy Bishop VC
In November of 1918 Canada's George, from Alberta, who's complete name was William George Barker, was awarded the British Empire's highest medal for bravery... the Victoria Cross.
If you laid all of his bravery medals out, here is what they would look like...
Having said this, here is an image of George's actual medal group...
In the Spring of 1919 George was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and later that year returned to Canada where he joined up in a business with Billy Bishop, flying tourists out of the Toronto harbour airport. But business failed and he then went back to military duties as an attaché in England with the Air Force.
He then returned to work in the tobacco industry in Ontario for a few years before becoming an executive with the Fairchild Aviation Company at Montreal.
In March of 1930 he was demonstrating a new Fairchild plane when he took it for a steep dive over Ottawa and the engine stalled bringing the plane to a crash and instantly killing the British Empire's most medalled hero.
Here is Lt. Col Barker's London Gazette account of his heroism and the awarding of the Victoria Cross...
For more information there is quite a lot of information on the net on this man. Just Google his name.
I expect to be away from my computer on Friday, and thus the next blog will be probably on Saturday, but check on Friday as plans often change.