Cyril Joe Barton : biography
Cyril Joe Barton VC (5 June 1921 – 31 March 1944) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Barton Green in New Malden, Surrey, where he had attended Beverley Boys School, was named in his honour during the early 1950s and Barton Road at the Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, North Yorkshire was named in his honour, on the 46th anniversary of his death. A housing estate in Ryhope, Barton Park, was also named after him, while a nearby street was named Halifax Place, after the bomber he flew. Kingston College, which Barton attended, also offers an annual prize for the student of the year, which is named after him.
A painting in his memory hangs in the Wheatsheaf pub at Burn, North Yorkshire where 578 Squadron was once based.
Cyril Barton volunteered for aircrew duties and joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, RAFVR on 16 April 1941, qualifying as a Sergeant Pilot 10 November 1942. He then trained at No. 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit at Rufforth, Yorkshire. On 5 September 1943, Barton and his crew joined no.78 squadron, and Barton was commissioned as a Pilot Officer three weeks later. Undertaking their first operational sortie against Montlucon, Barton completed 9 sorties with No.78 squadron until 15 January 1944, and was then posted to No.578 Squadron at Burn in North Yorkshire. Their second sortie with the new squadron was to Stuttgart in Halifax LK797 (codename LK-E). By 30 March 1944, they had completed 6 sorties in LK797 - which the crew had named "Excalibur".
On 30 March 1944 in an attack on Nuremberg, Germany and while from the target, Pilot Officer Barton's Handley Page Halifax bomber (serial LK797) was badly damaged by two night fighters, and two fuel tanks were punctured, both the radio and rear turret disabled, the starboard inner engine was on fire and the intercom lines were cut. Despite several determined attacks by a Junkers Ju 88 night fighter, and with the aid of his crew, Barton managed to avoid further attacks. A misinterpreted signal resulted in three of the crew bailing out, and Barton was left with no navigator, bombardier or wireless operator. He pressed on with the attack however, releasing the bombs himself. On the return journey as he crossed the English coast the fuel ran out and with only one engine working he crashed trying to avoid the houses and pit head workings of the village of Ryhope, near Sunderland. He was pulled alive from the wreckage but died before reaching the hospital. One miner died, when he was hit by part of the crippled plane, but the remaining three crew members survived.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, London
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