Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1944, Flying Officer Cyril Joe Barton V.C., No. 578 Squadron, the Royal Air Force, died from injuries sustained during a forced landing after an attack on Nuremberg.
After leaving school he studied at the Kingston-upon-Thames Technical College and then apprenticed as a draughtsman at the Parnall Air Factor Works in Tolworth. He enlisted with the R.A.F. in April of 1941, at the age of nineteen, was promoted to Leading Aircraftman in November, and was then sent to the U.S. for pilot training. Flying Officer Barton returned to England a year later as a Sergeant Pilot. He joined No. 19 OTU at Kinloss in Morayshire in May of 1943 and began making selections for his future bomber crew.
By September he had undertaken several operational sorties over Germany, and during that month he was promoted to Flight Sergeant and then commissioned as a Pilot Officer. The following January he and his crew moved to 578 Squadron. In March he made his fourth raid on Berlin, and another raid on Essen, and on the night of the 30th set out for an attack on Nuremberg – the nineteenth sortie of his career, and for which he would be awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.
Seventy miles from the target, his Handley Page Halifax bomber was attacked by two night fighters – the radio and rear turret were disabled, intercom lines cut, two fuel tanks punctured, and the starboard inner engine was on fire. Three of his crew bailed out, a signal having been misinterpreted, so Flying Officer Barton was left with no navigator, bombardier or wireless operator. He nevertheless carried on with the remaining three crew members and released the bombs himself. As he reached England on the journey home, he ran out of fuel – determined not to crash into the house and pit head workings of the village of Ryhope, near Sunderland, he made a forced landing. The three crew members survived, but Flying Officer Barton died from his injuries soon after being pulled from the wreckage.
He is buried in the Bonner Hill Road Cemetery in Kingston-upon-Thames. In his last letter to his younger brother, he wrote: "I am quite prepared to die, death hold no terrors for me. I have done nothing to merit glory.”
Cyril, from Elveden in Suffolk, was 22 years old.