Barton, Cyril Joe

Personal Information

Rank F/O
Forename(s) Cyril Joe
Surname Barton
Gender M
Age 22
Decorations VC
Date of Death 31-03-1944
Next of Kin Son of Frederick J. Barton and Ethel Barton, of New Malden.

Aircraft Information

Aircraft Handley Page Halifax III
Serial Number LK797
Markings LK-E

Memorial Information

Burial/Memorial Country United Kingdom
Burial/Memorial Place Kingston-Upon-Thames Cemetery
Grave Reference Class C. (Cons.) Grave 6700.
Ribbon Stone 0421

IBCC Memorial Information

Phase 2
Panel Number 127

Enlistment Information

Service Number 168669
Service Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Group 4
Squadron 578
Trade Pilot
Country of Origin United Kingdom

Miscellaneous Information

Posthumously awarded the VC for his efforts in saving the other crew members. He was the only Halifax pilot to be awarded this honour. This was his 19th operational sortie, four of which were over Berlin
VC Citation (London Gazette 27th June 1944): "On the night of 30th March, 1944, Pilot Officer Barton was captain and pilot of a Halifax aircraft detailed to attack Nurenberg. When some 70 miles short of the target, the aircraft was attacked by a Junkers 88. The burst of fire from the enemy made the intercommunication system useless. One engine was damaged when a Messerschmitt 210 joined in the fight. The bomber's machine guns were out of action and the gunners were unable to return the fire. Fighters continued to attack the aircraft as it approached the target area and, in the confusion caused by the failure of the communications system at the height of the battle, a signal was misinterpreted and the navigator, air bomber and wireless operator left the aircraft by parachute. Pilot Officer Barton faced a situation of dire peril. His aircraft was damaged, his navigational team had gone and he could not communicate with the remainder of the crew. If he continued his mission, he would be at the mercy of hostile fighters when silhouetted against the fires in the target area, and if he survived he would have to make a 4 1/2 hours journey home on three engines across heavily-defended territory. Determined to press home his attack at all costs, he flew on and, reaching the target, released the bombs himself. As Pilot Officer Barton turned for home the propeller of the damaged engine, which was vibrating badly, flew off. It was also discovered that two of the petrol tanks had suffered damage and were leaking. Pilot Officer Barton held to his course and, without navigational aids and in spite of strong head winds, successfully avoided the most dangerous defence areas on his route. Eventually he crossed the English coast only 90 miles north of his base. By this time the petrol supply was nearly exhausted. Before a suitable landing place could be found, the port engine stopped. The aircraft was now too low to be abandoned successfully. Pilot Officer Barton therefore ordered the three remaining members of his crew to take up their crash stations. Then, with only one engine working, he made a gallant attempt to land clear of the houses over which he was flying. The aircraft finally crashed and Pilot Officer Barton lost his life, but his three comrades survived. Pilot Officer Barton had previously taken part in four attacks on Berlin and 14 other operational missions. On one of these two members of his crew were wounded during a determined effort to locate the target despite the appalling weather conditions.In gallantly completing his last mission in the face of almost impossible odds, this officer displayed unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty."
The miner's name was George Heads. He had been cycling to work at the pit in Ryhope when the air raid sirens sounded. Knowing that his wife was a hard of hearing he decided to double back and make sure she was safe and in doing so he was struck by the tailplane of the aircraft and killed. He was greatly missed in the community as he was a kind and gentle man.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The National Archives

Fellow Servicemen

Last Operation Information

Start Date 30-03-1944
End Date 30-03-1944
Takeoff Station Burn
Day/Night Raid Night
Operation Nuremberg. 795 aircraft, 95 losses (11.9%)- the highest of any raid. High-cloud was expected to offer protection to the bomber stream but the target would be clear for the bombing run. A Mosquito meteorological flight had predicted that in fact that would not be the case, but the raid went ahead anyway. The German controller ignored the diversionary raids and had his fighters circling close to the route of the main force, using Tame Boar tactics. Consequently, the fighters engaged the bombers before they reached the Belgian border. The clear conditions allowed the fighters to pick off bombers at will with 82 of the 95 bombers being Lost on the outbound leg. Strong winds meant that some of the bombers went off the intended route and as a consequence many bombed Schweinfurt in error, some 50 miles from Nuremberg. The problem as exacerbated by two PFF aircraft dropping markers in Schweinfurt. Overall, the raid was a failure and little damage was caused.
Reason for Loss Very badly attacked by a night-fighter. Three crew baled out in the ensuing confusion but even without a navigator and bomb aimer, Cyril Barton decided to press on to the target at all costs and upon arrival at the aiming point, released the bombs himself. Despite the level of damage to his machine he was able to regain the English coast but ran out of fuel and before he was able to find an emergency landing ground and knowing that they were too low for the three remaining crew to bale out, he ordered them to take up their crash positions and made a gallant attempt to land the aircraft. He crash-landed the aircraft near Ryhope Colliery, Country Durham, killing himself and a young miner on his way to work. The other three crew members survived, thanks to the Cy Barton's bravery.

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Casualty Pack

IBCC is delighted to introduce a unique facility to link the Losses Database to the relevant RAF Casualty Pack on the National Archives website. This project is the result of on-going collaboration between IBCC, the MOD Records Office and National Archives, Kew. This document describes what Casualty Packs are, when they were created, the process of making them available to the public and then goes on to describe the process by which you can view the contents of the packs. Casualty Packs (CPs) were created by the RAF whenever there was serious injury or loss of life associated with operational activity within the RAF. This includes operational flying losses, enemy action due to air raids, road accidents either on station or even off-station if they involved RAF vehicles. Deaths due to natural causes in service or accidents that did not involve RAF vehicles did not generally give rise to a CP.

CPs were originally given a unique reference number by the RAF. Each begins with the letter ‘P’ and is followed by six digits, then an oblique (forward slash) and the finally the year in which the incident took place- for example P396154/42.

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Once CPs arrive at National Archives they are assigned a unique AIR81 number, so each CP has both a P-number and an AIR81 number. Both are searchable on the National Archives website under ‘Search the catalogue’ and both are included on the IBCC website.

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