Flight Leiutenant Jamie Barr DFC

Born 22 July 1922, Douglas, Lanarkshire.

Joined the RAF 4 Aug 1941.

ITW Torquay, Aug to Dec 1941.

Sailed to South Africa on 1 Jan 1942, docking at Durban 13 Feb.

Spent the following six months training to be an Observer at 45 Air School Oudtshoorn and 43 Air School Port Alfred Gunnery training.

Qualified as Observer on 26 June 1942 after which he was promoted to Sergeant.

Sailed for the UK July 1942 arriving August.

No 10 AFU Dumfries 13 Sept .

Joined 61 Squadron on 6th May 1943 for start of his lst tour of operations.

On 7th May 1944 he left 61 Squadron to become part of Training Command.

Joined 617 at Woodhall Spa on 22nd Apr 1945 . Completed one operation with 617 to Berchtesgarten.

My Crew by Jamie 

The crew came together at No 29 OTU. North Luffenham on the 29th September 1942.

Pilot Sgt Graham.

Navigator Sgt J. Barr.

Bomb Aimer Sgt R.Freeth.

Wireless Op. Sgt Wilcox.

Rear Gunner Sgt E.Walker.

Fate decided we would not stay together.

My bomber crew could claim to hold the record as the crew that took the longest to complete their tour - excluding Wing Commanders or Flight Commanders.

We joined No 61 Squadron on 6 May 1943 and completed our tour and left the squadron on 7 May 1944, having survived both the Battle of the Ruhr and the Battle of Berlin. When we joined the squadron, crews were lucky to survive a tour. Those that did completed it in 3 months.

On the 20 Dec 1942 during OTU flying training an emergency occured which caused the crew to bale out

Jamie recalls:

" We were detailed to carry out a high level practice bombing trip with the pilot and bomb-aimer of another crew and instructor pilot F/O Head. When the pilot did the pre-flight check he reported to the instructor pilot that the aileron was tight, the instructor felt it and said that it was alright.

We took off at 1800 hrs and climbed to 10,000 feet on the way to Whittlesey Bombing Range. I found the wind and gave it to the bomb-aimer. The pilot told the wireless operator to drop the flare over the target. He found that he could not remove it from the stowage position and asked the bomb-aimer to assist him. When it was removed they saw that the aileron multi-strand wire had been trapped and it sheared, the plane immediately went out of control. F/O Head, the instructor pilot went down the plane with a torch but failed to find anything. After making his way back to the cockpit he replaced the pilot and took the controls. He then told the second pilot and bomb-aimer to bale out of the escape hatch behind the main spar, then he told the wireless operator and myself to bale out by shouting in our ears. The bomb-aimer had already gone.

After the instruction to bale out was given there was no panic or shouting, everything was done in an orderly fashion as if it happened every day. I remember floating down under my parachute looking around for a crashed plane.

After landing I collected the parachute, walked from the ploughed field, found a gate to a lane, walked from the field till I came to a row of houses, knocked on the door, a woman opened it and then immediately slammed it in my face, her husband then opened it holding a shotgun, in my best English I said "Royal Air Force", he invited me in, it was Christmas so they gave me a glass of Ginger Wine !!

We all (excluding the rear-gunner and instructor pilot) landed in fields and were taken by the police to March Police station where they put a flag in the ordinance survey map to mark the place that each of us had landed, these flags showed the route of the plane, my pilot had knocked his head and was unconsious and missing so this map showed us all which field he was to be found in.

....The injuries that their pilot received eventually caused him to be deemed medically unfit for flying....

The wireless-operator unfortunately landed in a 40ft Drain and was soaked to the skin, when he got to the Police station he was taken to a room and supplied with a civvy suit which was far too small and everyone burst out laughing when he appeared, the experience must have affected him because he did not fly with us afterwards and we did not know what happened to him.

He was 29 years old, much older than the rest of the crew !

As none of the instructions to bale out had been given over the intercom the first instant that the rear-gunner knew an emergency was occuring was when he saw parachutes passing behind the plane. After seeing four parachutes pass by, and with the aircraft rapiding losing height, he decided it was time to climb out of his turret and go forward to investigate.

"WHO ARE YOU" asked the instructor pilot as he reached his side "GET OUT".

He then returned to his turret, collected his parachute and baled out.

Having no parachute himself the instructor pilot was fighting to maintain control of the plane. As he came accross RAF Wyton the runway was lit up and planes were taking off and landing, fortunately, he managed to land parallel to the runway.

It would seem that the poor old rear-gunner came off worst of all as by the time he baled out the aircraft was so low that he had no chance to control his direction, unfortunately he landed slap bang in the middle of the RAF Wyton WAAF quarters.

HE WAS MISSING FOR THREE DAYS !!!.

We resumed flying training on 4 Feb 1943 with a replacement wireless operator W/O Russell on his second tour

1st op.

It was customary to complete the training at OTU by doing a Nickel trip to France. On 28 Feb 1943 two Wellingtons were detailed to drop leaflets on Clermont Ferand. On returning to the south coast of England, there was 10/10th cloud at 2000ft. and we were not sure of our position having no navigational aids, while the other aircraft was equiped with Gee. Rather than decend through cloud, we called Mayday and RAF Colerne near Bath heard our distress call and coned three searchlights on the cloud base giving us a light in the cloud where we descended and landed. The other plane crashed into a hillside.

1 April 1943 1661 HCU, Winthorpe. Flew in Manchesters and Lancasters.

Flight engineer Sgt G Turnball and mid upper gunner Sgt Chapman joined the crew.

On 26 April 1943 we were engaged on circuits and bumps when an engine caught fire and were forced to land at RAF Swinderby.

6 May 1943 Joined 61 Squadron at Syerston.

The crew had a comparatively uneventful tour. We did everything according to the book. We started weaving 10 miles from the enemy coast. There was no talking except when neccesary and everyone did their job until we landed at base.

Our mid upper gunner Sgt J.Chapman only did one trip with us and went sick never to rejoin our crew.

We then had a number of mid upper gunners P/O Root Reed, W/O R.Braines and Sgt Davey. the pilot was frequently sick and by the middle of August we had only completed 11 operational trips.

On the 22 Aug 1943 their pilot, P/O J.S.Graham was finally declared medically unfit for flying.

P/O Graham had by then completed 10 operations.

........................

F/O N.Turner DFM on his second tour became their new pilot.

F/O Turner was then allocated a newly arrived Lancaster JB 138 QR-J .

The crew christened it "Just Jane".

This aircraft went on to complete 123 trips.

 

Left to right:

George Davy mid upper gunner.

George Turnbull flight engineer.

Jamie Barr navigator

Our next change of crew was caused by our bomb aimer Sgt R.Freeth being medically grounded.

Reg had a very heavy cold when we took part in a raid on Stuttgart on the 7 October 1943. On our return journey we were briefed to fly at 20,000ft during our return, after leaving the French coast and before reaching the English coast, we made a rapid descent to 2,000ft, unfortunately with Reg suffering from a heavy cold, this sudden loss of height caused one of his eardrums to burst.

F/Sgt J.Cook took his place.

27 Aug 1943, Our first operation in "J.J". (8 Ops)

20 Oct 1943 Commisioned Pilot Officer

W/O R.Russell left our crew after the Berlin raid 2 December 1943 having completed his 20 trips for his second tour. Our last 10 trips were shared by two wireless operators F/Lt Dunstone and W/O R.Bunyan.

Possibly the most dangerous experience of our tour was on the night of 21-22 January 1944, when two crews from each of the squadrons in 5 Group were detailed to carry out a spoof raid on Magdeburg while the main force of Bomber Command attacked Berlin. We were one of two crews from 61 Squadron. The plane was hurtling down the runway with the tail up, doing over 100 mph approaching take off. The navigator, who watches the fuel supply red lights positioned on the instrument panel behind his seat on the starboard side saw the two port side engine lights go out. He turned the changeover knob to the alternative fuel tanks but failed to restore the supply. Simultaneously the plane slewed off the runway, while the pilot skilfully kept the plane under contrrol and brought it to a stop on the grass, the flight engineer cut the the other two engines.The pilot and flight engineer tried to restart the two port engines but failed. when the plane was inspected afterwards, the starboard landing wheel axle was found to be sheared through.

Another experience occurred on a raid to a munitions factory at Chateauroux on 10 March 1944 which No 61 Squadron attacked at a height of 10000 ft. It was a lovely night with a full moon. 'Just Jane' had been fitted with half inch cannon in the mid under position and we had W/O Mainwaring as a third gunner. On leaving the target we saw an enemy airfield below so we dived down and strafed it from zero feet then climbed back up to rejoin the squadron.We were coming up below a Lancaster when we heard a voice on the intercom reporting that they were being attacked by a fighter from the starboard quarter below. Our pilot thought they might be referring to us and moved over to the port quarter and a voice said that the fighter had moved over to the port side. We could then clearly see the painting below the pilot's window, and we knew the crew concerned and before he could start firing at us, our wireless operator flashed them with our Aldis lamp and the pilot cancelled the switch that was broadcasting the rear gunner's voice.

When we finished our tour, all members were decorated.

F/Lt N.T.Turner DFC DFM.

F/O Jamie Barr DFC.

F/O G.Turnbull DFC.

F/O Jock Cook DFC.

W/O R.Russell DFC.

F/Sgt Reg Bunyan DFM.

F/O E.Walker DFC.

The crew then split up and went instructing to OTU's.

19 June 1944 Transferred to No 12 OTU Chipping Warden - Instructor.

On the 22 Apr 1945 Jamie received a request for him to join the crew of F/O N.Frost DFC on 617 squadron at Woodhall Spa.

With the war in Europe about to end he completed his one and only daylight operation with 617 to Berchtesg.

Op  Berchtesgarden – Wacchenfels.
0900.25. 15,000' , 1 x Tallboy. Identified primary when directly over it and too late to bomb. Saw s.s. Barracks. Saw no bombs fall on primary. We continued to run and bombed town of Berchtesgarden..

CREW.

F/O N.H.Frost.

Sgt, Bradfield B. G.

F/O F. Barr.

F/O J.S.Cook

F/O L.D. Barnes-Moss.

F/O A. Foreman (Can).

P/O R.R. Langley

Now that the war in Europe had ended 617 played its part in 'Dodge Operations' to quickly return British soldiers home from Italy.

When Bomber Command formed 'Tiger Force' with the intention of concentrating on the war in the Far East. 617, now based at Waddington, became part of this force and was quickly moved to a new base in India. Jamie had different plans so he remained at Waddington.

On 13 Oct 1945 Gwendoline and Jamie married at Nottingham.

After another spell of instructing he was discharged from the RAF on 26 June 1946.

On leaving the RAF he completed his apprentership as engineer. studied Production Engineering. Took his finals at Glasgow Technical College becoming a Member of the Institution of Production Engineers.

He was assistant Manager at General Engineering Company in Glasgow for five years.

In 1955 he was appointed Works Manager with F.W.McConnel Ltd., Ludlow, where he remained for the rest of his working life, becoming Works Director and then top of the tree Managing director.

He retired in 1987.

Gwen and Jamie's daughter, Pauline, was born 9 March 1949 in Belishill, Lanackshire.

They celebrated their Diamond Wedding on 13 Oct 2005 and had a card from the Queen.

Sept 25 1999.

RAF Coningsby.

Both Jamie and Reg Freeth; a fellow crew member, are two of the fortunate few who have flown in the BBMF Lancaster. Aircrew V

I'm certain that they are the envy of all ex-Lancaster Bomber veterans and enthusiasts.

Below:

1998. Reunion of WW11 Just Jane crew members.

Sadly Skipper. F/Lt Turner passed away a sort time before this photo was taken.

L to R:

M-U-G. F/Lt Jim Chapman DFC. 15 ops in Just Jane.

R-G.  F/Lt Eric Walker DFC. 16 ops in J.J.

B-A.   W/O Reg Freeth. 6 ops in J.J.

W-O-P. W/O Reg Bunyon DFM. 15 ops.

F-Eng. F/Lt George Turnbull DFC, 16 ops in J.J.

B-A.  F/Lt Jock Cook Dr. DFC. 10 ops in J.J.

Nav. F/Lt Jamie Barr. DFC. 16 ops in J.J.

 

 

 

 

 2010 Reunion

Jamie and his wife,Gwen, with their daughter, Pauline.

Fellow crew member Reg Freeth and Jamie