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From Berlin Airlift to tea with Churchill.

Byline: James Rothwell Reporter

DAVID Barton always knew that his father, Thomas, was a war hero.

But it wasn't until he discovered an RAF logbook while cleaning his house that he realised just how remarkable his father's life was. Thomas Barton's 114 Squadron logbook was a meticulously detailed account of the trials and terrors of World War II, his son discovered.

David, 58, an Associate Professor of Nursing at Swansea University, said: "We were tidying up the house a few months ago and there was this logbook there, so I suddenly unearthed all the flights and attacks he went on. It was quite extraordinary, really."

One entry, written on December 27 1942, reads: "OPERATION Roads near Tunis, Heavy Cloud Crashed circling Drone. Observer Killed, Pilot Injured. Self Uninjured."

The log also recounts Mr Barton's air tests, dusk landings and even a crash landing in a Biseley 746 aircraft near Feltwell, Norfolk on October 27. Mr Barton lost his best friend Ken during the war after a bombing run went wrong, his son David said.

He said: "The aircraft crashed on landing and Ken was split down the middle, literally, while my dad walked out of it with virtually no injuries."

But he went on to take part in the Berlin Airlift, attend the Nuremberg trials, and even have tea with Winston Churchill in Parliament.

David Barton said: "My father was an enigmatic man in many ways and he didn't talk about his war experiences at all because he had some very difficult experiences. But there were a few things he shared.

"You used to hear the funny stories about him getting drunk. They would shave hot cross buns across the top of their heads and then get in trouble on parade.

"But then the other side of all that fun was that these men were getting into aircraft and doing what they did. He once talked about how they would be sent out to go and collect body parts, which were of course scattered widely after an attack.

"After the war, he was asked to be involved in organising the Berlin Airlift. He actually flew in the airlift, and he met with Winston Churchill in the House of Commons. He had tea with him because he had been put forward to organise the airlift and make sure none of the supplies, such as food, were cut off.

"He was also invited to attend the Nuremberg trials after the war as a guest, so he was here as it happened."

Thomas Barton began life as an orphan in Australia and rose to the rank of Squadron Leader in his RAF career, his son revealed. But he was deeply affected by the terrible things he had seen during World War II.

David Barton said: "After the war, my father had what was called a breakdown, but what we now would refer to as PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

Thomas Barton passed away aged 65 from Alzheimer's disease, but shortly after his death his son made another discovery - though raised in Australia, his father was a Welshman. "We knew my father was an orphan in Australia, but he talked very little about his young life. We then discovered his birth certificate after his death, and it turns out he was born in North Wales."


War hero Thomas Barton in uniform and, inset, with his best friend Ken War hero Thomas Barton in uniform and, inset, with his best friend Ken

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Nov 12, 2014
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