John Samuel Barker was born in the June quarter of 1918 in the Wrexham Registration District (Wrexham County Borough (Wrexham) WM/159/28). He was the son of Herbert & Mary Barker (nee Bannister) who had married in the Parish Church at Gwersyllt on the 7th November 1898. Herbert, 25 and a bachelor, was a Collier and his address was Cross Street, his father’s name was Mark Baugh, Collier & Mary Bannister, 20, spinster also living at Cross Street, her father was John Bannister, Collier. They married after Banns. Their Witnesses were George Prydden and Sarah Jane Prydden.
They are seen on the 1901 census living at Llay Hall Colliery Houses, Gwersyllt and it is this source that tell us where Herbert was born, he is head of the household, 26 and a Coal Hewer and he was born in Preston, Lancashire. Mary his wife was 19 and had been born in Wrexham, Denbighshire, as had their daughter, Hannah, age 6 months.
By 1911 they were still living at Llay Hall, but at 4, Llay Hall Cottages, the head of the household was Mary’s father John Bannister age 60 and a widower, he was a Labourer (Surface) and had been born in Rossett, Denbighshire. Herbert Barker, 36 was his son-in-law tell us that he had been married for 12 years and was a Coal Miner and confirms his place of birth as Preston, Lancs. Mary Barker, 36 and John’s daughter, tells us that 7 children had been born and 2 had sadly died. The grandchildren of John Bannister were Hannah, 10, Florrie, 6, Edward, 4, Elsie, 2 and Charles, 9 months, they had all been born in Gwersyllt.
I do not know about John Samuel’s early and teen years, so any help would be appreciated. However I found his record on the Hawarden Grammar School admission Register: –
Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10
1294/2042 BARKER, John Samuel born 21st April 1918. 3, Alyndale Terr., Cefn y bedd. Father – Miner, Former School, Abermorddu Council. Scholarship – £6. T. Reg., Dinnas (or Dinners?) M.O., Gas Meely? 1933. Date of leaving – 13th November 1935 – Engineering Works, Chester.
The family were to suffer bereavement before they were to lose John Samuel in 1944. His sister Florrie May was to die in 1921, age 16 years, her burial on the 20th June gave her address as Cefn-y-bedd, this was in the Gwersyllt Parish Registers. John would have been about 3 years old then.
In 1939, on the 29th September, a National Register was taken and I believe that Herbert & Mary were living at 3 Alendale Terrace , Wrexham, Denbighshire. This source tell us the date of birth of birth and occupation etc. Herbert Barker had been born on the 2nd February 1874 and was a Coal Miner Retired (Hewer), his wife Mary had been born on the 5th July 1881and as most women on this register who did not have a job was described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties .” A George A. Barker had been born on the 19th May 1920 and was single and a Brickworks Labourer, Heavy Worker. Also in the household, was James Conlin, he had been born on the 24th December 1931 and was “At School.”
John Samuel was not on the National Register with his family so it may be that John Samuel was already in the R.A.F., and possibly stationed in Scotland, as we know that he met his future wife, Jean Paterson F. Lightbody. On the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Citation, it states that Jean was living in Scotstoun, Glasgow after his death. He married Jean at the Bethlehem English Chapel at Cefn y Bedd on the 31st January 1942. The marriage is registered at Hawarden as a Civil Ceremony, but I know from my own marriage that if it was in a Chapel, it would need the Superintendent Registrar to be in attendance, therefore making it a Civil Ceremony. (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/16/16).
I believe that Jean Paterson F. Lightbody was born in 1917, in Camlachie, near Glasgow, Scotland, her birth certificate would have to be purchased to confirm/deny, (Ref. No. 644/2 1054), as would their marriage certificate. (Scotstoun is about 7.4 miles from Calmachie). Website for her birth certificate below: –
Jean may well have been down here for work, indeed could have been part of our defence forces. Any help would be appreciated.
However, John Samuel was to be in 272 Squadron and on the 6th April 1944 he found himself in a group of 4 Beau aircraft on a Sortie:-
John Samuel and Squadron Leader Demoulin, Rene Jean Ghislain were flying “H” Beau* X.LZ.488 on an Anti-Flak Escort to Shipping Strike, taking off at 11.20 on the 6th April 1944 from Alghero**, one of 4.
*Beau – Bristol Beaufighter
**A town on the northwest coast of Sardinia, Italy.
This is what is written in the Operational Records of 272 Squadron, of which I have a copy: –
“4 Beaus escort to R.P. Beaus of No. 39 Squadron. Sighted 1 M.V. 1200 yons in position 4235 N. 0306 E. As the ship had Red Cross markings it was not attacked by our aircraft. Aircraft “H” made an attack on a small vessel 2 miles N.E. of the M.V. No strikes were seen but other aircraft saw a third part of the starboard wing of “H” break off and “H” crashed into the sea. Nothing was seen of the crew, S/L. DEMOULIN and F/S. BARKER. There were no other incidents and the other three aircraft returned to Base after “D” had searched the area for survivors, without result. Weather fine, sea very glassy.”
The other aircraft landed at 14.50.
Also killed with John Samuel was Squadron Leader DEMOULIN, RENE JEAN GHISLAIN, Service Number 116107, Died 06/04/1944, Aged 23, Croix Chevalier de L’Ordre de Leopold avec Palme; Croix de Guerre avec Palme et Lion. Son of Alphonse and Jeanne Demoulin, of Comblain-au-Pont, Liege, Belgium. Commemorated at MALTA MEMORIAL, Location: Malta, Number of casualties: 2294, Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 12, Column 2.
Many thanks to the website below: -.
Wreck Site – Beaufighter LZ488 (+1944) Read more at wrecksite: https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?221689 (Translated from the website)
On April 6, 1944, at 11:20 a.m., a group of 8 Bristol Beaufighter X (4 aircraft from the 272th Squadron free patrol and 4 aircraft from the 39th Squadron) took off from the Alghero base in Sardinia, for an area mission between the Cap Leucate and Cap Creus. During the overflight of a freighter, while the aircraft of the 39th Squadron observe the boat, the aircraft piloted by the leading squadron René Demoulin and the navigator John Samuel Barker, pick up and attack the freighter (it is the Swedish ship Embla , which will sink a few days later following another air attack). Following its initial gust, the Bristol Beaufighter’s wing exploded and its engine caught fire. Become uncontrollable, it stings (stalls?), collides with the mast of a small fishing vessel, and is damaged in the waves. the device was rated “H”, serial LZ.488
On the website https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_shipwrecks_in_April_1944 there is more on the Swedish ship “Embla” where it says that the Beaufighter LZ488 attacked the Red Cross Ship, in contrast to the R.A.F. Operational Report, above, where it states that they did not attack the Red Cross ship as it was marked so. The Embla sank on the 19th April 1944, but all 21 crew survived.
No. 272 Squadron RAF – Reformation in World War II
The squadron reformed on 19 November 1940 at RAF Aldergrove*. It received Blenheims and then converted to Beaufighters. It was then based in Crete to provide protection for convoys and at Luqa, Malta and Sicily following Operation Husky. On 8 September 1944, the Italian liner SS Rex was attacked by twelve 272 Squadron Beaufighters at Capodistria Bay, south of Trieste, leaving her on fire and badly listing. As the Allied forces advanced into Italy the squadron moved to Alghero and Foggia, and it disbanded at Gragnano on 30 April 1945.
*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Helicopter_Command_Flying_Station_Aldergrove – Joint Helicopter Command Flying Station Aldergrove – Scroll down to Second World War.
John Samuel was sadly missed by his family and young widow, they had only been married just over 2 years. They made sure he was remembered by adding his name to the Hawarden Grammar School Roll of Honour. Herbert Barker, died, I believe, in the December quarter of 1953 ( Denbighshire Vol. 8a Page 390) and also Mary Barker , I believe, died in the June quarter of 1954. (Wrexham Vol. 8a Page 426).
The Roll of Honour was dedicated at Hawarden Grammar School on the 3rd February 1951 with a Remembrance Service for the 47* former pupils who died in the 1939 – 1945 World War. As recorded in the Chester Chronicle Saturday 10th February 1951.
*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.