Dambuster of the Day No. 101: Jack Barrett

Barrett PH

Pic: Peter Humphries

Flg Off J K Barrett DFC

Lancaster serial number: ED910/G

Call sign: AJ-C

Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.

Jack Kenneth Barrett was born in Hackney, London, on 9 September 1920, the only child of David and Ethel Barrett. He joined the RAF in 1940, and was sent to South Africa for training as a navigator. On qualification, he was awarded a commission. On arriving back in the UK, he was sent for further training and then posted to 207 Squadron in February 1942, at the same time as wireless operator Jack Guterman, with whom he shared an interest in the arts and cinema. In June 1942 they both joined the crew of pilot Flt Sgt Anthony Walters, which flew on its first ‘gardening’ operation to the Deodars area on 3 June 1942. The pair flew on some nineteen operations together until September, when Walters was transferred out. Barrett and Guterman were then posted to a conversion unit.

In November, they returned to 207 Squadron, now in a new crew skippered by Bill Ottley. Flight engineer Ron Marsden, bomb aimer Tommy Johnston and gunners Fred Tees and Harry Strange were also all posted to 207 Squadron at about the same time. This was the same crew who would fly on the Dams Raid six months later. The crew went on to fly on some twenty more operations between December 1942 and March 1943, although Barrett was absent for about a month, perhaps through illness. By the end of March 1943, he had reached the end of his tour and could have opted for a training position for a period. He was also recommended for a DFC, the citation for which read:

Flying Officer Barrett has invariably displayed a high standard of navigation during operational flights. His good work has contributed to the success of the operations in which he has participated. On one occasion, when returning from a raid on Saarbrucken, one engine failed when leaving the target area and a second failed when over the French coast. Although the situation appeared desperate for a time, Flying Officer Barrett continued to give cool and effective navigational directions which greatly assisted the captain in landing the bomber safely. Throughout his operational career, this officer has displayed exceptional skill, courage and devotion to duty.

Unfortunately the award did not come through before Jack Barrett set off on the Dams Raid shortly after midnight on the morning of 17 May 1943. Within three hours he was dead, shot down near Hamm.

Jack Barrett and his comrades were originally buried by the Germans in Hamm, but were reinterred after the war in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

More about Barrett online:
Entry at Commonwealth War Graves Commission

KIA 17.05.43

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Further information about Jack Barrett and the other 132 men who flew on the Dams Raid can be found in my book The Complete Dambusters, published by History Press in 2018.

2 thoughts on “Dambuster of the Day No. 101: Jack Barrett

  1. richardfarrington April 2, 2015 / 8:34 am

    I find myself looking at the pictures of the crews and see them all staring with what looks to me like a disturbing awareness of their mortalityand a kind of dogged melancholy in their eyes. No doubt they were painfully aware of the statistics, through lost friends and the likelyhood that they would not survive for long eventually being taken by the explosive nature of their work The photographs taken ‘for the record’ must have made them even more aware of their transience; looking out at the camera and future generations; I wonder if they ‘knew’ and whether that shows in their eyes; in a way of course they knew. I must go through your blogs and see if anything looks different with airmen who survived the war.

  2. f88volvo April 7, 2015 / 1:51 pm

    These airmen were so brave and so young.RIP.

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