An interview with Butch Barton
Robert Alexander Barton was born on 7th June 1916 at Kamloops, British Columbia. He travelled to England to take up a RAF short service commission in January 1936. Following the outbreak of war he joined the newly-formed No 249 Squadron. Barton, known as ‘Butch’, was flight commander of the Hurricane-equipped No 249 Squadron from 14th August 1940. He was immediately in action, and the following day shot down a Me110 and damaged a second. Over the next three weeks, Barton’s successes mounted. On 3rd September, now flying from North Weald in Essex, his Hurricane was hit by return fire from a Dornier bomber and he was forced to bale out. When his CO was wounded, Barton led the squadron into battle during the most hectic phase of the Luftwaffe’s onslaught, sometimes flying four times in a single day. On 15th September, the day of the greatest air battle, he shot down a Dornier bomber over the Thames Estuary and damaged a second. By the end of the Battle of Britain he was awarded a DFC for his “outstanding leadership”.
In December 1940 Barton took command of 249 Squadron, and destroyed two more enemy fighters. In 1941 his squadron was ordered to Malta. Barton opened his account in Malta on 3rd June, when he shot down an Italian bomber, the squadron’s first victory over the island. Five days later he destroyed another bomber, this time at night. On 22nd November he achieved his final victory when he shot down a Macchi MC202 fighter near Gozo. He received a Bar to the DFC. On his return to Canada he lived a quiet life. He was regarded as one of the region’s finest fly fishermen. “Butch” Barton died on 2nd September 2010. Age 94.