John Lancashire Barlow (killed in
23rd September, 1917)
Barlow was the son of Alexander and Sophie Barlow of Wivenhoe Hall,
Wivenhoe. He was very fond of
shooting and a good shot at an age when many children are still in nursery
school. So when war was
declared on the 4th August 1914 it was therefore perhaps not
much of a surprise that John, like so many others enlisted into the Army.
joined the 8th Essex Cyclist Corps, which was part of the Essex
Regiment, and became a despatch rider and served with that regiment until
December 1914, when he had to leave the Army.
reason, well he’d been just a little bit naughty! Because John had been just fifteen years of age when he
of the Army and out of the war John pursued his interest in aviation.
Being much under age, he went to Bournemouth Aviation School, where
he took his pilots certificate. He
was still too young to rejoin the Army, so he continued his study of
aviation by joining the Wells Aviation Factory.
the turned eighteen, John joined the Royal Flying Corps and was
commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.
His military flying training was rapid, with John taking a month to
qualify for his pilot wings, which were presented to him in April 1917.
John went to war for a second time, not on a bike, but this time in an
aeroplane. Not the sleek jet fighters that we see today, nor the famous
Spitfire and Hurricane of World War II fame, but biplanes such as the
Sopworth Pup or BE2. Planes
which if you look at their pictures have an open cockpit and look rather
like they’re held together with sellotape, paper and string.
would have been exposed to the wind and the rain, as well as oil from his
own engine. So each time he
flew, he would have wrapped himself up in gloves, coat, goggles, scarf and
flying helmet, it wouldn’t have been particularly comfortable!
in 1917 the planes were much better than those used at the start of the
war, this was still the early days of military flying and it would have
been quite a task just to keep the plane in the air, let alone find time
to fight the enemy.
was sent to the front and took part in the Battle of Messines, and many
other fights over the skies of France and Belgium.
It is reported that he took a good toll of enemy machines and was a
brilliant pilot, popular with both his fellow officers and the enlisted
was killed while flying over France with 40 Squadron RFC, on 23rd
September, 1917. It is said
that in the fatal dogfight John took on six enemy aeroplanes, before his
plane was forced into a nosedive.
his bravery John was Mentioned in Despatches.
John had died, his Brigadier General wrote the following message to
John’s father “No loss experienced by us this summer has been more
regretted than that of your son. He
was so gallant and cheerful that his example will always be remembered by
those that knew him”.
Barlow is buried in the Bruay Communal Cemetery near Arras in Pas de
Calais Department of France, and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial
in St Mary's Churchyard, Wivenhoe.
We will remember them "
and written by Darrin Keeble, November, 2002