Combat report of the aerial battle that resulted in William Barker receiving the Victoria Cross.

The author of the report was Major Cyril M. Leman, the commanding officer of the squadron to which Barker chose to attach himself for the duration of his roving commission. The two men had been friends since 1916, when Barker had been a green observer and Leman was his pilot. They were dinner companions in the Officer's Mess during those last ten days in France. The author of the official history of the air war, H. A. Jones, was careful to note that it was this commanding officer, not Barker, who had written the combat report. It is unclear when the report was written and filed. It is worth quoting Wayne Ralph at some length on this matter: "The combat report is breathtakingly dramatic and detailed. But was it Barker who provided all the facts? Who else could have known that one of the airmen in the two-seater had bailed out? ... It was not uncommon in the First World War for citations to be written for heroes who had been taken prisoner or were unconscious or deceased. Leman at some point presumably interviewed Barker in hospital. But it is also possible that he wrote the combat report before talking to him, relying on unidentified witnesses, and with the tacit support of his superiors at HQ. ..."

...8.25 a.m. Observed enemy two-seater at 21,000 feet N. E. of Forêt de Mormal. Enemy aircraft climbed east and Major Barker following fired a short burst from underneath at point-blank range. Enemy aircraft broke up in the air and one of the occupants jumped with a parachute. He then observed a Fokker biplane 1,000 feet below stalling and shooting at him, one of the bullets wounding him in the right thigh. He fell into a spin from which he pulled out in the middle of a formation of about 15 Fokkers, two of which he attacked indecisively, both enemy aircraft spinning down. He turned, and getting on the tail of a third which was attacking him shot it down in flames from within 10 yards range. At this moment he was again wounded in the left thigh by others of the formation who were diving at him. He fainted and fell out of control again. On recovering he pulled his machine out and was immediately attacked by another large formation of 12 to 15 enemy aircraft. He got on the tail of one and from a range of less than 5 yards shot it down in flames. At this moment he received a third wound from the remainder of the formation who were attacking him, the bullet shattering his left elbow. The enemy machine which wounded him closed to within 10 yards. He again fainted and fell out of control to 12,000 feet, and recovering was at once attacked by another large formation of enemy aircraft. He then noticed heavy smoke coming from his machine and, under the impression he was on fire, tried to ram a Fokker just ahead of him. He opened fire on it from 2 to 3 yards range and enemy aircraft fell in flames. He then dived to within a few thousand feet of the ground and began to fly towards our lines, but found his retreat was cut off by another formation of 8 enemy aircraft who attacked him. He fired a few bursts at some of them and shaking them off dived down and returned to our lines a few feet above the ground, finally crashing close to one of our balloons...' [1]

[1] Vol VI p 542-3 of Jones, H. A. The War in the Air-- Being the part played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928-37