Episode 147 – George Barclay

Guest: George Barclay

Hosts: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 6th of June 2010

Released:  26th of May 2017

Duration: 1 hour  44 minutes 59 seconds

George Barclay joined the Territorial Army early in 1939 as a 15 year old, having put his age up to 19. When the war broke out he and his unit were mobilised and he became a regular New Zealand Army soldier. However he hated the Army lifestyle and in 1940 he volunteered to switch to the Royal New Zealand Air Force. In 1941 he was among the first RNZAF trainees to go to Canada where he flew the Cessna Cranes at Saskatoon. He remembers a very close scrape with tragedy there.

On arrival in Britain he underwent an Operational Training Unit course on Handley Page Hampdens and Vickers Wellingtons, before he was eventually posted to No.  142 Squadron, then No. 150 Squadron at RAF Kirmington, flying Wellington 1C’s before he was commissioned and the authorities discovered his true age, so he was taken off operations for months till he was old enough for ops.

He was returned to operations with No. 106 Squadron which was flying the Avro Manchester, but he managed to avoid flying this type  on operations and was again posted to No. 166 Squadron back on Wellingtons.

On the night of the 8/9 April 1943 George and his crew were forced to bale out of their stricken Wellington over France, having been hit over Duisberg and losing the engines. This was George’s second parachute descent from a Wellington, and he describes both in detail.

He was taken as a Prisoner of War by the Germans and after interrogation at Dalag Luft he was sent to Stalag Luft 1 near Barth, Western Pomerania, Germany.

During 1944 he was sent on to Stalag XI-B at  Fallingbostel in Lower Saxony, in north-western Germany. There he was appointed as Senior British Officer as he was able to speak German and could interpret for the other prisoners.

George talks in detail about life in the camp, and his escape from the prison in December 1944 that saw him back in England by January 1945.

He also talks about other aspects of Bomber Command life, such as laying mines near the U-boat pens.

For many years George and his wife Marian have worked tirelessly for veterans’ welfare for the Returned and Services Association in Northland. They live in Whangarei.

The tune heard in this episode is A Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The interview ends somewhat abruptly because at the time that video tape ran out, and so that is all there is I’m afraid.

Above: F/Lt George Barclay during WWII, and in 2010 during the interview.


3 comments to Episode 147 – George Barclay

  • Donald Rutherford

    A sad but also pleasant reminder for me of similar experiences told to me by my father who was a pilot of about the same age in 150 sqn of the RAF .Its great to hear a voice of such strength of a generation that is slowly passing into history
    My father died at the age of 50 surviving the war as George has .
    I wonder sometimes if people realise on an every day basis now just how much of a sacrifice their generation made for the country we have now
    Least we forget

  • Robert Norman

    I am a personal friend of George Barclay and have been trying to reach him without success. Do you have any current information? Robert Norman USA

  • Ian Reid

    Hi. I live in Whangarei ,New Zealand and have known George for some time. He is now very old and living in a Rest Home in Whangarei. He does not have access to computers or email. If you would like to contact him I would be pleased to receive an email which I would print out and deliver to him. Kind regards, Ian Reid. Reidsnz@gmail.com

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