582 Squadron – May 1945

This wonderful photograph was clearly taken on or just after Victory in Europe Day on 8 May 1945.

582Sqdn PFF end of war (2)

The photograph was taken at Little Staughton. It was sent by Keith Leadbetter, whose father joined the squadron at the very end of the war and is somewhere in the photograph.

 

Donald Schofield Barker, 582 Squadron

It is very unusual for men to be identified in group photographs many years after the photographs were taken. However this is the case with Donald Barker, who can be seen (below right) in a cropped version of  the large-scale photograph of 582 Squadron on VE Day.

donald barker and friend

The man on the left is a close friend, probably a member of the same crew. One theory is that his name was Bill Blackburn. However, the crew that Barker was flying with at the end of the war was as follows:

0670 - 22 April 1945, second sheet, 2

The two friends appear in the holiday photograph at the top of this page , and it is from this photograph that they have been identified.

Unfortunately, this is not a happy story. Donald survived the dangers of the war, having been in the RAF since 1942, only to drown whilst on holiday fourteen months after VE Day.

Dying in the year that he did, whilst still in the RAF, Donald is registered with the CWGC even though he is not a war casualty. This was standard practice – inclusion for the British memorial programme ran up to 31 December 1947.

He is remembered on a very poignant family grave.

barker gravestone

 

Images of Donald Barker and the family grave: courtesy of Matt Barker