Nicky Barr, an Australian Air Ace: A Story of Courage and Adventure

Front Cover
Allen & Unwin, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 252 pages
In 1939, at the age of 23, Nicky Barr was chosen to represent Australia in the international rugby world tour. The day after the squad arrived in England, war was declared and the tour was cancelled. Nicky immediately signed up to become a fighter pilot in the RAAF and while fighting Rommel's famed Afrika Korp in North Africa, quickly rose through the ranks to become squadron leader. He shot down over twelve enemy planes, and was himself shot down three times. He became a prisoner of war, but escaped four times, including once from a moving train. Nicky Barr's story is one of adventure, war, courage and mortality, and the love for his wife that sustained him through it all. (Adapted from back cover).
 

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Contents

The Morning Before
1
The Early Years
5
Khartoum
18
Landing Ground 122
23
First Victory
36
Enter the Kittyhawks
46
Senussi Adventure
55
Cairo
66
LakeComo
145
The Metamorphosis
155
Bergamo Revisited
162
Germany Bound
171
Pontremoli 777
177
Abruzzi
187
GorianoValli
193
The Alpine Route
207

Gambut
72
Operation Venezia
80
Knightsbridge
86
Battle of the Cauldron
91
BirHacheim
98
Mersa Matruh
120
Tobruk
129
Bergamo
137
Cutello
212
Normandy
220
Australia
232
The Years After
242
Australian Fighter Aces of World War Two
251
Further Reading
252
Copyright

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Page vi - I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Page vi - O, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along and flung My eager craft through...
Page 159 - For Yesterday is but a Dream, And Tomorrow is only a Vision; But Today well lived makes Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness, And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Page 105 - ... sky, swirling from sea level to the cloud layer in wild dogfights. The formations were shredded. I snapped into a tight loop and rolled out on the tail of a Hellcat, squeezing out a burst as soon as the plane came into the range finder. He rolled away and my bullets met only empty air. I went into a left vertical spiral, and kept closing the distance, trying for a clear shot at the plane's belly. The Grumman tried to match the turn with me; for just that moment I needed, his underside filled...
Page 243 - Island, where he remained until the end of the war. After the war he began the study of law, and was admitted to the bar in 1867.
Page 104 - ... was no hesitation on the part of the American pilots; the Grummans screamed in to attack. Then the planes were all over the sky, swirling from sea level to the cloud layer in wild dogfights. The formations were shredded. I snapped into a tight loop and rolled out on the tail of a Hellcat, squeezing out a burst as soon as the plane came into the range finder. He rolled away and my bullets met only empty air. I went into a left vertical spiral and kept closing the distance, trying for a clear shot...
Page 235 - The great challenge had been met and conquered. For both of them, it was an unforgettable moment as they clung together in a mutual outpouring of joy that took away their breath and words.
Page 112 - It wa.s like an immense silver and pink quilt, which hung overhead like a canopy, through which the early stars twinkled. It slowly changed to a vivid scarlet, the soft pastel shades being replaced by bold reds and fiery pools of crimson. Nicky was compelled to be creative. He rested against a handy ridge and etched a poem in his logbook. He titled it 'Meanderings'.
Page 80 - The morning stillness was broken by the first splutter of an engine then, one by one, a dozen Kittyhawks, sounding like the powerful tattoo of thousands of war drums, throbbed into life as the ground crew inspected and warmed the motors.
Page 77 - ... later the orderly formations disintegrated into a wild, swirling dogfight. I watched a P-36 scream toward me, then flicked into a swift left roll, waiting for the enemy's reaction. Foolishly, he maintained his course. That was all for me, and I snapped around into a sharp right turn, standing the Zero on her wing, and came out directly on the tail of the startled P-36 pilot. A look behind me showed my own plane clear, and I closed the distance to the enemy fighter. He rolled to the right, but...

About the author (2002)

Peter Dornan is a Brisbane physiotherapist and is author of The Silent Men, which is currently being made into a film.

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