A submarine hunter has been named after a brave Canadian pilot who was awarded a Victoria Cross for his service during the First World War.
The Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft – based at RAF Lossiemouth – will now be known as William Barker VC.
Major Barker, who served with the 201 Squadron during the Great War, was flying a Sopwith Snipe over the Western Front in October 1918 when he became embroiled in a dogfight with 15 enemy aircraft.
Despite being wounded in the legs and having his left elbow blown away, he managed to control his biplane and disable three enemy aircraft before making a forced landing.
After regaining consciousness several days later, he was informed that he was to receive the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour ‘in the face of the enemy’.
In a short note to his commander, Major Barker wrote: “By Jove, I was a foolish boy, but anyhow I taught them a lesson.”
Group captain Rob O’Dell, from Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (Istar) force headquarters, said: “The Royal Air Force has always enjoyed the closest of ties with the Royal Canadian Air Force and it is entirely fitting to name this aircraft after William Barker VC whose exceptional gallantry continues to serve as an inspiration to military aviators.
“Major Barker won his VC in 1918 while serving on 201 Squadron, who now operate the Poseidon.
“This also provides an appropriate link to the Royal Canadian Air Force’s subsequent key role within Coastal Command during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, and their continuing contribution to North Atlantic maritime security today.”
Today, 201 Squadron operates the Poseidon in an anti-submarine warfare role from RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth.
The RAF Poseidon fleet, which will total nine aircraft, is already providing cutting-edge maritime patrol, working side-by-side with the Royal Navy and other allies to secure the seas around the UK and abroad.
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