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234 Squadron, Bob Doe, Pat Hughes, etc.
Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:29pm

Some time ago I posted regarding 234 Squadron and the loss of a Squadron Leader and a Flt Lt.

This was spoken of in a tv interview with Bob Doe, in the tv series-Churchill`s Few, and others(?) Later, this was also mentioned in a book from the series, of the same title.
Many years ago, it stated that the young, newer pilots would have been affected by the posting out of a Sqn Ldr and A Flt. Lt from the Squadron.

I have come across this name; Sqn. Ldr. Barnet in the book Churchill`s Few. On pages 70-71, it states "The tension between the commanding officer, Sqn. Ldr. Barnett, and the rest of the Squadron grew even more marked in Cornwall, as Kirkorian remembers:`It was clear at St. Eval that Barnett couldn`t and wouldn`t lead the Squadron into battle`. "

(This also ties in with other accounts where it states that the Sqn Ldr ignored the vectors towards the enemy and flew around with the Squadron in circles not wanting to get involved.)

It goes on to say: "Indeed the Squadron record book mentions no flights by Barnett in May and June, 4 solo patrols in Mid-July, and not a single flight in the 2nd half of July and August when the Battle of Britain was hotting up. He appears never to have flown in action. At the same time, Bob Doe and other 234 Sqn pilots were being scrambled three and four times a day.
Bob Doe, who became a leading ace in the Battle of Britain, said that by the time of it starting he had gor around 400 hours in Spitfires, compared to the novices who were posted in straight from their O.T.U.`s.

It goes on to say that "Sqn Ldr. Barnett, who led from the hangar, was conspicuous by his abscence in the air, and some of the young pilots felt lost.

Later on page 86, it states that "Joseph Szlagowski and Zig Klein, the newly arrived Poles, had already sensed that it was Pat Hughes, rather than the remote Sqn. Ldr, Dickie Barnett, who commanded the respect of the pilots".

It also goes on to say that later, Flying Officer Igglesden was mysteriously removed from flying duties, and on the same day, Flt. Lt. Thielman relinquished command of A Flight, partly due to Asthma, but also due to the pressure of taking the responsibilities of the absent Sqn Ldr Barnett. (Pg 87).

Later still on page 103, it says that on 11th August, Quintin Brand, AOC of 10 Group, visited 234 Spitfire Sqn and that 2 days later, Sqn. Ldr. Barnett relinquished command. Most of 234 were pleased at this development. Some stated it was a case for L.M.F. others were more charitable.

The pilots turned to Pat Hughes for leadership and testified to the young Australian`s leadership. Pat Hughes, like Bob Doe, also became a high scoring Battle of Britain ace, tragically being killed in action September 7th, 1940.

Keith Lawrence praised Pat Hughes for his example of leadership, when I spoke with him in at Farnborough in May, 2010. He said that he was a wonderful pilot and that he would have followed him anywhere.

There are two ways you can go when faced with fear;Pat Hughes chose the right way, some, unfortunately could not face up to the thought of being killed in combat, understandably so, and chose another way.

Paul Davies

    • Churchill`s FewPaul Davies, Fri Feb 25 10:54pm
      Sadly, Sqn Ldr. Richard Barnett passed away in 1970. Barnett, Richard E. Squadron Leader 26222 Passed away 2nd January 1970 N/A Sources; Churchill`s Few, Yorkshire Television tv film (in parts) with... more
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