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From a sergeant pilot, to Deputy Chief of Air Staff ; Air Vice Marshall Frederick William Barnes

Announcing the Death of Air Vice Marshall Frederick William Barnes, AO, DFC, AFC, US Air Medal Frederick William Barnes was born Melbourne, 19/11/1924, died Dalmeny, 04/08/2018. Eldest son of Fred and Maggie Barnes, Brother of Vince (all dec’d). Much loved and loving husband of Pamela for 69 years. Father and father in law of Fred and Judith, Rob and Maggie, Kathie and Martin and Deb. Grandfather and grandfather in law of Alison and James, Frederick and Diana, Ashleigh; Jaymmie; David, Alisa and Matt, Nigel and Anna; Sam and Kylee, Pat and Emily and Charlotte. Great Grandfather of Jack, Charlie, Freddie, Chris, Maya, Lucy, Jemima, Lily, Tom and Josh. Much loved and admired by all, a true gentleman.

Per ardua ad astra. The funeral service for Fred will be held on Tuesday 14th August, 2018 at 11:30am, Broulee Memorial Gardens, Broulee Road, Broulee, NSW.

Fred Barnes (son) writes:

My father was born and educated in Melbourne, finishing school at the very young age of 14, at the behest of his parents. This was possibly out of concern for financial security, after the relatively recent depression and his parents’ struggles in that period. That was a great pity, as his headmaster, who tried to discourage the move, felt he would do well by staying on.

Dad became a telegraph boy at the end of 1938 and then moved into other roles in the Post Office. In 1942, as soon as he turned 18, he volunteered for the RAAF Air Crew Training Scheme, but at the time, his Postman role had been declared a reserved occupation. Nevertheless, he joined the Air Training Corps and while there, completed all 21 lessons which were then set for Air Crew Trainees and was later promoted to Corporal. If his start as an Air Craftsman 2 is also counted, he served in every rank from AC2 to Air Vice Marshall!

Eventually he discovered he would be permitted to join the RAAF and on 21st May, 1943, he was instructed to report to the RAAF Recruiting Centre in Russell Street, Melbourne. Completing his flying training and gaining his Wings, he was posted to Mildura as a Sergeant Pilot to train for operations on the P40 Kittyhawk. After further training and frustrating delays, he was posted to 77 Squadron, finally arriving on Labuan Island off Borneo on about 21st June, 1945.

Dad saw out the last part of the war on Labuan Island and while there, underwent the conversion program to the P51 Mustang, and was promoted to Warrant Officer. The squadron enjoyed a fairly relaxed time after the hostilities finished, until March 1946, when the squadron flew to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. Dad stayed there with the squadron for the next 4 years and enjoyed his time very much, especially after he met my mother. She was there with her her mother and her stepfather who was with an aid organisation. They married in Tokyo, then at the end of 1949, as the squadron was being sent back to Australia, Dad was posted to Laverton. They travelled home on a small coastal trader, which was a rough ride for my then pregnant mother.

Not long after being posted from Laverton to a flying instructor’s course at East Sale, he was told that in fact, he was going back to Japan, after war broke out on the Korean Peninsular. 77 Squadron was very active during the war and moved from place to place, as the front line moved north and south. In February 1951, he and another pilot were the first Australian pilots to fly 100 missions during the war.

After coming home from Korea, the next posting was to Woomera in the South Australian desert. While there, he was involved in the Jindivik Project, to develop a pilotless target aircraft. This involved flying the test Pika aircraft, and then experimenting with radio control. The Jindivik was developed with experience gained and became a very successful aircraft, sold to armed forces around the world.

The next posting for Dad was to the George Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert in California, as part of the first ever exchange between the USA and Australian military. While there, he flew the new F100 Super Saber and was the first Australian to break the sound barrier in level flight. My younger brother had been born while we were in Woomera and a sister was born while we were in George. My younger brother had been born while we were in Woomera, a sister was born while we were in California and later, another sister was born while we were in Williamtown

Dad had a range of postings back in Australia from the mid 1950s, at Melbourne, Williamtown and Canberra, flying Sabres, desks and then became involved in the Mirage project. In 1966 he was posted to Paris for two years at Air Attaché, having previously spent time in France on the Mirage project. During this time, he not only had the opportunity to fly quite a few different French Air Force planes, but the honour to represent Australia at the ANZAC Day services in Villers-Bretonneux.

After Paris, he was posted to Butterworth, in Malaysia, as Air Staff Officer and had 3 years there. This was a time when the Sabre was being replaced there by the Mirage, the Vietnam war was raging and the British were withdrawing. After 3 years in Butterworth, in 1972, he was posted to London to complete the course at the Royal College of Defence studies.

This was followed by 3 years in Canberra flying another desk, as Director General of Personnel, then a posting as Officer Commanding, Williamtown, by this stage as an Air Commodore. He very much enjoyed his time back with the “knuckle heads” and flying again. It was only for a year, but while there he was promoted to Air Vice Marshall and posted to Melbourne for 2 years as Air Officer Commanding Support Command. Melbourne was Dad’s home town, so he enjoyed the opportunity to be “home” for a couple of years.

His last posting was to back to Canberra as Deputy Chief of Air Staff. During this time, he still managed to do some flying. He did a conversion course to fly the Caribou and did some flying around Papua New Guinea. His last flight was in a Mirage, from Canberra to Williamtown, for his formal dining-out function at the Officers Mess there.

In his memoirs he wrote:

“Looking back now, I am very grateful for the way life has dealt with me. To have survived the Korean War without any impacts, then or now, and to have been in at the beginning of the RAAFG’s Meteor, Sabre and Mirage aircraft, as well as the USAF F100A Fighter, were great adventures. Woomera, with its strange range of aircraft, was also way out of the ordinary. The range of places I have served in are not likely to happen in today’s RAAF.”

Click above fr slideshow and Larger images

There is another wonderful profile of FRED BARNES compiled by Jim Hall HERE

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