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Latest RAF Lossiemouth Poseidon named after Canadian First World War hero

The Poseidon MRA1 takes off from Seattle on its delivery flight

A RAF Lossiemouth Poseidon has been named after a Canadian Victoria Cross recipient who served during the First World War.

The UK’s seventh Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will be known as William Barker VC in honour of the pilot.

The Canadian served with 201 Squadron, which now operates the Poseidon in the anti-submarine warfare mission from RAF Lossiemouth.

Major Barker received the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy”, in October 1918.

He had become embroiled in a dogfight with 15 enemy aircraft while flying a Sopwith Snipe over the Western Front.

Wing Commander William Barker with a Sopwith Camel in which he shot down 46 enemy aircraft. Picture: DND Archives, AH-517.

Despite being wounded three times in his legs and having his left elbow blown away, he managed to control his biplane and disable three enemy aircraft before making a forced landing.

He heard the news about his Victoria Cross when he regained consciousness several days later, writing to the 201 Squadron commander: “By Jove, I was a foolish boy, but anyhow I taught them a lesson”.

‘An inspiration to military aviators’

Group Captain Rob O’Dell, from the RAF’s ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) Force Headquarters, said the naming of the aircraft was “entirely fitting”.

He continued: “The RAF 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 Victoria Cross in 1918 while serving on 201 Squadron who now operate the Poseidon.

The aircraft has been named William Barker VC. Picture: RAF Lossiemouth.

“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 the Second World War and their continuing contribution to North Atlantic maritime security today.”

There will eventually be nine aircraft in the Poseidon fleet operating from RAF Lossiemouth, which provide “cutting edge” maritime patrol. The RAF works alongside the Royal Navy and other allies to secure the seas around the UK and abroad.

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