Barry, Lieutenant Owen Cressy

No 4 Sqn AFC

Owen Barry came from Harwood Island, NSW. He was born on 23 June 1891 and, prior to the War, he worked as a Sugar Cane Inspector in the Richmond River area of NSW. Aged 23, he enlisted in the Light Horse at Liverpool on 18 February 1915, before leaving from Sydney with the 12th Light Horse on HMAT A29 Suevic on 13 June. He served at Gallipoli, where he was absorbed into the 1st Light Horse in August, before being evacuated due to illness the next month. After hospital treatment he was returned to the 12th Light Horse, where he stayed until he transferred to the 4th Light Horse Machine Gun Squadron in February 1917. In July he joined the AFC, followed by passage to the UK for flying training. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the AFC in November, and promoted to Lieutenant in March 1918 prior to being posted to No 4 Sqn, equipped with Sopwith Camels, on the Western Front.

Lt Barry arrived as the AFC and RFC were heavily engaged in attacks on German troops following the 21 March Kaiserschlact offensive, and he was mentioned in an appendix to the Official History for his part in ground attack operations on 26 March (the appendix summarised the work of all squadron pilots who flew that day): Dropped two bombs on ‘flaming onion’ battery on Cambrai-Bapaume road from 3000 feet (08.45). Fired 450 rounds at troops in village of Velu from 1000 feet and Dropped two bombs on cavalry on Vaulx-Beugnâtre road from 1200 feet (15.40). Fired 450 rounds at troops and transport on Vaulx-Lagnicourt road from 1000 feet.

After leaving Bruay aerodrome at 18.40 on 11 May 1918, flying Sopwith Camel B7480 on a Bombing Offensive Patrol, he was killed in action while over Armentières when he was shot down in flames from near 17000 feet at about 19.45. A victory was credited to Unteroffizier Karl Pech of Jasta 29, probably flying a Pfalz D.III; it was the sixth of Pech’s eventual nine victories before he was killed in a collision over Ballieul with SE 5a D3942, flown by Capt H G White of No 29 Sqn RAF on 19 May 1918. Capt White survived, and was credited with seven victories by the Armistice.

Lt Owen Barry has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France. He is also commemorated on the Murwillumbah, NSW, War Memorial.

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