Shoreham Aircraft Museum


Nathaniel Barry, by courtesy of Geoff Nutkins Nathaniel's family and others beside his memorial

On 26th May 2007, the Shoreham Aircraft Museum unveiled and dedicated a memorial to Nathaniel Barry at Court Lodge Farm, Darenth, Kent. Flying Officer Barry was one of Winston Churchill's "Few", a pilot of the Battle of Britain.

Neverf in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few

Nathaniel Barry came from South Africa. He died on 7th October 1940, baling out of his damaged Hawker Hurricane over Wrotham, after a combat with Me109s. He is buried at St Andrew churchyard, Finghall, North Yorkshire. 

Many people attended the dedication, including the Dartford, Orpington, and Swanley Air Cadets, and standard bearers from the air cadets, and the Dartford and Shoreham branches of the Royal British Legion. . 

cadets standard bearers

The ceremony began with the recorded chimes of Big Ben, and an extract from Winston Churchill's speech of 20th August, 1940. "The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world ....goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Trevor Page Jan Dash John Versfield Rodney Scrase

Trevor Page from the Shoreham Aircraft Museum welcomed everyone to the dedication. "The Museum began 25 years ago, building a collection of artefacts from the Battle of Britain ... It raises funds for the Guinea Pig club, and raised funds  for the Battle of Britain memorial on the Victoria Embankment. It is now raising monuments to these heroes of 1940. We can't stand on their battlefield but  you can see it above you." 

The Reverend Jan Dash conducted the service. "Greater love hath no man that this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  ... We are here to give thanks for the life of Nathaniel Barry. ... He earned his wings in the RAFVR, joining the air squadron when he came to Cambridge university in 1938."

John Versfield, great nephew of Nathaniel Barry, was one of many family members attending the dedication. "England was in a spot of bother - not even a cup of tea would sort it out! ... Nathaniel was someone we can all applaud, dying to save a foreign country ... From a representative of the many we thank the few. He and his comrades will fly through our hearts."

Rodney Scrase, DFC, 72 Squadron, read the poem "High Flight" by Pilot Officer  Gillespie Magee, Royal Canadian Air Force, who died on 11th December 1941.

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings ..."


Justin Colegate reading a poem Roy Monk Brian Rance

Justin Colegate from the Museum read from   Matthew 16:23-8 - "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If any man will come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it ..."

Albert Bennett, formerly 155 squadron,  asked to join the service, and read a poem of Remembrance. "Now and forever we shall remember them ... Thanks for all these years in peace, Hope that in time all wars will cease." He added that we grow older, with  aches and pains, but "If God should give us extra time to play, Let us give thanks for each and every day."

Roy Monk, Dartford Royal Air Force Association commemorated "all those who died in the Air Force ... let us pledge to keep their memory alive".


Brian Rance played the Last Post and the Reveille. He has played the Last Post for  14 years at St George's  RAF Chapel of Remembrance.


"We dedicate this foundation stone to Nathaniel Barry, that this place may be a place to remember Nat and the sacrifice he made for us. In memory of Nathanial John Merriman Barry, and in gratitude."

unveiling the memorial the memorial unveiled

The stone reads: In memory of Flying Officer Nathaniel John Merriman Barry, RAFVR, of No 501 Squadron, from South Africa, who lost his life on 7th October 1940. His Hurricane V6800 crashed near this spot. He was 22 years old, one of Churchill's Few. Memorial dedicated on 28th May 2007 by the Shoreham Aircraft Museum.   

After the unveiling and dedication, Nathaniel Barry's niece, Wanda Reynolds, spoke of her uncle's career.  Nathaniel John Merriman Barry was born on 18th June 1918 in the Eastern Wanda ReynoldsTransvaal, and went to school at St Andrews, and to the Diocesan College, Capetown. There he gained Greek and Maths with Honours. In 1937 he came to Pembroke College, Cambridge, to study Mechanical and Technical Science, and joined the university air squadron. He then joined the RAFVR, and in 1940 became Aide-de-Camp to Air Vice Marshall Crespigny. However, he insisted on becoming a front line fighter pilot, and on 26th September 1940 he joined 501 Squadron at RAF Kenley.

All the information the family has about F/O Barry comes from his father's diary and letters to his sister. "I haven't used my parachute yet," wrote Nathaniel. Six days later, baling out, he was dead before he touched the ground. He was 22.

"Nat knew the dangers he faced, and met them with a great heart," wrote his father, Richard Barry. "We must give ungrudgingly, fully, without complaint, of our very best."

On the day of Nathaniel's funeral, his father sent a telegram, "Please lay flowers for us". Mrs Reynolds placed a wreath, laying "them now also on behalf of all the Barry family who cannot be here today." The wreath was of flowers from the Transvaal.

Brian Rance played, "Abide With Me" while wreaths were placed by the memorial stone. Laying a wreath on behalf of the Museum was Peter Ayerst. He is a former Hurricane pilot and veteran of the Battle of France. Jennifer James, below right, is Nathaniel's niece. She was 11 when he died, and had travelled from Vancouver, Canada, with her sons, Richard and David, for the dedication.

laying a wreath laying a wreath

Edward McManus

Edward McManus, of the Museum, concluded the dedication. "It was 67 years ago that Nat died. It is up to us, the small groups, to commemorate them all ... stone and readerThe memorial will be here after we have gone. If only one person pauses and asks, "What was it for?" it will have been worthwhile."


The ceremony ended with the National Anthem. Afterwards, a Hawker Hurricane flew past, in memory

plane being filmed plane flying over stone

plane looping

plane flying ".... I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God."

Post Script

Afterwards many went back to the Museum, to enjoy the delicious lunch and fine company.

museum yard lunch

And there was a surprise for one volunteer at the Museum.  Rodney Scrase presented a book, signed by the author, Cy Grant, an RAF PoW, in recognition of the help Dean has given to the Dover War Memorial Project. Gotcha, Dean!

Rodney and Dean

pictures by Simon John Chambers
with special thanks to Geoff Nutkins, curator and aviation artist, for permission to use his portrait of Nathaniel Barry
for more of Geoff's art, visit
for more about the Museum, including information about their memorial projects, visit

Copyright 2006 Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved