Shoreham Aircraft Museum
DEDICATION OF MEMORIAL TO NATHANIEL BARRY
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
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. .
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 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
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
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
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
Roy Monk, Dartford Royal Air
Force Association commemorated "all those who died
in the Air Force ... let us pledge to keep their
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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 ...
memorial will be here after we have gone. If only one
person pauses and asks, "What was it for?" it will have
The ceremony ended with the National
Anthem. Afterwards, a Hawker Hurricane flew past, in
".... I've topped the windswept heights with easy
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."
Afterwards many went back to the Museum,
to enjoy the delicious lunch and fine company.
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!
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