George Barclay (RAF officer)

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George Barclay
Born 1920
South London, England
Died 17 July 1942
El Alamein, Egypt
Buried El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt[1]
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1939–1942
Rank Squadron Leader
Unit No. 249 Squadron
No. 611 Squadron
Commands held No. 238 Squadron

Second World War

Awards Distinguished Flying Cross

Richard George Arthur Barclay, DFC (1920 – 17 July 1942) was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot and flying ace of the Second World War. He was killed in action during the First Battle of El Alamein.

Early life[edit]

Barclay was born in South London in 1920; his father was an Anglican rector, and his family home for most of his childhood was in the rectory at Great Holland, on the Essex coast, near Frinton-on-Sea. He attended Hawtreys preparatory school, Stowe School, and Trinity College, Cambridge, and joined the University Air Squadron in 1938.

Second World War[edit]

Called up on the outbreak of war, and posted to No. 249 Squadron RAF in July 1940, he flew through the Battle of Britain, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in October. During the Battle of Britain, his diary records that he could see his house while flying from RAF North Weald.[2]

Barclay's DFC citation from November 1940 reads:

Flying Officer Richard George Arthur Barclay (74661), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve – No. 249 Squadron. This officer has shown admirable coolness and courage in combat against the enemy. His keenness and determination have enabled him to destroy at least four of their aircraft.[3]

As a flight commander with No. 611 Squadron RAF, Barclay was shot down over occupied France in September 1941. He force landed and evaded capture, making his way to Spain with help from the French Resistance. In April 1942 he was posted to North Africa and returned to flying as CO of No. 238 Squadron RAF, flying Hawker Hurricanes Mk II's.

He was shot down and killed by Werner Schröer of III./Jagdgeschwader 27 on 17 July 1942. He is buried at the El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt.[1] Barclay's older brother Charles, an army officer, was killed in 1944.[4]

His diaries, written during his wartime career up until his death, were published in 1974 and give a rare, descriptive and highly articulate first hand account of the life of a fighter pilot in 1940–41. An expanded edition was published in 2012.



  1. ^ a b Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  2. ^ George Barclay, "Battle of Britain Pilot:the self-portrait of an RAF fighter pilot and escaper," Haynes Publishing, 2012, p16
  3. ^ London Gazette Issue 35001, 26 November 1940
  4. ^ a memorial to both brothers is in Cromer Parish Church, where their father was vicar at the time of their deaths: George Barclay, "Battle of Britain Pilot:the self-portrait of an RAF fighter pilot and escaper," Haynes Publishing, 2012 p18