Douglas George BARRETT

BARRETT, Douglas George

Service Numbers: 417275, 417265
Enlisted: 28 February 1942
Last Rank: Flight Sergeant
Last Unit: No. 463 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Wisanger, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia , 7 October 1917
Home Town: Tarlee, Clare and Gilbert Valleys, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Air Combat Operations NW Europe, North West Europe, 27 January 1944, aged 26 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Runnymede Memorial Englefield Green, Runnymede Borough, Surrey, England Panel 259
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, International Bomber Command Centre Memorial, Riverton & District War Memorial Pool Memorial and Flagpole, Runnymede Air Forces Memorial, Tarlee & District Honour Roll WW2
Show Relationships

World War 2 Service

28 Feb 1942: Involvement Leading Aircraftman, 417275, Aircrew Training Units, Empire Air Training Scheme
28 Feb 1942: Enlisted Aircraftman, 417275, Adelaide
28 Feb 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, 417275
27 Jan 1944: Involvement Flight Sergeant, 417265, No. 463 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45


Douglas George BARRETT was engaged to Gwenyth (Gwen) Ella MOLINEUX in 1942.

Douglas was a radio-operator gunner in Lancaster bombers in WWII. He had finished his tour of duty and was to return home, when called to one last flight from which he did not return. Gwenyth found this difficult to accept and did not marry.

Showing 1 of 1 story

Biography contributed

Completed by St Ignatius College, Adelaide


Second son of George William and Jane Barrett, Douglas George Barrett was born on the 7th of October 1917 in Wisanger, Kangaroo Island. A year later the family settled down in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys area in the country town of Tarlee, where Barrett attended Riverton Public School until he was 14. Later, he worked on tractor and car machinery as a farmer and enjoyed riding, tennis, football, shooting, and the Tarlee Musical and Literary Society. Barrett was engaged to Gwenyth Ella Molineux, who came from a Tarlee family of extensive war involvement, including her brother, Sidney Linthorne. Before his enlistment, Barrett served 2 ½ years voluntary service with the 9/23 Light Horse Regiment from which he was exempted to enlist. On the 28th of February 1942, at the age of 24, Barrett enlists in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at the No. 5 Recruiting Centre, Adelaide, from which he is posted to the No. 4 Initial Training School.

Mount Breckan Estate, Victor Harbor, was established as a holiday home for the family of Alexander Hay, a Scottish emigrant turned South Australian politician. It was destroyed by fire in 1909 before it was rebuilt as the ‘Mount Breckan Club’. In 1940, it was purchased by the government as a base for the No. 4 Initial Training School. Thereafter, over 5,000 RAAF and WAAAF recruits like Barrett were ‘mustered’, through which he was assigned Wireless Operator Air Gunner.

In May 1942, Barrett begins attendance at the No. 1 Wireless Air Gunner School (WAGS) in Ballarat, Victoria. In the difficult, 26th iteration of the Course, he is trained in Morse, electrical science, radio theory, practical radio, operating of wireless equipment, and radio operation from Wackett aircraft used for training, sending at least 18 Morse words a minute. Fellow WAGS graduate, Tom Runnalls describes training in the Wacketts.

“Whilst in the cramped confines of the rear cockpit, it was imperative not to lose one's essential recording equipment - a small lead pencil!” (Runnalls, 2005)

He recalls the pencil’s novelty, which trainees kept tied to their overalls and tucked in their pocket, distinguishing the ‘top dogs – the graduating course’ who were finally flying. On the 16th of November 1942, Barrett graduated as a Wireless Operator.

Ballarat’s populated nature was deemed inappropriate for gunnery training; thus, Barrett is moved to West Sale, Victoria to No. 3 Bombing and Air Gunners Schools to complete his last month of Australian training. In Sale, Air Gunners were trained in air-to-air combat, using a drogue attached to another aircraft and air-to-ground combat, shooting 200 rounds at 12 numbered targets during a low fly-over. Each student had a different coloured bullet to determine accuracy, however the passing hit rate was reportedly only 2%5. RAAF trainees also had to be versed in operating moving gun turrets; disassembling, cleaning and reassembling machinery; identifying aircrafts; discussing tactics and range shooting. After seven months of base training, Barrett was ready to embark.

On the 11th of December 1942, Barrett embarks at the No. 4 Embarkation Depot in Mitcham, which was located at Scotch College from 1942-1945 to process RAAF personnel to new postings. In March 1943, he arrives at the No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre in Bournemouth, England which acts as temporary lodgings for Barrett and other non-commissioned RAAF personnel before dispatch. He leaves Bournemouth later that month.

Barrett is posted to the No. 3 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit (AFU), which before 1942 was named Service Flying Training School, which was reinstated in 1945 post-war. The AFU was split into two parts, one for pilots, who were trained to use higher power aircraft in new conditions, and the other for observers like Barrett who had trained in Australia and had to become used to operating in the poor English weather with no horizon visibility.

After just over a month with the AFU, Barrett begins at the No. 27 Operational Training Unit in Lichfield, Staffordshire, before moving on to the No. 1660 Conversion Unit, the final training post served by RAAF members. Many Australian aircrew came through Lichfield, trained as night bomber crews in Vickers Wellingtons and conversion units trained them in new aircraft ready for raids. Barrett was likely trained here in the Avro Lancaster, as he later performs operational raids in this aircraft.

In late August 1943, Barrett gets posted to his first operational squadron at Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire at No. 44 Squadron. It took individuals and compiled often multi-national aircrew specialising in operations using the Avro Lancasters, which they were the first squadron to convert to. The squadron was involved in the ‘Battle of Berlin (RAF)’ over the winter of 1943 and 1944, aiming to destroy the capital from the air. Though they did not reach fruition, significant damage was attributed to RAAF raids. Barrett serves at this posting through the latter half of 1943, before being reposted on the 25th of November.

Barrett is reposted to the No. 463 Squadron in Waddington, Lincolnshire upon its formation in November 1943 as part of the 5th Group of RAF Bomber Command. No. 463 Squadron was engaged with the Battle of Berlin (RAF), night raids over the Ruhr and Berlin, and occasionally attacks on German V1 bomb and V2 rocket assembly and launch sites. Barrett joins Flying Officer Frank Stanley Guest Chidgey (Bomb Aimer), Sergeant James Falconer (Rear Gunner), Warrant Officer Thomas Victor Finn (Navigator), Sergeant Roy Rees Jones (Flight Engineer), Flying Officer Alan James Durham Leslie (Pilot), and Sergeant Alan Wiggins (Mid Upper Gunner). His role as the Wireless Operator Air Gunner was to receive and transmit radio messages between the aircraft and the base, often done in silence, as well as act as the reserve gunner and make minor aircraft reparations.

On the 27th of January 1944, 1737 hours, Barrett’s crew in the Avro Lancaster ME563 marked JO-L, along with some 530 others from various squadrons, disembarked from Waddington in a night raid on Berlin. They carried 1 x 4000 lb, 48 x 30lb, and 900 x 4lb incendiaries. German fighters were waiting over Berlin, and despite measures to divert attention from the true flight path and incorporate sharp withdrawals, they were not shaken. This withdrawal tactic was heavily criticised as it led to near collisions between bombing Lancasters and losses amongst RAAF squadrons were high, with 6 of 48 Lancasters sent out destroyed, despite the successful attack.

After take-off, nothing was heard from Barrett’s crew and they did not return following the raid, taking part in the last of five missions completed by the aircrew. They were listed missing the following day, presumed dead. It was discovered later that the aircraft had been caught up in heavy flak and exploded, killing all crew and crashing in Teltow. The six other crew members were found and buried in Waltersdorf, Teltow, however Barrett, aged 26, was not found until later, some distance from the others. He is remembered at Runnymede Memorial which commemorates Air Force personnel with no known grave.

Throughout his life and service in the RAAF, Barrett displayed many of the valued ANZAC spirit qualities. His story is not unlike that of thousands of others, that of a person who gave their life for their country and Allied victory. Enlisting halfway through the war, Barrett persevered through the extensive training, including the WAGS and BAGS courses which were often failed due to their difficulty. He continued steadfastly through constant changes in posting, from training camps across Australia, to multiple different units in England on the other side of the world. His trained role was difficult, spent in dark, cramped conditions where he had to keep track of multiple different jobs at once. He also displayed genuine mateship, as aircrew would often remain together, a tight-knit team, from their very first posting in a new squadron, completing all their missions together until the war, or death, did them part. Another part of his role as a Wireless Operator was to stay behind in the craft if an emergency occurred and radio for help, showing his readiness to complete dangerous tasks for the wellbeing of his crew. His mateship was also evident through his whole life, with his value of community involvement before his enlistment and his readiness to move from one form of service, the Light Horse Troops, to another, the RAAF.



Source List:

1WAGS. “Courses, No., Wireless, Air, Gunners, School, Ballarat.” Courses | No. 1 Wireless Air Gunners School Ballarat, Accessed 21 May 2023.

---. “No. 463 Squadron.”, Accessed 28 May 2023.

---. “Writing Case : Flight Officer a J D Leslie, 463 Squadron, RAAF.”, Accessed 21 May 2023.

Aviation Heritage Museum. “BARRETT Douglas George 417275.” Aviation Heritage Museum, Accessed 21 May 2023.

Best, Dave , and Brendan Cowan. “Avro Lancaster.”, 2021, Accessed 21 May 2023.

Dunn, Peter. “4 Initial Training School RAAF, Mt Breckan, Victor Harbour, South Australia, during WW2.”, 21 Sept. 2014,

Herington, John. “Chapter 24 – Berlin and Other Long–Distance Raids.”, 1954, Accessed 21 May 2023.

Monument Australia. “Occupation of Scotch College | Monument Australia.”, 2021, Accessed 21 May 2023.

National Archives of Australia. “Barrett Douglas George.”, 24 Nov. 2009, Accessed 21 May 2023.

“No. 3 Flying Training School RAF.” Wikipedia, 25 Aug. 2022, Accessed 28 May 2023.

Runnalls, Tom. A BABE in ARMS’ a Personal Record of RAAF Service, 1942 - 1945. T. Runnalls, 2005.

Storr, Alan. 463 Squadron RAAF Second World War Fatalities. 2006.

Virtual War Memorial Australia. “Douglas George BARRETT - VWMA.”, Accessed 21 May 2023.

---. “No. 4 Initial Training School Victor Harbor.”,

Wainwright, Mike . “44 (Rhodesia) Squadron.”, Accessed 21 May 2023.




Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Douglas was born in Wisanger Kangaroo Island.  His family departed when he was 1 year old moving to the Clare & Gilbert Valley. 

The family lived near Riverton where he enlisted in the RAAF.