The Airmen's Stories - F/O R E Bary
Ronald Edward Bary was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand on 9th June 1915, after leaving school he was employed as a law clerk at the Department of Justice in Palmerston North.
He was accepted for an RAF short service commission and left New Zealand on 16th December 1938 for the UK.
Bary's training began at 1 E&RFTS Hatfield and was completed at 11 FTS Shawbury, after which he joined the recently-formed 229 Squadron at Digby on 26th October 1939.
Over Dunkirk on 1st June 1940 Bary claimed a probable Ju87 and in September and October he shared in destroying two enemy aircraft, probably another and damaged three more. On 12th December Bary shared in the destruction of a Me109.
Above image courtesy of Andrew Bary
229 Squadron was posted to the Middle East in May 1941 and sailed in HMS Furious. The pilots flew six Hurricanes off to Malta on 21st May and, after refuelling, they flew on to Mersa Matruh. On arrival Bary was attached to 274 Squadron in the Western Desert, after which he was attached to the Ferry Pool at Takoradi. On 1st September 229 was brought together again and it began night-defence duties in the Mersa Matruh area.
In early October 1941 Bary was posted to 250 Squadron at Sidi Heneish as a Flight Commander. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 7th April 1942) and soon afterwards went to No.1 Middle East Training School at El Ballah as an instructor. In his time with 250 he had destroyed two enemy aircraft and probably another.
Bary took command of 80 Squadron at Bu Amud, Libya on 23rd January 1943. In mid-June he was given command of 239 Kittyhawk fighter-bomber Wing, which he took to Malta on 9th July to take part in the invasion of Sicily on the following day. The Allies invaded Italy on 3rd September 1943 and 239 Wing flew in support of the army, based initially in Sicily and later in Italy.
In late January 1944, tour-expired, Bary returned to the UK. He was posted to the Fighter Leaders' School at Milfield for a course and on 27th July he was appointed as an instructor there. He later joined the staff of the Central Fighter Establishment at Milfield.
Bary returned to operations when he flew to Naples in December 1944 to take command of 244 Wing Desert Air Force, flying in support of the Eighth Army. On 12th April 1945 he took off with three other Spitfires of 417 Squadron to make a close-support bombing attack on a target northeast of Imola.
On reaching the area, Bary dived to drop his two 500lb. bombs. At somewhere between 4000 and 5000 feet his aircraft exploded and disintegrated. There was no flak, no enemy aircraft were seen and it is assumed that the explosion was caused by a faulty fuse which detonated when the bombs were released.
Bary's body was recovered and he is buried in the British Empire Cemetery at Faenza. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 12th February 1946) with effect from the day prior to his death. The citation described him as 'an outstanding Wing Leader’.
(Above: 229 Squadron - L to R: DuVivier, Smith WA, Bright, Mitchell RR, Ravenhill, Bary, Linney, Brown RC, Merryweather, Riley W and Ripley)
Above cemetery images courtesy of The War Graves Photographic Project