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The Airmen's Stories - F/O F B Sutton


Fraser Barton Sutton, always known as Barry, was born in Witney, Oxfordshire on 28th January 1919.

His father had served in WW1 and decided when the war ended to start a new life by buying a ranch in Argentina. The family stopped en route in Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada where Barry's grandfather lived.

It was decided that two-year-old Barry should remain in Okanagan while his parents went on to establish themselves in Argentina. He spent a year accompanying his uncle as he worked on horseback and on a train that serviced the local coal mine.



This was followed by a year in Argentina with his parents, the family returned to England in 1923 when the ranch venture failed and settled in Northamptonshire.

He attended a local school, on leaving his first job was as a reporter for a Northampton evening newspaper. He joined the RAFVR in October 1937 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

He began his weekend flying at 6 E&RFTS Sywell. When he went to work for a Nottingham paper he continued his flying training at 27 E&RFTS Tollerton.

Sutton joined the RAF on a short service commission in February 1939. After completing his training at 2 FTS Brize Norton he joined 56 Squadron at North Weald on 2nd August 1939, direct from 2 FTS.


The Minister for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood, visited 56 Squadron in late 1939, he is here shaking the hand of F/Lt. REP Brooker. Sutton stands beyond Brooker.

Sutton had recently acquired a mongrel called Buddy, who, with a tennis ball in his mouth, followed the minister on his tour of inspection.


On 16th May 1940 'B' Flight of 56 Squadron, including Sutton, flew to Vitry-en-Artois in France. He shared in the destruction of a Do17 on the 18th but later on this day, in Hurricane N2553, he was jumped by a Me109 soon after taking off and wounded in the foot. Sutton managed to return to Vitry.

He was put in an ambulance with a badly burned F/Lt. FE Rosier of 229 Squadron and sent on a seven hour journey through roads choked with refugees to a field hospital at Chateau de Cercamp, Frevent, west of Arras. Both men were operated on and sent on the next day to a tented military hospital at Le Treport.

On 23rd May the order came to evacuate the hospital and Sutton again accompanied Rosier and three other stretcher cases in an ambulance heading for Dieppe, as they left they saw the tents and equipment being set alight to deny them to the Germans.

Unloaded at Dieppe railway station, they were left lying on the platform as their destination, the hospital ship Maid of Kent, had been bombed and sunk. Reassigned to a hospital train, it left before they could be loaded, however it was later bombed and all seven coaches carrying stretcher cases were destroyed.

They were eventually loaded onto another hospital train loaded with double its 300-patient capacity and with no rations or dressings. After thirty hours they reached Cherbourg, were loaded on a ship and sailed after dark for Southampton.

After further treatment and sick leave, Sutton was stationed at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge as non-effective sick until 7th July 1940, when he rejoined 56 Squadron, making his first flight the next day.

Sutton claimed a Ju87 destroyed on 25th July.

On 12th August his flight intercepted Dornier Do17s over the Kent coast. His Hurricane was hit by return fire and glycol obscured his windscreen. He opened the cockpit hood and leaned out. Although his goggles then became misted over he managed to land at Manston, minutes after a bombing raid. He found that he had inadvertently taken the only path clear of craters and unexploded bombs.

Sutton claimed a Me110 on 13th August, a Me109 on the 16th and another Me110 on the 26th. He was shot down, possibly by a Spitfire, in combat over the Thames Estuary on 28th August 1940 and baled out, seriously burned, from Hurricane R4198. Sutton was admitted to Canterbury Hospital and later transferred to the RAF Hospital at Halton.

After a year in hospital Sutton was posted to the Middle East. He waited in Cairo for a posting and in November 1941 he set out for Burma.

He flew with a group of Hurricanes, led by a Blenheim, the first leg being from Cairo to Lydda. They then flew in easy stages to Mingaladon, Burma where they joined 136 Squadron.

Sutton was made Flight Commander and probably destroyed two Japanese Army 97 Fighters on 6th February 1942.

Later in February he took command of 135 Squadron at Mingaladon. He probably destroyed one Japanese bomber and damaged another on the 25th. The squadron was ordered to withdraw on 5th March, firstly to Akyab and then to Dum Dum, in India.

In mid-April 1942 Sutton was posted to Air HQ Bengal, as a staff officer. He went to the Air Fighting Training Unit at Amarda Road in early 1943 as CFI, remaining there until November when he was posted to Command HQ Delhi as Chief Tactics Officer.

Sutton was appointed to lead a Spitfire Wing in Bengal in April 1944 and at the end of June he became Wing Leader of a Hurricane/Spitfire Wing in the Imphal Valley.

Sutton returned to the UK in 1945. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 17th August 1945).

Sutton was Personal Air Secretary to the Secretary of State for Air and commanded the RAF stations Aston Down, North Weald, Horsham St. Faith and Bassingbourn. He retired from the RAF on 23rd April 1966 as a Group Captain and lived in Jersey, where he had a house at Rozel on the island's north coast.

He died on 16th March 1988 and is buried in the churchyard extension at Trinity Church, Jersey.


Additional research and portrait courtesy of Fighter Boy by Barry Sutton ISBN 978 1 84868 849 0




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