William Barry Needham

RCAF   F/L   -   Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honour (Fr)

use switches
Fighter Pilots
Air Gunners
Navigators/Radar Operators
Other Aircrew
Gallery Gallery
Misc. Miscellaneous

Barry Needham

use switches
Site Map Sitemap
Sources Slang
Acknowledgements Thanks/
About Us About
Links Links


Spitfires Surprise Foe Ships and Cannons Play Merry Tunes

London, 28 March 1942 – (CP Cable) - German E-boats, which seldom dare leave the safety of home waters, now have good reason to fear dare-devil attacks by Canadian fighter pilots, who always are on the lookout for enemy targets on land and sea and in the air.
Ten Spitfire pilots patrolling the Netherlands coast recently surprised a flotilla of five E-boats hugging the shore, swooped down and gave them the "works."
How many of these German high-speed surface craft were sunk or damaged during the battle is not known, but a British fighter squadron which passed over the scene later said it sighted more than a dozen bodies and a mass of wreckage floating on the choppy waters. The admiralty was so pleased with the results that it sent the Canadians a message of congratulations.

One From Brantford
Taking part in the decisive battle were F/L William Napier, Campbellton, N.B.; P/O Barry Needham, Wynyard, Sask.; P/O George Davidson, Brantford, Ont.; P/O John Brookhouse, Montreal; P/O A. P. L. (Apple) Smith, Cupar, Sask.; P/O L. A. Stewart, Fairy Hill, Sask.; P/O Richard Ellis, Montreal; F/S S. G. Napier, Capreol, Ont.; F/S H. V. Thompson, Toronto, and Sgt. W. F. Aldcorn, Gouverneur, Sask.
When the airmen first spotted the E-boats they were not certain about the identity because visibility was poor and British motor torpedo boats also were known to be at sea. The Germans, however, identified themselves with a barrage of flak and the battle started.

Well Plastered
The Canadians dived in roaring relays, spraying the fleeing craft with cannon fire and machine-gun bullets. Tracer bullets showed all the vessels received direct hits and one exploded with a huge orange colored flash. The Spitfires returned to base unscathed.
"Our cannon shells are capable of going right through an E-boat," P/O Davidson said. "Our lads are certain we plastered every one in the flotilla. We couldn't hang around to see how many of them we sank, as we didn't have much gasoline left and we were a long way from home. As soon as our ammunition was exhausted we had to leave."


Born 8 August 1920 in Simpson, Sask.
Home in Wynyard, Saskatchewan.
Enlisted in Regina in September 1940.
Inducted 30 September 1940.
Manning Depot, Brandon.
RCAF Prince Rupert, B.C.
No.2 ITS, Regina.
No.15 EFTS, Regina (arrived 1 Feb 1941).
No.11 SFTS, Yorkton (11 STFS's 1st class).
(Graduated on 30 June 1941 as Sgt/Pilot).
Posted to Halifax to await transport overseas.
Posted overseas in July 1941.
Sent to No. 61 OTU, Heston.
Posted to 412 Squadron in September 1941.
Served there with John Magee.
Commissioned December 1941.
Flew 3 (4?) patrols in the battle of Dieppe.
Tour expired, he did 57 OTU for 6 months.
Sent back to Canada on leave Dec. 1943.
Returned to England in January 1944.
Briefly with 401 Squadron then
Reassigned to 412 Squadron 16 March 1944.
Flew with Screwball Beurling for a short time
(Screwball was "A" Flight C/O, Barry was "B").
412 Landed at Beny-sur-Mer on 14 June.
Shot down by flak 7 July 1944.
Amazingly, he was liberated a month later
(by Patton's Army from Stalag 221 at Rennes).
Made it back to England.
Sent back to Canada.
Assigned to Ferry Command.

Recommended for an award for defending a
crippled B-17 & its jumping crew from FW190s.
After running out of ammo, he used dummy
attacks to drive them away.

Sadly, Barry has fired up his Merlin one last
time (17 July 2017 I believe). Godspeed Sir !


Sofia Broadcasts Air Raid Warning; Ruhr District Hit
British Drop 5,000 Tons of Bombs on Hun Industrial Areas

London, Sept. 17, 1942 — (CP) — Mysterious balloons laden with explosives were reported over Hungary tonight, about twenty-four hours after the ever-strengthening British air arm had delivered a devastating smash with hundreds of bombers on the Ruhr Valley and the German city of Wiesbaden.
The attack on Hungary, signaled by the Budapest radio, which warned Hungarians that a large number of balloons were loose over the country, was succeeded by a blackout of the principal Bulgarian radio station at Sofia.
Sofia went off the air in the middle of a broadcast after an announcer shouted into his microphone: "Air raid warning Bulgarians, keep calm!"
Hungarians were requested to report such balloons immediately. The Vichy News Agency reported the balloons trail explosive or incendiary material on hanging cables and are intended to catch in telephone and high tension wires and cause short circuits.
The attack on Bulgaria followed a Moscow radio report that Bulgarian police had raided the Soviet Consulate at the Black Sea port of Varna last Tuesday and committed a number of outrages, including robbery of consulate funds. The Soviet Minister in Sofia has protested to the Bulgarian Government, Moscow said.
The Berlin radio claimed that the consulate had been ordered closed by the Bulgarian Government.

Drop 5,000 Tons of Bombs
Meanwhile the British Air Ministry News Service reported that last night's R.A.F.-R.C.A.F. raid on the Ruhr had brought the tonnage of bombs dropped on Germany so far this month to almost 5,000. The raiders lost thirty-nine planes last night, but shot down two Nazi aircraft.
Continuing the air attacks today, Coastal Command planes hit two Axis ships with torpedoes off the Norwegian coast and Canadian fighter pilots shot down a Nazi plane and damaged another in air combats over the French coast.
Pilot Officer L. Powell of Edmonton was credited with destroying a Focke-Wulf 190, while Pilot Officer W. B. Needham of Wynyard, Sask., damaged another. It was the first score for both pilots.
The story of the devastating smash by hundreds of bombers on the industrial Ruhr Valley and a dusk attack on Wiesbaden was told in more detail by the Air Ministry tonight.
One officer commanding a flight of Halifax bombers who was over the Ruhr about twenty minutes on reconnaissance said that during that time his planes were the target of the area's heaviest defenses,
"We could feel the explosion of shells just beneath us and sometimes hear them," he said.
British, pilots reported sighting many German fighters during the raid.

Immense Fires
One sergeant pilot, who is a veteran of three trips over Hamburg and others over Bremen and Oldenburg, said he could see immense fires in the Ruhr as his plane crossed the Netherlands coast on the way home.
This pilot brought his bomber home, although it was badly hit by cannon fire from German fighters.
In a spectacular case, sometimes just above the sea, two Spitfires pursued two German Focke-Wulf 190's across the Channel today and shot down one and damaged the other so severely it probably was lost too, the Air Ministry News Service said in a report of another action.
The Spitfires attacked the Germans after they had dropped bombs on a south coast town. They chased them eighty miles to the vicinity of Le Havre. One German plunged into the sea and the second disappeared over the French coast, trailing white smoke.
The strong force which hit the Ruhr last night probably was made up of 800 "night-destroyer" planes.
In ten night raids in the first sixteen days of September the R.A.F. thus had absorbed a loss of 128 planes, but these were only a fraction of the hundreds which had swarmed over the Reich on all but one of these attacks.

Large Force Involved
The wording of the communiqué on the Ruhr assault indicated the force was the largest involved lately, but it was specifically stated that it was not a 1,000-bomber affair.
A United States flight sergeant with the R.C.A.F. described the fires set as "not so concentrated as in the 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne, but they covered a wider area."
Some of the fires that spread over a wide area were declared very large.
The industrial haze which hangs over the Ruhr Valley obstructed the fliers' visibility, Canadian pilots reported on their return. Only light cloud formations, however, were encountered.
Sergeant Benoit Levasseur of Clair, N.B., was so busy getting away from flak and searchlights that he could not see the flash of a two-ton bomb which he dropped. He reported fires burning in the target area. Other pilots also said that large blazes were roaring when they left.
Meanwhile, the mystery of what caused the terrific explosion reported after the recent raid on Wilhelmshaven was cleared up today with the announcement that it had been attributed to the blasting of a large gasoline depot by a seven man Lancaster crew which included four Canadians.
The explosion lit up the countryside for miles around, making airplanes clearly visible in the sky.
Sergeant-Air Gunner Lorne Thompson of Toronto, one of the Canadians in the crew, said:
"I have never seen anything like that explosion. Instead of the localized flash of a bomb going off, we were shaken to the core by a tremendous explosion. Even at our height it lit up the interior of the aircraft like a photographer's flood-light"
Other Dominion fliers in the crew were Sergeant Charles Trudell of Windsor, Ont.; "Flight Sergeant Daniel Robertson of Cornwall, Ont. and Flight Sergeant Fred Kruger of Bede, Man.
In each of the nine major raids carried out in September, the R.A.F.-R.C.A.F. dropped a greater weight of bombs on German soil than the Nazi Air Force loosed on Britain in any single night.

Low-Level Attack
The Wiesbaden raid, aimed at crippling manufacture of precision instruments such as the surgical tools made there, involved a flight in daylight of more than 400 miles over enemy territory, probably at low level to escape anti-aircraft fire. Wiesbaden first was raided on the night of Aug, 24 along with Frankfurt on the upper Rhineland.
Meanwhile, new evidence appeared to attest to the irreparable damage done to German industry by sustained bombing. R.A.F. photographs show great areas of destruction in the industrial heart of Germany and underground reports said that in many instances the enemy's strained manpower was unable to cope with the rate of destruction.
Spitfire fighters intercepted high-level enemy planes over the Channel and turned them back home three times this morning.
Two enemy fighter planes flew over this afternoon and dropped bombs at a place, on the south coast, causing some damage and a few casualties. One of these raiders was shot down by British fighters. Enemy raiders attacked an East Anglican town tonight, causing some property damage with incendiaries and high explosives.
The only casualty reported was a woman who died of shock.
An enemy bomber was reported destroyed, but there was no indication whether it was in this raid.


Bombing Trains, Buildings, Battling Foe in Dogfight
Day’s Work For Canadians
Four German Fighters Shot Down,
Others Damaged in Sunday Operations
— Boys in Great Spirits On Return

With the R.C.A.F. Somewhere in England, Jan. I8, 1943 - (CP Cable) - Adding to the fury of Britain's renewed aerial assault on the enemy, Canadian Spitfire pilots Sunday destroyed four German fighters, damaged a number of others and successfully attacked several locomotives inside France in their biggest day's operations of recent months.

Three Planes Missing
Pilots from three Canadian squadrons took part in the operations, which ended in what several described as one of the biggest dogfights they had been in. Three Canadian planes are missing.
The Canadian squadrons were led by S/Ls Bud Malloy, of Halifax; Fred Kelly, of Beaverton, Ont., and Keith Hodson, D.F.C., of London, Ont. While some planes remained thousands of feet over France to guard against enemy fighters, designated pilots dived for attacks on trains and buildings with cannon and machine-gun fire. In some cases a lone pilot would attack a locomotive. Varying the technique for other cases; a succession of machines streaked in for one attack after another, and pilots on watch high up reported plumes of steam from damaged engines rising up at a number of points.
Kelly; F/L Dick Ellis, of Montreal; P/O M. Johnston, of Selkirk, Man., and P/O Ed Gimbel, of Chicago, shot down the fighters.
"I got in about a three-second burst at one coming almost head-on," said Ellis. "I saw him go right into the ground!”
P/O L. W. Powell, of Edmonton, a D.F.C.-decorated engine-buster with more than a score of locomotives to his credit, added another when he raked a freight train from end to end.
Sgt W. J. (Jock) Kinniard, of 12424 102nd street, Edmonton, flew No. 2 with Powell, and said: "I saw only a big cloud of smoke on the first run and could not see anything to shoot at after Powell had gone over the engine ahead of me.”
On the second run Kinniard managed to get in a burst of fire at the engine, while Powell was strafing a gun post near the tracks.

Had to Race For Home
P/O Bob Earle, of 60 East Drive, Victoria, B.C., and Sgt. A. M. B. Ketterson, of 3652 Northcliffe Avenue, Montreal, damaged an engine at the outskirts of a shunting yard. On the way out Earle fired at three Focke-Wulf 190's and later was attacked by three others when without ammunition. He had to race for home.
F/L Barry Needham, of Wynyard, Sask., shared in attacks on two locomotives with Sgt. G. L. Marshal, of 2982 West 3rd avenue, Vancouver, and P/O K. I. Robb, of Lachine, Que.
F/L J. D. Hall, of 3 Ridgeway road, Toronto, attacked three trains. Other locomotives were fired on by F/O Hugh Godefroy, of 3 Oriole Parkway, Toronto; F/L Frank Grant, of Brockville; F/O Dave McKay of Winnipeg, and Sgt. E. J. Levesque, of 71 Melrose Avenue, Ottawa.
Up top, engagements with enemy fighters were going on while the Spitfires thundered back and forth at a low altitude for their strafing activities.
"The one I got came at me from an angle," said Johnston. "I pulled away from him and saw tracers going by me. Then I got behind him and got in a long burst."
P/O E. J. Roff, of Richmond, Que., scored damage on two enemy aircraft during the fray, and Malloy and P/O D. J. McCrimmon, of Sylvan Lake, Alta., each scored a single damaged.
Godefroy notched strikes on two enemy fighters in addition to a locomotive he hit earlier. Others damaging Nazi fighters were F/L D. G. Murray, D.F.C., of Halifax, and Sgt. Frank B. Evans, of South Porcupine, Ont.
Altogether it was a great day for Canadians in the fighter command and the boys were in great spirits as their planes shuttled off for the channel crossing after news got around that the R.A.F. had been over Berlin the previous night.


19 March '43, Exercise Spartan - Needham, "Pip" Powell & J.H. McLean under canvas


Five German Targets Heavily Hit by Allies; 20 Hun Planes Downed

London, March 23, 1944 - (AP) - Strong forces of Allied bombers, following up a record 3,360-ton bombardment of Frankfurt by the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. last night, carried out a sweeping series of daylight attacks against five other German targets today and a powerful escort of fighters shot down at least 20 enemy planes as the Nazi air force came up in strength.
Twenty-seven American bombers and six fighters were lost as the United States 8th Air Force used probably more than 1,500 planes in bombing rail yards, war factories and air bases in Northwest Germany.
It was the 13th attack against German targets in March and the sixth strong blow in nine days.
Meanwhile a force of nearly 200 R.A.F. Bostons and American medium bombers attacked without loss the French railway centre of Creil for the third time in a week and also Nazi airfields at Beauvais-Tille and Beaumont-le-Roger.

Struck in Five Waves
The raiders swept over targets in five waves in weather so clear that the airmen could see nearly 50 miles, but in all that territory only a single enemy aircraft, a Junkers 88, was spotted. Two Canadian Spitfire pilots, F/O D. C. Laubman of Edmonton and F/L W. B. Needham of Wynyard, Sask., sent it down in flames
Later R.A.F. Typhoon fighter-bombers and R.A.F. and Allied Mitchells and Bostons attacked military objectives in Northern France.
The Germans had no time to recover from the daylight operations before air raid warnings were sounded in the Reich against R.A.F. night attackers. At 9 p.m. (4 p.m. E.D.T.), the Berlin radio warning system broadcast: "A number of nuisance raiders are over North­western Germany."
United States Strategic Air Force headquarters announced strong formations of heavy bombers hit the railway yards at Hamm; an air station at Achmer; a bomber base at Handorf; a war factory at Munster and the Messerschmitt production centre at Brunswick.
No fewer than 5,000 Allied planes had gone deep into the Reich in the 24 hours ending at 1 p.m., raining down at least 6,000 tons of bombs — a rate of approximately 250 tons every hour and more than four tons every minute.
In this 24-hour period the attack cost a total of 73 bombers and 13 fighters.
The bomb tonnage hurled on Frankfurt, one of the big centers of the I. G. Farbenindustrie Chemical Works and home of important aircraft plants, was described by the Air Ministry as a record for one raid.

Lose 33 at Frankfurt
Thirty-three planes, including seven Canadians, were lost in the attack on Frankfurt. This was 11 more than the last 1,000-plane raid Saturday when Frankfurt also was the main target, but seven less than on the first of the 1,000-plane attacks which was against Stuttgart March 15.
Frankfurt was hit shortly before 11 p.m. with a half-hour blow. An hour later a follow-up force of R.A.F. Mosquitos went over and the airmen in these fleet craft reported huge columns of smoke and fire visible as far as 200 miles away.
For the Canadian Bomber Group it was the second heavy attack in five nights and at least six squadrons were in the raiding force. W/C Bill Swetman, D.F.C., of Kapuskasing, led the Thunderbird Squadron on his 53rd sortie.
"Fires were visible for 150 miles from Frankfurt," said F/Sgt. Harry Grayson of London, Ont.


Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, Aug. 13, 1944 — The Department of National Defense For Air today issued Casualty List No. 960 of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing next-of-kin of those named from Ontario include:

Missing After Air Operations:

NEEDHAM, William Barry, Flt.-Lieut. Wynyard. Sask.


Air Force Casualties

Ottawa, 29 Aug. 1944 - The Department of National Defense for Air today issued Casualty List No. 974 of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Showing next of kin of those named from Ontario

Previously Reported Missing on Active Service, Now Reported Safe:

BRADSHAW, Thomas Richard, W/O, Edmonton.
BROWN, Robert Gordon, F/L, Pte, Brown, D.E. (wife), CWAC, Hamilton.
NEEDHAM, William Barry, F/L, Wynyard, Sask.
REID, Norman Leslie, W/O, Edmonton.
WALZ, Donald Melvin, F/L, Moose Jaw.

Previously Reported Missing on Active Service, Now Reported Prisoners of War (Germany)

BAMFORD. Jack, D.F.C., FO. Mrs.Jack Bamford (wife), 158 Cameron Ave. Hamilton.


Victories Include :

20 Dec. 1943
17 Sep. 1944
23 Mar. 1944
one FW190
one FW190
1/2 Ju88
Destroyed *

0.5 / 0 / 2 or 3?

15 March 1942, the 1st time he fired his guns in anger, he helped sink 1 & damage 4 E-Boats

* Shared with Don Laubman "On March 23rd, a sunny clear day for a change, two wings spent the noon hour escorting Marauders on another visit to the yards at Creil. When over the town, at 14,000 feet, F/O D. C. Laubman of the Falcons picked out a Ju.88 flying on the deck far below, and with his team-mate, F/L W. B. Needham, plunged to attack. Needham passed Laubman in the dive and got in the first bursts; then Don closed in and elicited some return fire from the Hun. The port engine of the Junkers burst into flames and, as the pilot made a wheels-up landing in a large field, four of the crew scrambled out.
This operation was the last on which (Buck) McNair led his wing in action."
(from The RCAF Overseas - The Fifth Year (volume 2)


Read more on Needham here & here & here




Thanks to Dave Blais for the top photo and contact info !

top     home

All content should be considered the property of the contributers and/or The Canadian Fighter Pilot & Air Gunner Museum - unless otherwise noted