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Ralph Hammond Cecil Barker (born 21 October 1917, Feltham, Middlesex – died 16 May 2011) was an English non-fiction author with over twenty-five books to his credit. He wrote mainly about the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Air Force (RAF) operations in the First and Second World Wars, and about cricket.
Feltham is a large town in the London Borough of Hounslow, west London, England, west of Twickenham, south-west of Hounslow and north of Walton-on-Thames.
Middlesex is an ancient county in southeast England. It is now entirely within the wider urbanised area of London. Its area is now also mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in other neighbouring ceremonial counties. It was established in the Anglo-Saxon system from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official unit until 1965. The historic county includes land stretching north of the River Thames from 17 miles (27 km) west to 3 miles (5 km) east of the City of London with the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills as the other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, was the second smallest county by area in 1831.
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was the air arm of the British Army before and during the First World War, until it merged with the Royal Naval Air Service on 1 April 1918 to form the Royal Air Force. During the early part of the war, the RFC supported the British Army by artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance. This work gradually led RFC pilots into aerial battles with German pilots and later in the war included the strafing of enemy infantry and emplacements, the bombing of German military airfields and later the strategic bombing of German industrial and transport facilities.
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He was educated at Hounslow College, and on leaving school joined the Sporting Life in 1934. Subsequently, he went into banking. He had started writing, and several of his sketches were used in West End revues.
The Sporting Life was a British newspaper published from 1859 until 1998, best known for its coverage of horse racing and greyhound racing. Latterly it has continued as a multi-sports website.
West End theatre is a common term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of "Theatreland" in and near the West End of London. Along with New York City's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world. Seeing a West End show is a common tourist activity in London.
A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance, and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932. Though most famous for their visual spectacle, revues frequently satirized contemporary figures, news or literature. Similar to the related subforms of operetta and musical theatre, the revue art form brings together music, dance and sketches to create a compelling show. In contrast to these, however, revue does not have an overarching storyline. Rather, a general theme serves as the motto for a loosely-related series of acts that alternate between solo performances and dance ensembles.
Following the outbreak of World War II, in 1940 he joined the RAF as a wireless operator and air gunner. He flew with Nos. 47 and 39 squadrons on torpedo missions against Axis ships bringing supplies to Rommel's forces in the Western Desert in North Africa. These missions, from bases in Malta and North Africa, led to heavy losses amongst the Bristol Beaufort aircraft carrying them out. Barker's time in this theatre of war was ended by a crash in which his pilot and navigator died. He returned to Britain, and switched to flying transport aircraft. He completed two thousand flying hours before he was demobilised in 1946.
A radio operator refers to a person who is responsible for the operations of a radio system. The profession of radio operator has become largely obsolete with the automation of radio-based tasks in recent decades. Nevertheless, radio operators are still employed in maritime and aviation fields. In most cases radio transmission is now only one of several tasks of a radio operator. In the United States, the title of Certified Radio Operator is granted to those who pass a test issued by the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
An air gunner also known as aerial gunner is a member of an air force aircrew who operates flexible-mount or turret-mounted machine guns or autocannons in an aircraft. Modern aircraft weapons are usually operated automatically without the need for a dedicated air gunner, but older generation bombers used to carry up to eight air gunners.
The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
He briefly went back to banking, before going into civil aviation as a radio operator. At the end of 1948, he rejoined the RAF and went to Germany as a public relations officer in connection with the Berlin Airlift. He spent two years in service broadcasting at BFN Hamburg. He was then posted to the Air Ministry to work on official war narratives.
Civil aviation is one of two major categories of flying, representing all non-military aviation, both private and commercial. Most of the countries in the world are members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and work together to establish common standards and recommended practices for civil aviation through that agency.
Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising. But now, advertising is also a part of greater PR Activities. An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article. The aim of public relations is to inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favorable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions. Public relations professionals typically work for PR and marketing firms, businesses and companies, government, and public officials as PIOs and nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit organizations. Jobs central to public relations include account coordinator, account executive, account supervisor, and media relations manager.
Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.
His first book, Down in the Drink, was published in 1955, the first of many on the subject of military aviation. Barker left the RAF in 1961 to write full-time. He was a frequent contributor of feature articles to the Sunday Express .
Military aviation is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines for the purposes of conducting or enabling aerial warfare, including national airlift capacity to provide logistical supply to forces stationed in a theater or along a front. Airpower includes the national means of conducting such warfare, including the intersection of transport and war craft. Military aircraft include bombers, fighters, transports, trainer aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft.
He turned to cricket writing in 1964, with Ten Great Innings. John Arlott, reviewing Ten Great Bowlers, its follow-up, described Barker as "a master of the reconstruction of past cricket matches". His most substantial book on cricket is a history of Tests between England and Australia, published in 1969, which included a report of every match and a summary of each series. The statistics were provided by Irving Rosenwater.The cricket historian David Frith said that his most significant contribution to cricket might have been his research into the death in 1912 of the former England fast bowler Tom Richardson, which proved that the rumours that he had committed suicide were untrue.
Leslie Thomas John Arlott, OBE was an English journalist, author and cricket commentator for the BBC's Test Match Special. He was also a poet and wine connoisseur. With his poetic phraseology, he became a cricket commentator noted for his "wonderful gift for evoking cricketing moments" by the BBC.
The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia. The Ashes are regarded as being held by the team that most recently won the Test series. If the test series is drawn, the team that currently holds the Ashes retains the trophy. The term originated in a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, immediately after Australia's 1882 victory at The Oval, its first Test win on English soil. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and "the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia". The mythical ashes immediately became associated with the 1882–83 series played in Australia, before which the English captain Ivo Bligh had vowed to "regain those ashes". The English media therefore dubbed the tour the quest to regain the Ashes.
Irving Rosenwater was an English cricket researcher and author whose best-known work was Sir Donald Bradman - A Biography (1978).
Barker played regularly for the RAF's cricket club, the Adastrians, and subsequently for several clubs in Surrey, including West Surrey, whom he captained for a number of years.
Barker was married to performer Diana Darvey from 1995 until her death on 11 April 2000. Barker died on 16 May 2011, aged 93.
William George "Billy" Barker, was a Canadian First World War fighter ace and Victoria Cross recipient. He is the most decorated serviceman in the history of Canada.
Sir Alec Victor Bedser was a professional English cricketer, primarily a medium-fast bowler. He is widely regarded as one of the best English cricketers of the 20th century.
Thomas Walter Hayward was an English first-class cricketer who played for Surrey and England between the 1890s and the outbreak of World War I. He was primarily an opening batsman, noted especially for the quality of his off-drive. Neville Cardus wrote that he "was amongst the most precisely technical and most prolific batsmen of any time in the annals of cricket." He was only the second batsman to reach the landmark of 100 first-class centuries, following WG Grace. In the 1906 English season he scored 3,518 runs, a record aggregate since surpassed only by Denis Compton and Bill Edrich in 1947.
Harold Thomas William Hardinge, known as Wally Hardinge, was an English professional sportsman who played both cricket and association football for England. His professional cricket career lasted from 1902 to 1933 during which he played first-class cricket for Kent County Cricket Club and made one Test match appearance for England. He was described as being "for years ... one of the leading opening batsmen in England".
Dr. Herbert Vivian "Ranji" Hordern was an Australian cricketer who played in 7 Tests from 1911 to 1912. He was the first major leg-spin and googly bowler to play for Australia. His nickname, "Ranji", came from his dark complexion, and is a reference to the famous Indian cricketer K S Ranjitsinhji. He was a member of the Hordern family, well known as retailers in Sydney.
Peter Samuel Heine was a South African cricketer who played in fourteen Tests from 1955 to 1962. On his Test debut, he took five wickets in the first innings against England at Lord's in 1955.
1930 was the 37th season of County Championship cricket in England and will always be remembered for the remarkable batting performances of Australia's Don Bradman. Australia won the Test series 2–1. Lancashire regained the championship to complete four titles in five seasons.
England won the 1926 Ashes series against Australia, winning the last Test of the series after the first four matches were drawn.
The Australian cricket team toured England in the 1953 season to play a five-match Test series against England for The Ashes.
Wing Commander William Harold Nelson Shakespeare was an English aviator who flew for the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force in World War I. He was awarded both the Air Force Cross and the Military Cross during his time in the military. Shakespeare later worked as a civilian pilot for Handley Page, captaining the first passenger flight from London to Athens, and eventually became president of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA). He also served as president of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, for whom he had earlier played first-class cricket.
1926 was the 33rd season of County Championship cricket in England. England regained the Ashes and Lancashire won the championship.
The Australian cricket team toured England during the 1902 English cricket season. The five-Test series between the two countries has been fondly remembered; in 1967 the cricket writer A. A. Thomson described the series as "a rubber more exciting than any in history except the Australia v West Indies series in 1960–61". Australia had won the previous three Test rubbers between the two countries, and now won their fourth successive series, by two matches to one with two draws. In the process they "beat the records of all their predecessors in the country" by losing only two of 39 matches during the tour, their defeats being against England in the Fifth Test and in the first of their two fixtures against Yorkshire. The remaining 37 matches gave 23 wins for Australia and 14 draws.
Arthur Neville Wrigley was an English cricket scorer and statistician. He was the first scorer for BBC radio cricket commentary.
The Australian cricket team in England in 1880 played nine first-class matches including one Test, which was the first ever played in England. They were captained by W.L. Murdoch. The team had difficulty in arranging fixtures against the counties, and prior to the Test match in early September had played only four matches that are now rated as first-class, despite having already been in England for almost four months.
John Ashby Lester was an American cricketer, active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lester was one of the Philadelphian cricketers who played from the end of the 19th century until the outbreak of World War I. His obituary in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, described him as "one of the great figures in American cricket." During his career, he played in 53 matches for the Philadelphians, 47 of which are considered first class. From 1897 until his retirement in 1908, Lester led the batting averages in Philadelphia and captained all the international home matches.
The Philadelphian cricket team toured England in the summer of 1897. Starting on 7 June at Oxford, the tour lasted for two months and ended in late July at The Oval. The Americans played 15 first-class matches captained by George Stuart Patterson.
The English cricket team in Australia in 1901–02 lost the Test series to Australia, who came from one down to win 4–1 and thus retained The Ashes. The England side was a private venture of Archie MacLaren at the invitation of the Melbourne Cricket Club, after MCC had declined to send a team. Prior to this, all Test tours of Australia had been privately organised, but MCC took over the responsibility with the following tour in 1903–4. George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes, KS Ranjitsinjhi, Stanley Jackson and CB Fry were all unavailable.
The England cricket team toured Australia in 1928–29. England, known as the MCC in matches outside the Tests, retained The Ashes, winning the first four Tests and losing the last for a 4–1 series victory.
Air Vice Marshal Charles Hubert Boulby Blount, was an English soldier, airman and first-class cricketer.
Reginald Edgar Gilbert Fulljames MC was an English cricketer and an officer in both the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Air Force (RAF), serving in both world wars.