Ralph Barker

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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 suburban town in the London Borough of Hounslow, located in in south west London, England

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 historic county of England

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.

Royal Flying Corps former air warfare service of the British Army

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.


Life and career

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. [1]

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 term for mainstream professional theatre staged in and near the West End of London

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. [1]

Radio operator 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

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.

Air gunner flight crew responsible for operating aircraft gun armament not directly operated by the pilot

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.

Axis powers Alliance of countries defeated in World War II

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. [1]

Civil aviation all non-military aviation

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 City in Germany

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 use of aircraft by armed forces in combat or other military capacity

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. [1] 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. [2]

John Arlott English sports commentator and writer

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 Test cricket series played between England and Australia

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 Cricket historian and statistician

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. [1]

Barker was married to performer Diana Darvey from 1995 until her death on 11 April 2000. Barker died on 16 May 2011, aged 93. [1]




Other subjects


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Obituary of Ralph Barker, The Daily Telegraph , 20 June 2011.
  2. Wisden Obituaries – 2011: BARKER, RALPH HAMMOND CECIL, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2012 edition. Retrieved 22 September 2016


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