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May 08 , 2008

Nicky Barr, An Australian Air Ace

A story of courage and adventure


Nicky Barr never deliberately sought danger or adventure, but when confronted with it he had the courage to face it and survive.
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The imperial powers of the nineteenth century, having weakened one another in World War I, destroyed themselves in World War II. In the aftermath of the war, Europe was in shambles. Nearly all of France, Germany, Italy, and Poland had been devastated. Bridges and roads were gone. Rivers and canals were clogged with sunken ships and fallen bridges.…

In 1939, at the age of 23, Nicky Barr was chosen to represent Australia in the international rugby world tour. The day after the squad arrived in England, war was declared and the tour was cancelled. Nicky immediately signed-up to become a fighter pilot in the RAAF and while fighting Rommel's famed Afrika Korp in North Africa, quickly rose through the ranks to become a squadron leader.

In the space of twelve months, Nicky shot down over twelve enemy planes, and was himself shot down three times. The third time, he was seriously wounded, including a leg injury that was to put an end to his rugby playing days, then captured and sent to Italy as a hospitalised prisoner of war. Nicky escaped four times-including once from a moving train. On the fourth escape he successfully evaded recapture and, together with a group of special operation commandoes, took part in a series of clandestine operations behind enemy lines and helped fellow prisoners of war escape.

Nicky Barr earned a reputation amongst allies and enemies alike for his acts of bravery, his selflessness, his dogged determination and his infectious sense of humour. His is a story of adventure, war, courage and mortality, and the love for his wife that sustained him through it all.
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