Posted by: mcfinder | May 18, 2011

Heroes of the Line: Lt. Col. Randle Barnett Barker, DSO & Bar. Royal Fusiliers.

Here is another ‘hero of the line’. This is a series of researched officers and men who were killed during the First World War and whose gravestone we photographed during our ‘cycling the line‘ trip in 2009.

Today’s hero is Lt. Col. Randle Barnett Barker, DSO & Bar. Royal Fusiliers.

Record of Service:

  • Born London, 19/6/1891
  • A career soldier, he gained his first commission to 2/Lt on 17/1/1891
  • Served in India from 11/11/1892 until 10/8/1895
  • Promoted to Lt on 22/7/1893
  • Returned to India on 2/12/1896 and stayed until 30/12/1896
  • Married Elinor Gertrude on 2/6/1897
  • Appointed Adjutant, 1st Royal Fusiliers on 1/10/1898
  • Promoted to Captain on 19/7/1899
  • After 15 years service, Barnett Barker retired from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 5/5/1906
  • Appointed Captain in the Reserve of Officers 21/8/1915
  • Embarked for the Western Front 11/12/1915

Barnett Barker was appointed as a Captain in the Reserve of Officers on 21/8/1915 and had a prodigious war, being Mentioned in Dispatches 5 times and being awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Bar. He gained the DSO during fighting at Delville Wood in late July/early August 1916, and the Bar to the DSO for leadership and bravery at Arras in 1917.

During the War, he was present during the following actions: Vimy Ridge (1916), Delville Wood (1916), Beaumont Hamel (1916), The Ancre advance and Miramont Battle (1917) and Arras (1917). As well as the second Battle of the Somme (1918).

  • Assumed command of 99th Infantry Brigade on 24/1/1918

Lt. Col. Barnett Barker fell in action at Guendecourt during the second Battle of the Somme on 24/3/1918, when he was commanding 99th Infantry Brigade. The Brigade HQ diary records the day as such:

Shells began to fall in and around Guendecourt at 5.45pm. Brigadier General R. Barnett Barker, DSO and Captain E. I. Bell, MC (staff Captain) were killed by a shell.

This shell fire was part of a German offensive that started on 21st March 1918. The diary summarises:

The German offensive began at 4.45am and the events of the following days are summarised in the Narrative of Operations (Appendix VI). Special record must however be made of the serious losses sustained by the Brigade during the fighting. Foremost amongst these were Brigadier General R. Barnett Barker. General Barker had served in the Brigade continuously since it came out to France, except for 3 months when he commanded the 3rd Infantry Brigade in Flanders. As Commanding Officer if the 22nd Royal Fusiliers he had won the respect and affection of everyone in the Brigade and when he succeeded Brigade General R .O Kellett in Command of the Brigade it was with the happiest auguries for the future. (WO95/1370).

He is buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension.

Gravestone of Lt Col R Barnett Barker DSO & Bar

WW1 Medal Entitlement:

  • Distinguish Service Order (LG: 20/10/1916)
  • Bar to the Distinguished Service Order (LG: 14/7/1917)
  • Mentioned in Dispatches: 22/5/1917, 4/1/1917, 15/5/1917, 11/12/1917, 20/5/1918.
  • 1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal


DSO Citation – 20th October 1916

Capt. (temp. Lt-Col.) Randle Barnett Barker, R. Fus.

For conspicuous gallantry during operations. He took over and organised the defences of a wood with great skill, after making a personal reconnaissance of the whole wood under shell and machine gun fire. He has done other fine work and has displayed great personal bravery.

During the fighting that raged in and around Delville Wood during 24th July and 6th August, 1916 Barnett Barker’s regiment (22nd Royal Fusiliers) suffered 267 casualties, killed and wounded.

Bar Citation – 24th July 1917

Capt. And Bt. Maj. (Temp. Lt. Col.) Randle Barnett Barker, DSO., R. Fus.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During an assault his battalion was compelled to withdraw from its objective owing to heavy casualties and to its flank being unsupported. At this most critical moment he reorganised and rallied all the men of his brigade who were within reach, and by his promptitude and fine leadership won back most of the objective, and maintained it until relieved.

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