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Acting Squadron Officer Diana Mary BARTON O.B.E.(1912-2001)

Acting Squadron Officer Diana Mary BARTON O.B.E.1348 Women's Auxiliary Air Force (1912-2001) was unique in the history of Balloon Command:

She was born on the 24th January 1912 in Reading. In 1938 she volunteered for the Women's Legion,

This was launched in July 1915 by the Marchioness of Londonderry, the Women's Legion eventually became the largest totally voluntary body in World War I. It was not a part of the Ministry of War and thus independent of Government control, but its members adopted a military-style organisation and uniform, which clearly caused some enthusiasm for women to get more heavily involved in war. In England cooking and catering for the army was work the volunteers became involved in.  The Government was very pleased with the way this organisation began and grew. It made the Government formally organise female labour in the latter half of the war. The organisation was still in existence in the 1930's.

This obviously gave her a flavour for serving her country and within 12 months she had volunteered for The Women's Auxiliary Airforce (WAFF) and became 880136 Corporal Miss Diana Mary BARTON.

The London Gazette shows her being gazetted on the 3rd December 1940 as having an appointment as Assistant Section Officers (ASC), and she was now commissioned as 1348 Ass.Sec.Off. Miss Diana  Mary BARTON.

 

She was then made up and gazetted on the 27th March 1942 as a Section Officer (Temp), she became an instructor for Barrage Balloon Units.

 

 She was the first woman to command a Barrage Balloon Unit in the United Kingdom and this was based in Grosvenor Square, London.

She was later posted to Bomber Command and subsequently became a Staff Officer with Transport Command. She was awarded the 1939- 1945 War and Defence Medals. In 1944 the Military Order of the British Empire for her pioneering work in RAF Balloon Command. The Air Efficiency Award ( See Link Air Efficiency Award) which was awarded on 4th September 1947 (Source: Christopher Brooks- The Air Efficiency Award 1942-2005).

She became an Acting Squadron Officer in 1943. Many members of Balloon Command remember her with great affection and warmth for the way she helped raise the profile of women in World War II.

In the Gazette of 29th December 1944 (Issue 36866) she was gazetted by the King as an Additional Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

 

If anyone  has anymore to add to her history then please contact: peter.garwood@bbrclub.org as I am sure there is much that was not known about her career in and after WWII.

Here are her medals and other ephemera associated with her career

NB These may take some time to download..be patient!!:

The miniature set is on the left and the OBE (Mily) is Central and the British War Medal (orange/green) and Defence Medal (red/blue) together with the Silver Air Efficiency Award (green/white)is on the right.

This was her ticket for the service of dedication held at St.Paul's Cathedral May 1960

This was her order of service for the of dedication held at St.Paul's Cathedral May 1960

This was her ticket for the service of commemoration held at St.Paul's Cathedral October 1963

This was her order of service for the commemoration held at St.Paul's Cathedral October 1960

This was her Statutes for the OBE award.