Saturday 23 April 2011

Sergeant Robert Percy Barr, DCM

Born on 6 March 1898 on South Mountain, Ontario - son of William Barr, Oxford Mills, Ontario - brother of Private Thomas Murray Barr, 38th Battalion, CEF - attestation form notes trade as farmer, single, no current military membership, previously served one year with 56th Regiment in Kemptville, height of 5 feet 7.5 inches, chest of 39 inches, dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair, Presbyterian.

Joined the 109th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Lindsay, Ontario, on 6 March 1916 (number 724051) - trained at Lindsay and Barriefield, Ontario - sailed for England on 17 July 1915 - trained at Camp Witley - taken on the strength of the 38th Battalion in France on 4 or 6 December 1916 - wounded on 22 February 1917 - sent to 13th Field Ambulance with gun shot wound to the left thigh and left cheek - rejoined the battalion on 6 April 1917 - died on 30 October 1917 of wounds received that day - buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery (grave I.B.5), Belgium.

A letter to Sergeant Barr's family from Lieutenant A.D. Stalker, his officer commanding, dated 20 November 1917 reads:
It is with deep regret that I write these few lines to you, to express my sincere sympathy for you in your recent bereavement[.] I have purposely delayed writing until this date so as to be sure of the truth of the report[.] The official report has now reached us, with the location of Sergeant Barr's last resting place, which I have just given to his brother. Although I had only known Sergeant Barr for a comparitively [sic] short time, I had found him to be one of the most dependable and trustworthy fellows I have ever known[.] He was a great favoriet [sic] with all the members of A Coy [who] realise that they have lost in Sergt Barr one of their best friends.

I truly realize the emptiness of mere words in a case of this kind, but I write in hope that when time has dulled the edge of your bitter grief the, the knowledge that others recognized the sterling worth of your son might be of some consolation to you.
Recommended for an unnamed decoration, likely a Military Medal - no award - unit recommendation 1 March 1917: "For conspicuous work during the raid carried out by this Battn on the enemy trenches Feb 22/17."

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal - citation: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of bombers. At a critical moment he established a block on an exposed flank, and with great gallantry and determination held in check superior numbers of the enemy until artillery support could be obtained. Throughout the entire action he encouraged his small party by his cheerfulness and personal example, undoubtedly giving the enemy the impression that the block was held in much greater strength than was actually the case." - unit recommendation dated 3 July 1917 - "During attack on Avion Trench June 27/17 this N.C.O. showed great judgement and courage in placing a block in the trench in our advanced position and holding our flank with only six bombers, against very great odds."

(My sincere thanks to Roy Brown and Sylvia Armstrong for additional documents and imagery on Sergeant Barr).

(sources: Library and Archives Canada (, online attestation papers; Canadian War Museum, 19740281-001, Manu 58F 2 3, 207th Canadian Infantry Battalion and 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Nominal Roll; The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum, A400-0007, Master Personnel List for the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force; Canadian War Museum, 19680229-001, Manu 58C 1 2.18, Honours and Awards, 38th Battalion (Records of recommendations for honours and awards and mentioned in dispatches 19161121 19190117); miscellaneous material on Barr from Mr. Roy Brown and Mrs. Sylvia Armstrong)


Melanie K said...

Hello - I Googled Percy Barr and found your blog. I recently posted a blog story on Percy Barr on our site. It very likely the same person.

Have a look - it my be of interest!

Ken said...

Hi Melanie,

Thanks for your comment and an interesting post. Unfortunately, my Percy Barr is not the same man as your's. Sgt Barr of the 38th died in October 1917. However, a quick search of the Library and Archives Canada website revealed a handful of Percy Barrs who joined the Canadian military. Your Percy Barr is undoubtedly one of those men.