Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The identity of mysterious woman from the picture solved. Wife of fallen RAF pilot

The photo from 70 years ago shows Maria Barr, the daughter of a Polish colonel and the widow of a British pilot of Polish origin. The woman was photographed receiving an award for her fallen husband.

Text from the scan:

MRS. MARIA HARR (Barczynska) holding the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously awarded to her husband, Squadron leader Philip R. Barr. Mrs. Barr arrived at Buckingham Palace in the uniform of the Polish Red Cross, to receive the decoration from the hands of  King George. 

 In an interview alter the ceremony the twenty-year-old widow said: 

 "I found myself in the Palace among 300 other people mostly relations of fallen airmen. All stood in two ranks in alphabetical order for each class of decoration. A court official announced my name, the rank of my husband, and the decoration. King George VI handed it to me personally, saying, 'I am very happy to present to you this military award."

 "I met my husband on the Polish ship Sobieski after the fall of France when we were being evacuated helm St. Jean de Luz. He had been shot down in an air combat over France and with four other British airmen was under the care Polish aviators and their families. 

 "In November last year, I received news that my husband had failed to return from a raid. I would not and still will not believe he is dead. I still hope he lives and will return.  He is a British subject and a Pole by descent. His grandfather's name was Barcczynski, later changed to Barr 

 "I was born in Grodno and studied at Wilno. The war interrupted my studies and I did not graduate until reaching Scotland. I am now working in the Polish Red Cross at Edinburgh. This work helps me forget my loss, but I always hope that my husband will return and get to know Poland, the country of his ancestors."