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William George Billy Barker William George Barker was born in Dauphin Manitoba on November 3 1984 When he was a boy he spent most of his free time riding his horse and hunting birds with his shotgun As a teenager he had a great interest in shooting and spent much of his earned money on ammunition While shooting on a variety of shooting ranges around Dauphin and Winnipeg he became quite proficient with the service rifle After his family moved to Winnipeg it seemed natural that he joined the cavalry as his sense of balance on a horse stood him in good stead in the air After completing basic military training Barker went overseas in June 1915 with the First Canadian Mounted Rifles selected as a machine gunner One day after he arrived in France he sat back and watched as a Fokker Eindecker shot down an enemy plane Like many others he decided the best way out of the trenches was to join the Royal Flying Corps At that time the RFC was low on observers and were accepting men with minimal qualifications He was rejected after his first application but reapplied and was accepted at the rank of Corporal After he completed his six days of training as an observer he was given his observers badge and posted to No 9 Squadron in Bertangles France The RFC flew the outdated dangerous to their occupants and sluggish BE2c reconnaissance airplane in their battles These were the same planes they used in the Battle of the Somme on July 1 1916 Amongst the fighting they were also trying to photograph the developments on the front and act as aerial artillery spotters Both of these duties were crucial and also highly dangerous Almost all of the original crews died or were shot down but Barker managed to survive and even shot down a German pilot flying a Roland Scout in July Two weeks later he
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