Wraith, James Osborn Barker


He was the second son of Major Herbert Osborn Wraith and Louise Marian Wraith (née Barker), of The Crift, Lakeside, Ulverton.

He went to Cambridge with an Exhibition to St. John’s and a Kitchener War Memorial scholarship. There he obtained a First Class in the Classical Tripos, Part I, in 1933, and another First in the Law Tripos, Part II, the following year. He was appointed a MacMahon Law Student, and later was articled to Roche Son & Neale, a firm of solicitors.

When war broke out he was an Assistant Administration Officer in the Legal Branch of the Air Ministry. He could have remained on the civilian side, but preferred to join the RAF and was given a commission as a Pilot Officer in the Intelligence Branch in 1940. His work on the ground at a South Wales aerodrome did not give him enough to do.  He said “I am not even earning my salary”.

So he returned to the Air Ministry for a time as a civilian and then joined up again as an ordinary aircraftsman. After his training in 1941, much of it in South Rhodesia, he again obtained a commission, qualifying as a Pilot Officer (Observer).

Wraith was killed on his first active service flight. He had been posted to 1 Overseas Air Delivery Flight, and he and his crew were tasked with the delivery of a Wellington Ic bomber (HE105) to Bathhurst in the Gambia. The aircraft reached Gibraltar safely, but crashed when leaving in the early morning of October 6th 1942.   During take-off from the airfield, the Wellington turned at only five hundred feet and flew into the cliffs. There were no survivors from the five-man crew. All are commemorated on the Gibraltar Memorial, which commemorates airmen and sailors buried at sea.

Wraith was twenty-nine years old when he died.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Wraith
  • Forenames or initials: James Osborn Barker
  • House: College
  • Years in School: 1926-1931
  • Rank: Flying Officer
  • Regiment: Overseas Air Delivery Unit (RAFVR)
  • Date of Birth: 20th December 1912
  • Date of Death: 6th October 1942
  • How Died: Killed on Active Service
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner F1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Commemorated on the Gibraltar Memorial