Lunchtime Lecture: Revisiting the Battle of Barking Creek

At 12.30PM on Friday 23 July, Nick Black will explores the events of the Battle of Barking Creek. This lecture will offer an insight into both the RAF’s preparations for war, and the minds of young, eager fighter pilots in their first taste of aerial combat. This free lecture will be hosted in our London lecture theatre with a live audience.

The lecture will also be live-streamed online via Crowdcast.

Aircraft Formation

Talk Outline

On 6 September 1939, three days after Britain declared war with Nazi Germany, Montagu Hulton-Harrop became the first Royal Air Force fighter pilot to be shot down during the Second World War.

The tragic tale of Hulton-Harrop is worsened by the fact that he was shot down by his own side. Two RAF spitfire pilots faced a court martial and the resulting investigation shed light on many frailties in the famed “Dowding System”.

The Battle of Barking Creek, as it was labelled by RAF personnel, was shrouded in strict secrecy at the time. Throughout the years that followed it became a folk-lore like short anecdote, retold over and over again by historians, journalists, and in the memoires of the pilots involved. Recollections of the incident differed greatly from story to story and details were often completely wrong.

This talk presents the results of the first forensic investigation into the Battle of Barking Creek and the exact series of events that caused the incident. Using previously restricted documents that have recently been released by the National Archives Nick Black will re-construct the incident in its entirety, controverting the popular narrative and giving a thorough analysis of who, or what, was to blame for Hulton-Harrop’s death, and what the RAF learned that helped them in the Battle of Britain less than a year later.

The events surrounding the Battle of Barking Creek offers an insight into the RAF’s preparations for war with Germany and allows a glimpse inside the minds of young, eager and sometimes inexperienced fighter pilots in their first taste of aerial combat. The episode also adds extra context to the lives of some legendary fighter aces including “Sailor” Malan, John Freeborn, and Roger Bushell.


The lecture will take place in our London lecture theatre on Friday 23 July 2021. This lecture will begin at 12.30PM.


This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you register now as tickets are limited. Booking is quick and easy:
Book Now for this free lecture

Please note: That this lecture will also be available to watch remotely via the Museum’s Crowdcast Channel. 

To access the lecture you may need to check your internet browser is compatible. It is currently reported that Google Chrome provides the best experience for using Crowdcast.

About Nick Black

Nick Black is the winner of the RAF Museum’s 2020 Undergraduate Award. Nick has spent most of the past two decades wearing a uniform, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force, and in several roles as a Police Constable within the Civil Nuclear, and Suffolk Constabularies. Nick completed a History degree at University of Suffolk in 2020 and is currently enrolled on a Masters in Public History and Museum Studies at the University of Derby. Nick’s research into the Battle of Barking Creek started whilst working at Bawdsey Radar Museum in 2019 and hopes to publish the results of this research during 2021.

The post Lunchtime Lecture: Revisiting the Battle of Barking Creek appeared first on RAF Museum.