George Barratt - A World War II hero

Police Auxiliary Messenger George Frederick Barratt was one of several civil defence workers and Coventry police officers announced as recipients of the British Empire Medal and other honours following their conduct in the devastating 1941 enemy air raids on Coventry. It was the death of George’s father while serving as a Special Constable in the terrible Coventry Blitz of November 1940 that inspired George to join the police as a messenger. He told the Midland Daily Telegraph:

‘I wanted to do something worthwhile to show what I thought about it. I was too young to join the ‘Specials’, so I took the job of police messenger as the next best thing.’

Special Constable Frederick Barratt is shown on the left, George in the centre and an extract from the family's scrapbook containing the British Empire Medal and cherished memories and photographs of George.

Over the night of 8th to 9th April 1941, Messenger Barratt was in the lower corridor of a building when it received a direct hit from an enemy bomb, blasting him some considerable distance. Having recovered from the explosion he made his way to the main A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) control centre and was sent out to deliver an urgent message. As bombs continued to fall around him, Messenger Barratt was blown from his bicycle by an explosion. He remounted and continued in his urgent duties only to run into downed telephone wires that inflicted a six inch flesh wound to his neck. Having delivered the urgent communication and returned with a reply, Messenger Barratt received first-aid. Despite being in shock and suffering from a nasty neck injury, he continued to deliver vital messages while enemy ordnance fell upon the city.

Modestly describing his conduct that earned him the British Empire Medal, nineteen year old George added: ‘I was sent out with a message and delivered it.’

As soon as he was old enough, George joined the Special Constabulary in Coventry, before eventually joining the Armed Forces. He later became a draughtsman, working for an engineering company, and died in 1996 aged 75, leaving behind a widow and two daughters, as well as a grandson.