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Anthony Charles Bartley, DFC & Bar (28 March 1919 – 18 April 2001) was a British film and television executive, and fighter pilot. As a Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire fighter ace, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after scoring eight victories against enemy aircraft in the Battle of Britain.

Tony Bartley
Born(1919-03-28)28 March 1919
Dacca, India
Died18 April 2001(2001-04-18) (aged 82)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1939—1945
RankSquadron Leader
UnitNo. 92 Squadron RAF
No. 74 Squadron RAF
Commands heldNo. 111 Squadron RAF
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsDistinguished Flying Cross & Bar
Deborah Kerr
(m. 1945; div. 1959)

Victoria Mann (m. 1965)
RelationsLex Shrapnel (grandson)
Other workTest pilot, television and film executive, and author

Early lifeEdit

Bartley was born in Dacca India, the son of Sir Charles Bartley, an Irish barrister who served as a judge in the Calcutta High Court.

Bartley was educated at Stowe School, a boarding independent school for boys in the civil parish of Stowe, in Buckinghamshire.

RAF careerEdit

In 1938 Bartley learned to fly. He joined the Royal Air Force in 1939 on a short service commission, and was posted to No. 92 (East India) Squadron in November 1939 as it was forming in Tangmere, Sussex with the fighter version of the twin engine Bristol Blenheim.

After the Blenheims were replaced by Spitfires, Bartley fought over Dunkirk during the fall of France and evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force. He flew with the Squadron through the Battle of Britain, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in October 1940.

In March 1941 Bartley was posted as a flight commander to No. 74 Squadron RAF at Manston in Kent. In May 1941 he served as a flying instructor at No. 53 Operational Training Unit and No. 56 Operational Training Unit (OTU), before moving in July 1941 to Vickers-Supermarine as a production test pilot, and made a significant contribution to the further development of the Spitfire. During this time he performed the aerobatics for the film "The First of the Few", which chronicled the life of the Spitfire's designer R. J. Mitchell, as played by Leslie Howard.

In August 1942 Bartley was posted to command of No. 111 Squadron RAF and led it to North Africa for the November Operation Torch landings. He shot down several enemy fighters over Tunisia, including at least three Bf-109s. His tour ended in January 1943 and was awarded a Bar to his DFC the following month. He then served on the staff of No. 83 Group RAF, before departing in October 1944 for the US to attend the Command and General Staff College. In October 1944 he joined RAF Transport Command in the Far East.

At the end of the war Bartley's combat total included 12 (and 1 shared) destroyed, 1 unconfirmed destroyed, 5 'probables' and 8 'damaged'.[1]

Film IndustryEdit

Following his demobilisation, Bartley returned to Vickers-Armstrong as test pilot and sales executive. However his career took a new direction when he moved to Hollywood following his first marriage in 1945 to the actress Deborah Kerr.

After studying film production with MGM, Bartley formed European-American Productions, and wrote and produced television films for Fireside Theatre, MCA and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents. He later joined CBS Films where he was responsible for European sales and production. He then joined Associated-Rediffusion, serving as head of the international division and assistant general manager until 1965, when he moved to Canada to represent Global Television and he wrote a history of Canada for the Canadian Broadcasting Company.

In the late 1960s Bartley was appointed a director of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation in Barbados and in 1971 he moved to Ireland, where he formed Intercontinental Telefilms and continued to write and develop television programmes.

Personal lifeEdit

Bartley married the actress Deborah Kerr in 1945 and they had two daughters, Francesca and Melanie. Through Francesca they have three grandsons, actors Lex Shrapnel and Tom Shrapnel as well as the writer Joe Shrapnel. Bartley and Kerr divorced in 1959 and he married again in 1965 to Victoria Mann, who survived him with their two daughters.


  • Bartley, Anthony. (1984). Smoke Trails in the Sky. William Kimber. ISBN 978-0-7183-0517-8
  • Bartley, Tony. (1997). Smoke Trails in the Sky: The Journals of a Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot. Crecy Publishing Ltd; 2nd edition. ISBN 978-0-947554-63-7

"A Cobra in the Sky". Simon Morris. (1977)


  1. ^ Shores & Williams, 'Aces High' ( grub street 1994), p. 116

External linksEdit