This rather municipal looking open space in the middle of a housing estate has a remarkable story — it’s named after a holder of the Victoria Cross.
Cyril Joe Barton, VC was a WW2 bomber pilot who was educated in a local school at a time when much of New Malden was still fields, and this pocket park was an open field football ground. Aged 19 he volunteered to join the RAF and after training, in September 1943 was assigned to Bomber Command’s No. 78 Squadron, with Barton receiving a commission as a pilot officer three weeks later.
On 30th March 1944, he was flying an attack on Nuremburg, when the plane was attacked and badly damaged. Due to the confusion, three of the 7-man crew bailed out of the plane, leaving him with no navigator, bombardier or wireless operator.
Despite that, he carried on with the mission to bomb Nuremberg and then turned back home. Just over the coast of England, the plane finally ran out of fuel and he crash-landed near Sunderland. The three remaining crewmen survived, but Barton died of his injuries on the way to the hospital.
For his actions in the attack on Nuremberg Barton was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously in June 1944. Later he was posthumously issued the 1939-1945 Star; the Air Crew Europe Star; Defence Medal, and the War Medal 1939-1945.
His Victoria Cross was later donated to the RAF Museum in North London.
Over the years, a number of memorials have been commissioned, including this patch of open green – Barton Green. The area was developed from fields in the 1950s, and appears to have been given the name immediately after the housing development was completed.
The park was revamped in recent years, with the fence surrounding it replaced and some new trees planted.
There also used to be a cricket pavilion next to the green down a side road, which was converted into a theatre, but the building became derelict and was recently demolished.
Candidly, the green isn’t that exciting a place, rather municipal and modest in design, but the bravery of the man it’s named after makes it special.
In recent years, the military valour has been given more prominence, with the local road signs amended to include the medal, and a plaque added to the railings around the park.
A poignant documentary about his life was broadcast on Forces TV in 2015.