chapter  12
32 Pages

Autobiographical forgetting, social forgetting, and situated forgetting: Forgetting in context


We have a striking ability to alter our psychological access to past experiences. Consider the following case. Andrew “Nicky” Barr, OBE, MC, DFC (1915-2006), was one of Australia’s most decorated World War II fighter pilots. He was the top ace of the Western Desert’s 3 Squadron, the pre-eminent fighter squadron in the Middle East, flying P-40 Kittyhawks over Africa. From October 1941, when Nicky Barr’s war began, he flew 22 missions and shot down 8 enemy planes in his first 35 operational hours. He was shot down 3 times, once 25 miles behind enemy lines while trying to rescue a downed pilot. He escaped from prisoner-of-war camps four times, once jumping out of a train as it travelled from Italy into Austria. His wife Dot, whom he married only weeks before the war, waited for him at home. She was told on at least three occasions that he was missing in action or dead.