Autobiographical Forgetting, Social Forgetting and Situated Forgetting

In Sergio Della Sala (ed.), Forgetting. Psychology Press. pp. 253-284 (2010)
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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 eight enemy planes in his first 35 operational hours. He was shot down three 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, who 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. For 50 years, Nicky Barr never spoke publicly, and rarely privately, of his war-time experiences. He was very much a forgotten and forgetting hero (for further details, see Dornan, 2002). In his first public interview in 2002 on the Australian documentary program “Australian Story”, Nicky explained his 50 year silence by saying

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John Sutton
Macquarie University


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