Harold Starr’s plucky defence of the realm finally came to an end at 15,000ft on August 31, 1940. Luftwaffe bullets had crippled the Squadron Leader’s Hurricane L1830 near Sandwich over Kent during an interception patrol. Managing to bail out, the 25-year-old came under machine gun fire from at least one Messerschmitt that returned as he parachuted to earth. Harold had received life-threatening injuries before, but this time the game was up.
Today, he rests in Swindon at Radnor Street cemetery, one of ‘The Few’ who took to the skies at the height of the Battle of Britain. His contribution to the war effort was honoured in 2015 with a memorial flyover of Spitfires and Hurricanes at the Commonwealth War Graves site.
The commander of 253 Squadron will now be among those that the town will remember as it marks the 100th centenary of the RAF this year.
Military historian Mark Sutton, author of Tell Them of Us, said: ‘Harold Starr is our own Douglas Bader character. His brother Norman was also a pilot and he was killed in 1945.’
‘They were two brave boys and the kind of people we should be paying to tribute to in the centenary year, but they are not alone. Swindon has numerous bomber crew personnel who have not been honoured in the past because people don’t always want to remember what they did.’