The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. H M Starr
Harold Morley Starr was born in Swindon on 8th September 1914 and educated at Clarence Street School. After the family moved to Bristol he attended Cotham Secondary Modem School.
In March 1934 Starr joined the RAF on a short service commission. After completing a short induction course at No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge, he was posted to 5 ITS Sealand on 3rd April 1934.
Starr joined 14 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Old Sarum on 4th March 1935.
On 5th June 1936 he experienced engine failure in Audax K2028 and crashed at South Marston, near Swindon. Starr was seriously injured and did not return to flying until 28th June 1937, when he joined 59 Squadron at Old Sarum. He moved to 2 Squadron at Hawkinge on 19th January 1938.
In May 1939 Starr went to a staff job at RAF Uxbridge but rejoined 2 Squadron, then at Andover, on 3rd November 1939, again as a Flight Commander. He was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 1st July 1940 and on the 21st went to 245 Squadron at Aldergrove, as a supernumerary Squadron Leader.
Starr was given command of 253 Squadron at Turnhouse on 8th August.
The squadron moved south to Kenley on the 29th and the next day Starr's
aircraft was damaged in combat over Redhill. He returned to base, unhurt.
On 31st August 1940 Starr was shot down by enemy fighters during an
interception patrol. He baled out and is believed to have been machine-gunned by an enemy aircraft as he fell dead at Hammill Brickworks near Eastry. His Hurricane L1830 came down near Grove Ferry.
Starr is buried at Radnor Street Cemetery, Swindon.
In early 1945 Starr's brother, W/Cdr. Norman John Starr, who had been awarded the DFC for flying Mosquitos on anti-V1 operations, was serving with 276 ASR Squadron at landing ground B.83 at Knoke-le-Zoute in Belgium.
He was due to marry Margot Goodwin, a VAD nurse, on 9th January and on the 8th took off in Anson MG552 with three wedding guests. At that time the French port of Dunkirk was surrounded by Allied troops but remained in German hands until the end of the war with fully functioning flak batteries.
Starr must have passed within range as the Anson was shot down, Starr and the three passengers were all killed:
W/Cdr. JH Humphris
S/Ldr. HC Haley
F/O RB Moore
All are buried in Dunkirk Town Cemetery.
Both brothers are commemorated in Regent Street, Swindon (below).
Above image and additional research courtesy of Noel Beauchamp (www.swindonheritage.com).