Plans are being made to mark the 75th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain in September and to commemorate the life of Swindon pilot Squadron Leader Harold Starr who died on 31 August 1940, eight days before his 26th birthday.
Nazi pilots killed Starr in his parachute after he baled out of hisHurricane over Kent. His funeral took place on 6 September at Radnor Street Cemetery in central Swindon, just two days before his birthday. There are 103 Commonwealth War Graves located there.
Harold’s brother Norman, also a pilot was shot down in 1945 over Dunkirk, and is buried in France. He is remembered on Starr’s tombstone in Swindon.
For over 40 years, the Battle of Britain hero’s grave lay virtually forgotten until Swindon historian Dan Gurney set about making sure Harold Starr’s story was not forgotten.
To honour this very special anniversary in British history, Swindon Heritage is coordinating events in the town which will include:
• Tuesday 8 September: Civic Reception at Steam Museum on Harold Starr’s birthday, followed by three days of talks about him, the Battle of Britain and the book The Secrets of the Spitfire written by Swindon aeronautics researcher and historian Lance Cole who has just released Secret Wings of World War II: Nazi technology and Allied Arms Race;
• Saturday 12 September: Static display in the town centre of life-size models of a Spitfire and a Hurricane (both of which were built in Swindon). This is subject to business sponsorship;
• Sunday 13 September: Family day at Radnor Street Cemetery, including the unveiling of designs for windows in the cemetery chapel, created by children at Swindon primary schools;
• Tuesday 15 September, Battle of Britain Day. The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will make a flypast over the centre of Swindon in tribute to Harold Starr and the 544 RAF pilots killed during the battle.
The composition of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be decided nearer the day but Swindon Link understands that an enhanced collection of aircraft than the usual Lancaster bomber, Spitfire and Hurricane could pass over the town.
A prominent VIP is expected in the town to witness this unique tribute.
To make this happen the volunteers behind Swindon Heritage, which is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to keeping the town’s history at the forefront of people’s minds, need money quickly to cover the costs of organising the events. This includes everything from sponsoring the static aircraft display, programme printing and promotion, speakers’ travelling expenses, portaloos and insurance.
Event management expertise, printing and loan of PA systems are also needed.
If you can assist, contact Caroline Black on 07840 792007 or email: email@example.com