Two blue plaques were unveiled on 8 September two honour of two Swindon heroes, brothers Harold and Norman ‘John’ Starr.
The pilots’ nephew, 93 year old retired Squadron Leader Peter Starr Mills, and great niece Sue Giles, pulled the ribbon on the plaques placed at the site of their birth where the Central Hotel once stood in Regent Street. It was replaced in the 1930s by a cinema; the building is now occuped by the Weathespoon’s Savoy pub.
Cllr Eric Shaw, Mayor of Swindon, and representatives from RAF Shrivenham were also present at the event which was the anniversary of Harold’s birthday.
Squadron Leader Harold Starr (1914 – 1940), aged 25, bailed out of his burning Hurricane during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and was shot to death in his parachute by a Messerschmitt pilot. His wife was carrying their unborn child. He is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at Radnor Street Cemetery, Swindon.
Wing Commander Norman John Starr DFC and BAR (1917 – 1945) was shot down and killed aged 27 whilst piloting an Avro Anson over Dunkirk in 1945. He was flying back to England to get married to his sweetheart the following day. He is buried along with his three crew members in northern France at the Commonwealth War Grave in Dunkirk town cemetery.
The plaques were made possible by crowdfunding and generous donations by members of the Starr family. Noel Beauchamp of Swindon Heritage said: “We are thankful to all the contributors to our crowdfunding appeal and to Sqn Ldr Mills and Sue Giles for helping it reach the target.
“Our thanks also go to everybody who helped make the event possible, including management and staff of The Savoy and Wetherspoons, and Chris Garrett of Dream Box Toy Boxes, who installs the plaques for us.
“The plaques commemorating Harold and John were the second and third to be installed by Swindon Heritage, our first was dedicated to Suffragette Edith New.
“In the coming weeks we will be announcing another very exciting Blue Plaque, marking the life of a very famous person from Swindon. We will again use the crowdfunding approach to cover the costs as there is no national or local organised funding scheme available to provide them.”
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