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Battle of Britain: Historic flypast for 75th anniversary

Posted by: Mark Jones 15 Sep 15 - 2:31PM  | Aerospace

Today sees the 75th Anniversary of what has become known as Battle of Britain day. The name given to the 15th September 1940, when the German Luftwaffe launched its largest and most concentrated attack against London in the hope of drawing out The RAF.

The anniversary will include an historic flypast over St Paul’s cathedral of some 40 Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes.

Here at Jonathan Lee Recruitment we have a direct link to ‘The Few’ through Aerospace and Defence Managing Consultant Matthew Heath who can count Hurricane pilot Squadron Leader Harold Starr amongst his direct line of relatives. Which is the pivot around which Jonathan Lee Recruitment will remember ‘The Few’

The information on this page is with thanks to Swindon Heritage the town where Harold Starr made his home.

Harold Starr was born September 8th 1914 being part of a six children family. He started life growing up in The Central Temperance Hotel (now the site of The Savoy) where his mother was the proprietor and his father worked as a shop fitter...

Harold and family moved to Bristol where he finished his education at the local Gotham Grammar School, during which time at just 19 years of age he joined the officers’ training corps and was awarded his ‘wings' in 1935 at the age of 21.

Harold had been flying for just one year when it looked like his flying career was over. Following a forced crash landing in his Hawker Audax, not only damaging Hunts Copse Farmhouse but leaving Harold with life threatening injuries to his skull, leg and chest.

Harold was undeterred by his brush with death and just two months after the outbreak of the Second World War Harold was back flying and rapidly rising through the ranks.

On August 8th 1940 Harrold was placed in command of the 20 pilots of 253 squadron and commenced full fighter training with Hawker Hurricanes (Just 3 weeks before Battle of Britain).

The Battle of Britain campaign diary records that the fateful day of August 31st 1940 dawned fair but hazy and formations of enemy aircraft appeared in Deal, Dover and the Thames Estuary areas.

At 7.55 am around 250 enemy aircraft attacked in five distinctive waves and the onslaught continued into the evening.

At the end of August 31st Fighter Command reported its heaviest losses to date and among those lost was Squadron Leader Harold Starr aged just 25.

Harold’s Hurricane was shot down over the Estuary near Sandwich during one of the many interception patrols. After being hit Squadron Leader Starr managed to bail out at 15,000 feet only to suffer the same unchivalrous fate as two comrades from the day before, as he parachuted down he was circled by 3 Messerschmitt’s which opened fire with machine guns killing defenceless Harold before he hit the ground.

Harold’s body was returned to Swindon and his burial took place on 6th September 1940 just 2 days before what would have been his 26th birthday.

Battle of Britain: July to October 1940

  • In July 1940 RAF Fighter Command had only 640 planes to combat the Luftwaffe's 2,600 fighters and bombers
  • Nearly 3,000 aircrew served with RAF Fighter Command during the battle
  • The average age of a pilot was 20 years old.
  • 20% of the pilots were from the British Dominions, and occupied European or neutral countries
  • The RAF lost 1,023 planes and the Luftwaffe lost 1,887 planes in the battle
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