ONE of the last surviving Lancaster bomber pilots from the Second World War has died aged 91.

Richard Starkey, of Ashley Croft, Royston, was captain of a Lancaster with the 106 Squadron, group five.

He safely flew 22 missions before being shot down over Germany in March 1944.

He was interviewed many times by the Barnsley Chronicle, including most recently in July when his story was recounted in a new book about the RAF called 'The Red Line'.

He described the night he was shot down: "The tracers flashed past the cockpit window.

"The whole wing set alight, there was no way I was going to save it so I gave the order to bail out."

He managed to attach a parachute just before the aircraft, laden with bombs and fuel, exploded.

He was knocked unconscious but luckily the parachute did open as a result of the force from the blast. He grappled with it as he descended, having regained consciousness.

He was captured and held at the Stalag Luft III prison made famous by the hit film 'The Great Escape'.

He was eventually repatriated, and left the RAF in 1946.

A widower for 12 years, he leaves two daughters, two grandsons, and seven great grandchildren, including one born three weeks before he died.

One of his grandsons is Paul Heckingbottom, former Barnsley FC player and member of the coaching staff.

His funeral will be held at 2.30pm on January 8 at St John's Church, Royston, followed by cremation at Ardsley.