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Lancaster Bomber Pilot Passes Away

Wednesday January 8 2014

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.

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11 Showing 11 comments

Reply Posted by Alan on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 11:15
R.I.P. A true hero and role model for us all.

Reply Posted by Lyn Fawcett on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 11:16
Rest in Peace Richard Starkey. My sincere condolences to your family. You will be remembered.

Reply Posted by Steve Vajda on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 12:43
Top bloke. Will be missed by many.

Reply Posted by Barnsley Truth on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 13:22
RIP skip

Reply Posted by Ged on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 16:53
A true role model, I hope his WWII contribution is a topic in the local school syllabus. RIP

Reply Posted by Barnsley. on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 17:19

Reply Posted by Royston resident on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 17:22
Sadly missed. A True hero

Reply Posted by Jim on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 17:37
A true hero! Rest in peace! :'(

Reply Posted by craig on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 18:15
Goodnight and God bless, your bravery helped free us from a world of tyranny.
I am only 28 but i know and respect your sacrafice deeply.

Reply Posted by graham kirkup on Wednesday January 8 2014 at 21:00
rest well friend you deserve too

Reply Posted by gus on Wednesday July 16 2014 at 17:50
god bless you and all like you, true hero's.
Iam ex army and from scotland with good pals from royston.
is there a grave stone to show my respects when iam down.