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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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25th July 1940 53 Squadron Blenheim IV R3836 PZ-X P/O. Starky

Operation: Anti-Shipping

Date: 25th July 1940 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 53 Squadron (motto: 'United in effort'). 16 Group

Type: Blenheim IV

Serial: R3836

Code: PZ-X

Base: RAF Detling, Kent

Location: Wadden Sea off Koffieboonenplaat

Pilot: P/O. David Bayntun Starky NZ/41752 RNZAF Age20. Missing - believed killed

Obs: Sgt. Harry Walter Hunt 580545 RAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Bartholomew Moriarty 615346 RAF Age 24. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 06:02 hrs on an anti-shipping patrol (S.A.9).

During an attack on invasion barges R3836 was hit by ships flak based at Ballum, Amelund. The Blenheim crashed on a sandbank at Koffieboonenplaat, only the body of the Canadian born observer was recovered when his body washed ashore later at Friesland..

Burial details:

P/O. David Bayntun Starky. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 10. Born on the 10th March 1920 at Gisborne. Selected for a short service commission on the 10th October 1938. Embarked for England on the 19th November 1938 arriving 23rd December 1938. Trained further at RAF Ansty with No. 9 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School near Coventry. Pilots badge awarded 17th June 1939. Joined 53 squadron on the 21st January 1940. Son of Francis Bayntun Starky and Georgine Dunsford Starky (née Barker), of Opotiki, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 304 flying hours logged and on his 10th operational sortie.

Sgt. Harry Walter Hunt. Jonkerboss War Cemetery. Grave 8.J.6. Son of Walter James Hunt and Mary Theressa Hunt of 1598 William Street, Vancouver, Canada and husband of Winifred Grace Hunt, of Stoke Newington, London. Grave inscription: 'He Died That We Might Live'. His father set aside sufficient funds to provide that a scholarship fund to be set up in his son's honour at the Collingwood Collegiate High School, Collingwood, Ontario where he was a student. A Memorial plaque hangs in the foyer of the school which bears his name and those of other alumni who lost their lives in the Second World War.

Sgt. Bartholomew Moriarty. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 17. Son of John and Ellen Moriarty, of Ballineen, Co. Cork, Republic of Ireland.

Special additional information on P/O. David Bayntun Starky by Sonia Edwards researching all who lost their lives from the Bay Of Plenty area of New Zealand.

The three brothers mentioned were the sons of Francis Bayntun STARKY (1884 - 07th November 1962) and Georgine Dunsford (née BARKER) 1880- 04th July 1971) STARKY. The family moved to ToaToa, near Motu between Opotiki and Gisborne, when the land was being opened up for settlement, before World War One. Richard Bayntun was born 21 March 1914, in Christchurch, James Bayntun was born 1916, and David Bayntun STARKY was born 10 March 1920, in Gisborne. All three attended Christ’s College in Christchurch2, and all went into agricultural pursuits. Dick attended 1929-30, Jim 1931-1933, and David boarded from 1934-1937. The family were Anglicans.

Francis (Bay) STARKY had a small herd of cows, but was a stud breeder of Ryland sheep on his farm at ToaToa. Mrs STARKY had a small tearoom at the junctions of Takaputahi and Motu, where she provided food for travellers between Gisborne and Opotiki.3 They were both active in the local community. Mr FB STARKY was Chairman of the Opotiki Hospital Board for many years, 4served on the County Council, pressured for upgrading roads in the ToaToa area and was on the Rugby Union executive. Jim played for City Rugby Club Senior Team in Opotiki.

Richard Bayntun STARKY (1914-1943) volunteered 15 September 1939 in Christchurch. He was employed as a farm hand, by WJB Hutchinson, of Reid’s Hill, Little River, in the South Island. He was just over 25 years old, with a fair complexion, brown hair and grey eyes. He was 6 feet tall. Dick had been two weeks with 16 Battery New Zealand Artillery and chose to remain with them.

The Opotiki Patriotic Society presented Dick Starky with a money belt and £1 when he left home. They forwarded a further 30/- and £2 in later years.

Dick was in camp 3 October 1939, and was very quickly sent overseas with the 1st Echelon, 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 5 January 1940, leaving from Wellington aboard HMT 25, Empress of Canada. They sailed via Perth & Colombo to Port Tewfik, to reach Egypt 12 February 1940 as the Main Body men.1853 Gunner RB Starky joined 25 Field Battery, in the 4th Field Regiment, 4 Field Battery who were the first to arrive at Maadi. They could only do elementary training until more equipment arrived, so many were able to go sightseeing. In September 1940 Gunner RB Starky was awarded two weeks leave in Palestine.

1853 Bombardier DB Starky marched out with the Lustre Force to serve in Greece, during March 1941. The devastating retreat from Greece took place less than three weeks later.

4 Brigade were at Servia Pass, but the Germans advanced swiftly with their Luftwaffe reconnoitring freely overhead. Once Allied troops were ordered to withdraw, progress was slow over impossible tracks and cluttered roads. The enemy displayed skill and ingenuity in the desperate fighting at Platamon. The New Zealanders managed a fighting retreat, with the field gun lines shelled, and aerial strafing attacks directed at them. Road convoys were constantly bombed. All field guns were destroyed or disabled, as the men were driven back to the beach on Anzac Day 1941. Some gunners managed to reach Porto Rafti on the night 26/27 April, where they were evacuated aboard Salween or Glengyle straight to Egypt. Many Gunners who were taken to Crete were not evacuated from there. When muster rolls were called on 18 May 1941, RB Starky was safe in Egypt.

In the Middle East, the next months were spent recuperating and re-training with reinforcements. The Artillery sections were also reorganised. The move to the Libyan Frontier began 11 November 1941. This month, the Gunners saw action at Capuzzo, Sidi Azeiz, Sidi Rezegh and the approach to Tobruk. After the first Middle East action Bombardier Starky was again recorded safe in the Middle East, at Muster roll call 12 December 1941. The New Zealanders were placed on the Syrian border for the next few months, before resuming the attacks on the Libyan front.

Above: Group. Pilots course 3a, No. 1 Service Flying Training School September 1940, RNZAF Station Wigram . Rear L-R: John Grigor MacKenzie Grant NZ/401759 (killed 15th June 1944), Bryan Daniel James Kennedy NZ/401768 (killed 01st July 1941), P. Souter (no details), J.H. Register (no details), Montague James Rowland NZ/401781 (killed 10th July 1943, Basil Rawdon Hastings Sharp NZ/401785 (killed 11th December 1940), Gordon Kenneth Williams NZ/401796 (survived the war, evader then PoW), Middle: James Fraser Barron NZ/401749 (killed 20th My 1944), A.E. Lyttle (no details), Keith Campbell Morison Miller NZ/401761 (killed 19th August 1941, James Bayntun Starky NZ/401787 (survived the war - died 27th April 1997), L.T. Weston (no details), Jack Edward Wall NZ/401792 (killed 12th September 1941, James Allen Ward NZ/401793 (killed 15th September 1941), P.L. Stokes (no details), Front: P.P. O'Brien (no details), A.K.E. MacEwan (no details), William Wood Weir Burgess NZ/401750 (survived the war - AFC - died 27th March 1990), W.G. McCullough (no details), Robert Francis Watson NZ401794 survived the war - AFC and bar. MiD. OBE - died 04th February 2016), Ronald West Taylor NZ/401790 (killed 19th July 1941). (We welcome any changes/additions to this image description)

Promoted to Temporary Lance Bombardier in 4 Field Regiment, 19 May 1942, Dick Starky was confirmed as Lance Bombardier in 2 June 1942. He fought at Minqar Qaim.

In September 1942 Dick Starky had a minor mishap. He burned his hand while making tea. At the time the battery were messing beside their vehicles. Each personnel of the vehicle cooked their own meals on a primus supplied by the regiment. He had his hand dressed, but that meant he was withdrawn from his unit.

Starky marched out with reinforcements to the field, in July to attack at Ruweisat Ridge. Here, he was admitted to 4 New Zealand Forward Field Ambulance, 27 July 1942. He was transferred to 6 General Hospital the next day. After a week he went to 1 New Zealand Convalescent Depot to recuperate. Lance Bombardier RB Starky marched out to the Training Wing at Base Depot, for a Signals Instructors Course, No 5, from 30 November to 23 January 1943. Later, he was told he had qualified as Signals Assistant Instructor. In February 1943 Dick Starky spent some time with 32 New Zealand Field Regiment, before re-joining 4 New Zealand Field Regiment again. 1 March 1943 Starky was promoted to Bombardier.The Left Hook plan on the Mareth Line, in Tunisia, began in March, with the Field Regiment assisting at the attack on Tebaga Gap. The artillery programme planned to fire on the enemy for 21 minutes – then they lifted a further 300 yards, and yet another 300 yards after that, enabling the foremost infantry to reach enemy defending the Roman Wall across the Tebaga Gap. Many enemy air attacks were made on the guns.

4 Field Artillery were deployed at last light, with orders to put out OP’s at first light, 21 March 1943. Tebaga Gap was heavily defended. On the 22nd counter battery fire was very effective, but new types of German aircraft were appearing and in the evening a Focke-Wulf 190 came over and dropped a single bomb. The Messerschmitt’s were bombing from very low positions. 25 Battery were shelled by enemy with excellent observation from the Matmata Hills, until the Batteries were forced to move because the enemy were making good use of their sightings. RB Starky was one of three men killed from C Troop of 25 Battery, on 23 March 1943, when a dozen more men were wounded in the shelling.

1853 Bombardier Richard Bayntun Starky is buried at Sfax War Cemetery in Tunisia, (Grave X.B.21). He is remembered on the Opotiki Cenotaph, and on the Hall of Memories at Auckland War Memorial Museum. Richard and his brother David Starky are remembered at their old school, on the Christ’s College World War 2 Memorial, in the porch of the Chapel.

NZ41752 David Bayntun STARKY (1920 -1940) left Christ’s College to enlist with the New Zealand Air Force. He was selected for the Royal Air Force Servicing Squadron, and commissioned by October 10 1938. He was already in England when war was declared against Germany. 8 He embarked for the United Kingdom about 19 November 1938, arriving there 23 December. The RAF sent him to a Refresher Training School at Ansty. He was given a Short Service Commission 4 March 1939, and gained his Pilot’s Badge 17 June 1939. By January 21 1940 Pilot Officer DB STARKY was with 53 Squadron, flying Bristol Blenheim light Bombers and had done more than 10 air operations. For most of May and June he transferred to the School of Air Navigation to train with Anson aircraft. He was killed on air operations 25 July 1940.

On Thursday July 1940, Coastal Command sent 53 Squadron, RAF, out from Detling in Kent. S A 9 was doing an anti-shipping patrol off the Dutch Coast. Blenheim IV R3836/X took off at 0602 and was shot down, when attacking a convoy near Ameland.9

NZ41752 Pilot Officer David Bayntun Starky, Royal Air Force, had 304 hours up, having done 10 air operations. He was 20. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial (UK) and on the Opotiki Cenotaph. His name is on the Hall of Memories at Auckland War Memorial Museum. Pilot Officer David Starky is remembered with his brothers, at Christ’s College.NZ401787 James Bayntun STARKY (1916-1996) was 24 when he went off to war. His brother David was already a casualty. The Opotiki Patriotic Society made the usual presentations to Jim before he left home, and followed up with other monetary support in later years. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force, 2 July 1940 and flew as a New Zealander with 115 Squadron until 1946, when he joined the Royal Air Force (1947-1952).

Squadron Leader James B Starky received several awards:10 Mentioned in Dispatched 1942, for work in the Western Desert, flying a Wellington, and also a Distinguished Flying Cross 1943, for superb airmanship returning his crippled craft to base. His citation for Distinguished Service Order 1943 said he showed cool courage under fire.11 STARKY flew 47 sorties, and served briefly as an instructor, before being posted to the prestigious Empire Test Pilots’ School at Bascombe Down, as a member of No 2 Course (1944-45). He was employed as a test pilot.

Jim Starky brought his new wife home to ToaToa after the war, but they eventually settled in Capetown, South Africa, where he died 27 April 1996. His ashes were returned to the farm by his son David in 1997.

James Starky is remembered, with his two brothers, at Christ’s College in the Record of Service of Old Boys and Masters in the Second World War 1939-1945.12

Sources: 1 Births Deaths Marriages NZ on line. Personnel Records Trentham & Opotiki War Vigilance Assn Records. Scenes from the Past. Museum musings .Opotiki News July 30 2009. Opotiki News on Papers Past numerous editions. Opotiki War Vigilance Assn records p 52. Personnel files Defence Archives Trentham. MURPHY WE, 2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery 1966 Historical Publications Dept Internal Affairs p 482. Roll of Honour p 750. MARTYN Errol W For Your Tomorrow Volplane Press Vol 3 p 45. Ibid Vol 1 p 89. By Such Deeds CM Hanson O.B.E Volplane Press 2001 p 456. SUTHERLAND James Gallantry Awards to New Zealanders in World War Two. 1989 p 113, p 168. 12 Archivist Christ’s College 2020. mages from B Engelbretsen Opotiki/

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Sonia Edwards and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, VAC, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 18-07-2021

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