8x10 inch photo of a Lancaster bomber signed by 106 Squadron veteran, Flt Lt Dick Starkey who was shot down and arrived at Stalag Luft III just a few days after the legendary 'Great Escape'.
Dick Starkey was with 106 Sqn as a pilot on Lancasters when his aircraft was shot down in March 1944. After hospitalisation he moved to Stalag Luft III arriving within days of the execution of 50 escapees. 106 Squadron was formed 30th September 1917 at Andover, and served in Ireland on Army co-operation duties from May 1918 until disbandment in 1919. Re-formed in June 1938, the squadron was equipped with Hawker Hinds, and later Fairey Battles and from May 1939 until March 1942 was equipped with the Handley Page Hampden.
The first operational WWII sortie, on the night of 9/10th September 1940 was mine laying in the Bordeaux area and the first bombing sortie was on the night of 1st/2nd March 1941 against Cologne. From February 1942 until June the same year 106 was equipped with the Avro Manchester. Following this short spell, the squadron was re-equipped with the Avro Lancaster. Although they used both Lancasters and Manchesters on all three 1,000 bomber raids (Cologne 30th/31st May 1942, Essen 1st/2nd June 1942, and Bremen 25/26th June 1942) - the third one against Bremen was the last one when the Manchesters were used.
In October 1942, 106 contributed 10 Lancasters to 5 Group's epic low level daylight raid against the Schneider Works at Le Creusot, and 2 Lancasters (one of which was piloted by Wing Commander Guy Gibson CO of 106) to the subsidiary raid on the transformer and switching station at Montchanin.
In 1943, they took part in the first shuttle-bombing raids (target Friedrichshafen), and the famous Peenemunde raid. During what was to become known as the Battle of Berlin (November 1943- March 1944) 106 dispatched 281 Lancasters on 20 raids, with the loss of eight aircraft.
In 1944, 106 helped prepare the way for the invasion of Europe by hitting targets such as a Coastal Gun Battery at St Pierre du Mont and V-1 storage sites. In December 1944, 106 made a round trip of over 1,900 miles to attack the German Baltic Fleet at Gdynia.
In March 1945, the squadron provided air support (against the defences of Wesel) for Commandos crossing the Rhine. Their last bombing sortie was on 25/26th April 1945 against the oil refinery at Vallo, Norway and 106 Squadron finally disbanded February 1946.
WW2 RAF pilot & Stalag Luft III POW Dick Starkey signed photo
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