G.W. Curry crew 24.04.41 †

19410419 First Crew - Curry copy

The Curry crew. From L to R (back row) Albert Windiate, Gwyn Martin, George Curry, Brian Smith, Edward Callender & Stanley Tompsett. Front row, Groundcrew, names unknown. © David Martin.

I am indebted to David Martin for the permission to present images and extracts from his Father’s book “Up and Under”. Gwyn Martin arrived at Feltwell on the 10th of April 1941 to join 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. With the extended role of a 2nd Pilot at this early part of the War, Gwyn and the other members of his crew essentially had 2 Pilots. Within the format of these Crew Op History pages, a link is provided at the foot of this first history that will take you onto the crew’s second Pilot, Tony Saunders.

Gwyn post-war

Gwyn Martin post-war and the cover of his book “Up and Under ” – described in Gwyn’s own words as ‘A sort of partial autobiography, 1939 – 1945’

After completing his first Tour, disillusioned and spent, Gwyn resisted the requests for him to stay with the Squadron. After a stint as an instructor he returned to Operations with 150 Squadron and on the 23rd of October 1943, he and his crew were shot down, crash landing in Lake Langavanet, in Norway. He would spend the next 3 years in Stalag Luft III.

David has generously given me permission to use chapters relating to Gwyn’s time with 75(NZ) Squadron within these histories and his copyright of this material should be noted The book can be found on Amazon in both physical and eBook format.

I have looked to place the extracts in chronologically relevant order, relative to the Op history – to this end, a significant portion of George Curry’s 2nd Pilot Ops are listed before the arrival of Gwyn and his crew (sans Pilot). Some extracts do not relate directly to Ops, but capture priceless memories of events on and off base.

04/01/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Duisberg, Brest and Target M.61.
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks on the above targets. XMU.284 and XMU.989 failed to locate targets, the former bringing bombs back, while the latter dropped bombs safe in sea. A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 1000lbs. N.D.T., 500lbs. N.D.T., 250lbs. delayed action, and containers of incendiaries.
XMU.310 reports incendiaries seen to burst and five mins later reddish yellow explosions for a couple of minutes. Owing to cloud XMU.382 failed to observe results. Results were not observed by XMU.441 owing to 10/10 cloud. XMU.467 reports glow observed through cloud after bombs were dropped.
Owing to 9/10 – 10/10 clouds no results were observed by XMU.483. XMU.561 was unable to pinpoint target owing to 10/10 cloud. One 500lbs. bomb dropped. Rest of bombs in middle of resulting flak fire.
XMU.691 bombed through 10/10 cloud on concentration of flak. Bursts observed on cloud base.
XMU.784 dropped bombs in three sticks. One large bright explosion observed leaving a glow under the cloud. Two fires were observed near to BREST target.
Accurate heavy A.A. fire experienced in DUISBERG area. Intense light and moderate heavy flak, fairly accurate, in BREST area.
Searchlights were ineffective owing to heavy cloud.
No enemy aircraft were seen.
Ten-tenths cloud experienced over whole route. Severe icing.
Navigation was by Astro, D/R, and W/T.

Wellington Mk.Ic T.2503 AA-?
Raid No. XMU.989 BREST (Primary target not bombed)

P/O Arthur James Falconer, RNZAF NZ39910 – Captain.
P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
P/O Anthony Vincent Muir, RNZAF NZ40195 – Observer.
Sgt. William Donald ‘Don’ Morrison, RAFVR 946356 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harry Thomas Hellier, RAFVR 650057 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Andrew Moore Brodie, RNZAF NZ391378 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:25 – Landed 02:45
Flight Time 06:20

14/02/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Gelsenkirchen
Twelve Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. Bombs were seen to burst in target area, and many fires were observed. Dummy fires were seen near the target. Heavy and medium A.A. fire was encountered in the target area and on route. Searchlights were active from the Dutch coast to target. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was fine, but there was some ground mist.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1409 AA-N

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Edward James McSherry, RNZAF NZ39867 – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:00 – Landed 01:10
Flight Time 06:10

23/02/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Boulogne
Eight Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. Three of these aircraft failed to locate the target (WLR.245, WLR.807, WLR.948). A mixed bomb load was carried and was made up of 1000lbs., 500lbs., 250lbs., and containers of incendiaries. WLR.319 bombed the dock area at BOULOGNE. WLR.519 reports bombs burst in target area, and fires were observed. WLR.547 reports two bombs seen to burst in dock area, 250lbs. not seen to burst. WLR.867 bombed target and saw bursts across docks. Small fires started. Explosions observed by rear gunner. WLR.398 reports that bomb bursts were not seen, owing to layer of cloud blowing across target. S.B.C’s seen to light in target area. A number of parachute flares were seen shot up on coast near Calais. A.A. fire was intense and fairly accurate. Searchlights were numerous un target area. One enemy aircraft was seen. Eight tenths to 10/10 cloud was experienced over target area. Navigation was by map reading, D/R, and pin points.

Wellington Mk.Ic N.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Edward James McSherry, RNZAF NZ39867 – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harrap, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:10 – Landed 22:25
Flight Time 03:15

26/02/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Cologne
Nine Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. Bombs were seen to burst in the target area and fires were started. Fairly accurate heavy to medium and light A.A. fire was encountered, and searchlights were intense and accurate over Holland and the target area. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks made. The weather was fairly good over most of the journey, but ground haze covered the target.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.3297 AA-?

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Edward James McSherry, RNZAF NZ39867 – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harrap, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:19 – Landed 00:24
Flight Time 05:05

12/03/1941 – Bombing Attack on Targets GY477, Town 13a and CC29
Nine Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks on the above targets. A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 1000lbs 500lbs 250lbs and cases on incendiaries. XDA 240 reports bombs fell in target area and fires started. XDA.245 reports bombs dropped on Dock Buildings South of DOCK . XDA.283 dropped bombs across centre of targets on Westerly Leading.
XDA.283 captained by P/O Hewitt reports his aircraft was caught and held in searchlights for 30 minutes and was shot at from the ground during that time and machine hit in may places and hydraulic gear rendered U/S which necessitated a “Crash Landing” on return. This machine was damaged.
XDA.627 reports bombs burst in target area.
XDA.671 reports bombs dropped on SCHIPOL AERODROME owing to wireless being U/S.
XDA.907 reports bombs burst in neighbourhood of AIRMINISTRY BUILDING approx. 1/2 mile S.E. of TIERGARTEN.
Two dummy aerodromes were observed to West of SCHIPOL AERODROME. Very intense heavy A.A. Fire was experienced over the whole route. Intense searchlight activity was experienced and they were mostly operating in cones. XDA.283 report seeing one MW110 over Dutch Coast.
The weather throughout this trip was very good and Navigation was by D/R Astro and Map Reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic T.2835 AA-C

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:46 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 08:04

13/03/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Hamburg
Eight Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. Hits were registered in the target area and many fires were observed to be burning when last aircraft left. Heavy and light flak was experienced over the target and numerous searchlights were used working in cones. ARU 271 observed one ME109 and one ME110 near DUTCH COAST and ARU 250 engaged one JU88 results were not observed. Good weather was experienced and navigation was by D/R and Map Reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic T.2835 AA-C

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:45 – Landed 03:00
Flight Time 07:15

15/03/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Lorient
Five Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. Owing to fog being experienced on the return journey three of these aircraft landed at ST EVAL and two at BOSCOMBE DOWN. Hits were registered in the target area. The only observations made was that the blackout over FRANCE was bad. Moderate heavy and light flak was encountered and strong concentrations of searchlights were met in the target area. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was clear but ground haze was experienced over the target. Navigation was by D/R and astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic N.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 01:05
Flight Time 06:20

18/03/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Kiel and Rotterdam
Eleven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft. GKN.542, ran short of petrol and crashed at Ryhill, Yorkshire. The crew baled out, but one member, SGT. Gilmore (Wireless Operator) was killed owing to his parachute failing to open. Direct hits were scored and fired started. Two photographs of town and docks were taken by GKN.465. Intense and accurate heavy and light flak was encountered at various parts of route, and there was intense searchlight activity over target area. No enemy aircraft were observed. The weather over the target was fair, but fog was experienced over English coast on return. Navigation was by D/R, pinpoint and astro,

Wellington Mk.Ic N.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR –
Pilot. P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:35 – Landed 02:45
Flight Time 07:10

23/03/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Berlin
Six Wellington aircraft of this Unit carried out individual bombing attacks against the above target. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 1000 lbs., 50lbs., and containers of incendiaries..
UNL.405 reports incendiaries were seen, through cloud, to ignite, but H.E. not observed.
UNL.548 bombed through 8/10 cloud. Fires were seen to start, and a red glow lit the cloud.
UNL.837 bombed within one mile of target. Flashes, but no results, were observed.
Results were not observed by UNL.896 owing to 9/10 cloud.
UNL.903 dropped incendiaries and H.E. in single stick cross target on N.E. heading, through 9/10 cloud. Explosions not observed.
UNL.951 reports incendiaries burst believed in target area. Two fires started but were quickly controlled. White explosions seen up to 10 mins later.
Four photographs were taken by UNL.405.
A.A. Fire was heavy at some parts of route fairly accurate.
Searchlights were intense and accurate.
No enemy aircraft were seen.
Heavy cloud was experienced over target area and most of route.
Navigation was by D/R, map reading, astro, W/T.

Wellington Mk.Ic N.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:45 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 09:00

03/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Agianst Brest
Eight Wellington aircraft of this unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. SAW728 brought bombs back as nothing could be seen over the target area owing to 10/10 cloud. SAW.898 (Captain , F/O Prichard) collided in mid air with another aircraft, believed to be a Blenheim, was badly damaged and force landed at Boscombe Down. The rear gunner of SAW.898 (F/O Brown), shot down one Me.110 and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (Immediate). Owing to cloud, results were not observed. No observations or reconnaissance were made, but five photographs were attempted by SAW.778. Heavy and light flak was experienced at many parts of target area, and this was fairly accurate. Searchlights were numerous but not very accurate.

Wellington Mk.Ic T.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:40 – Landed 00:10
Flight Time 05:30

06/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Agianst Brest
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. Owing to heavy cloud over target area, the operation was not successful, eight aircraft failing to locate target. The bomb load consisted of 500 S.A.P.
CDS.388 reports two explosions, the first one large and coloured red.
Results were not observed by CDS.798 as bombs were dropped on flak concentration.
Two photographs were attempted by CDS.565.
Heavy and light A.A. Fire was experienced at many parts of target.
Few searchlights were in operation, but these were useless owing to cloud.
A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no attacks were made. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic T.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time not listed

07/04/1941 – Bombing Attack on Targets at Kiel
Eleven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. The weather was good and bombs were seen to burst on or very near the targets. Fires were observed over the whole of the target area. A.A. fire was fairly heavy and intense. Searchlights operated mainly in cones and were fairly accurate. A number of enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks developed. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro and map reading

Wellington Mk.Ic T.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 05:00
Flight Time 06:00

001squadtitle

“On April 10, 1941, I was posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron at Feltwell in Norfolk. Sid Tompsett and I set off on our motor bikes, and mine broke down in Oxford. There being no possibility of getting it repaired, I sent it on by train, continuing the journey on the back of Tompsett’s Triumph Speedtwin. It was dusk as we neared Feltwell, and we dismounted to watch the Wellingtons passing overhead, climbing slowly into the south eastern darkness towards some distant target. It was an emotional moment, as, from tomorrow, it was to be our way of life or death. It was dark when we booked in at the Guard Room, where our identity cards and posting orders satisfied the scrutiny of the Service Police, who detailed a body to escort us to the Sergeants’ Mess. It was a most civilized reception. The spider and the fly story sprang to my mind.

Мy rооm in the Mess was in near darkness, lit only by a blue painted, 15 watt, light bulb. I left my kit on the unoccupied bed and went in search of Tompsett. I found him in a dirty, cold room, similar to mine. We went in search of food, and found the remainder of the crew as hungry as we were, eating the tail end of supper. We were the only winged sergeants in the Mess, virginal in our newness and strangeness, and stared at with the near hostility that old hands reserved for sprog aircrew.

We played snooker and read magazines until we heard the throb of the engines of the first returning aircraft. It circled the drome with its navigation lights on, but as it made its final approach, the sirens sounded an air raid warning, and all airfield lights were extinguished. Overhead, could be heard a different, deeper, engine noise with a somewhat slower beat than that of the scattered Wimpies now circling the distant beacon. My mind went back to Hastings, where I had last heard the same engine noise high over the English Channel. Now, it was lower and more menacing, coming as it did from a Junkers 88 intruder aircraft hoping for a quick kill amongst the returning, tired 75 squadron aircraft. I was reminded of a fox waiting to cut out one sheep from the flock. The impasse lasted some minutes, but on this night the fox went home thwarted of its prey.

The ’All Clear’ sounded, lights returned to the flarepath and twenty or so aircraft landed safely, before the flarepath was dark once more. Aircraft engine noises gave way to the gentler sound of Bedford trucks on their way to dispersal points to pick up crews. We returned to the Mess to play some snooker, until we heard the crews coming in for their aromatic breakfast of bacon and eggs. We tagged along, trying to look as if we had been on the raid. We were new, we were ignored, not offensively, but, nevertheless, ignored. The crews were talked out and quiet, the sound level rising only when news of the one missing aircraft came through. It had landed safely at Manston. These were Bomber Command workmen returning home, tired, physically and mentally. I went back to my room to sleep the few remaining hours to morning.

I woke at about 9 o’clock to discover the reason for the cold and dirty state of the room was the absence of a window. The room was open to the elements, and a solitary blanket covered the gap. The damage had been caused by a daylight bombing attack some days before our arrival. I washed and shaved then joined the remainder of the crew for a second breakfast.

Eddie B. was down in the village looking for digs for himself and his beautiful wife. With breakfast over, the five of us walked to the squadron orderly room to report our arrival. Within minutes, we were processed and accepted as members of 75 Squadron. There was an air of informality about the procedure, to which I was unaccustomed in training. We were marched into the Commanding Officer’s presence; he introduced himself as W/Cdr. Kay and welcomed us as members of the best squadron in Bomber Command, namely, his squadron. He was a New Zealander with a D.F.C., he was short, bright, cheerful and seemed old to us; he was actually about thirty four years old. He asked us if we were happy as a crew, to which I replied that the five of us were well suited. He made no indiscreet, direct reference to our missing captain, but his facial expression was sufficient. He wished us well and told us to collect railway warrants and ration cards from the orderly room, ready for a seven day leave. We all caught the afternoon train from Lakenheath to Liverpool Street, where we went our separate ways. I arrived home on the last train from Cardiff.”

16/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks on Bremen
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft, captained by F/Lt. Fletcher, failed to locate target and bombs were bought back. The remaining aircraft all dropped bombs and bursts were observed from which fires resulted. Light and heavy A.A. fire, fairy accurate, was experienced in target areas. Searchlights were very active. One enemy aircraft was seen but no attack was made. There was a haze and layers of thin cloud over target areas. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T and map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic T.2854 AA-U

Sgt. Kilsby, RAFVR – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Malcolm George Harris, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. W. Mason, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Evans, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Allan Robert James Box, RNZAF NZ401221 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time not listed

17/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Berlin
Seven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of the aircraft, AXC.555, crashed on landing at Ternhill. No one was injured. All bombs were dropped and bursts were seen. A.A. fire was spasmodic and very accurate. Searchlights were intense over target and on route. A number of enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks made. There was ground haze over the target with heavy could on route. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T, map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1163 AA-?

Sgt. Robert Ewen Ernest Fotheringham, RNZAF NZ391833 – Pilot.
P/O George William Curry, RAF 86389 – 2nd Pilot.
P/O George Eric Fowler, RAF 86427 – Observer.
Sgt. Robert Alexander Newton, RAFVR 6511971 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Crossley, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. John Henry Charles Wakefield, RNZAF NZ40929 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:50 – Landed 04:05
Flight Time 07:15

First Crew with names on back

The Curry crew. (shows reverse of photo with crew names) From L to R (back row) Albert Windiate, Gwyn Martin, George Curry, Brian Smith, Edward Callender & Stanley Tompsett. Front row, Groundcrew, names unknown. © David Martin.

“I was glad when the seven days of leave came to an end, allowing me to return to the company of my new family of five in the community that was 75 Squadron at Feltwell. .

Windy, Brian, and I arrived back at Feltwell together, to find Tompsett already there. Jock came in about midnight. After breakfast, on this, our first morning as members of 75 Squadron, we reported to the orderly room to learn that Eddie B…. had been posted to our sister squadron, No. 57, at nearby Methwold. W/Cdr. Kay gave us the news with a twinkle in his eye.

We were assigned to B Flight, to be the crew of P/O George Curry, who had already completed fifteen operations as a second pilot, and now had to complete a further fifteen as captain. George was a roly—poly, jolly Geordie. He took us to our Wellington, where he put us through evacuation drills and generally satisfied himself as to our individual and collective levels of competence, after which he took us on a short familiarisation flight and air test. He landed and reported the aircraft unfit for service. I was impressed.

The short flight had made us late for lunch, and we were approaching the Mess as the sirens wailed and we were engulfed by a stream of NCO’s, all carrying their dinner plates to the air raid shelters. We were obviously new, as we were the only ones who had not brought their lunch with them. These midday raids had been a feature of life in Feltwell in the Spring of 1941. A solitary Dornier 217, using cloud cover, raided the 3 Group airfields in Norfolk, while, from an exposed position on the roof of the control tower, Group

Captain Buckley, the station commander, gave a running commentary on the attacker’s position . It was like being at a race meeting, and a great morale boost. On this day, about twenty small anti personnel bombs were dropped, but there were no casualties, and it was the last of such raids on Feltwell.

After our interrupted lunch, we were detailed to .attend a demonstration of a new incendiary bomb, twenty pounds in weight, with a phosphorous—rubberoid base. It was difficult to extinguish, as small fragments had the ability to re-ignlte and burn with an intense flame. The Group Captain illustrated thls characteristic, when he kicked at a tiny fragment and set his shoe alight; thls ended the demo. We returned to the Mess, only to hear Buckley on the Tannoy warning everyone, who had been at the bomb demonstration to disrobe immediately and submit their clothing to a close inspection. Buckley had burst into flame in his own office, and the whole camp laughed with Buckley as he told the story against himself. He was a born leader, a real father figure, and it was a sad day for 75 when he was recalled to New Zealand.”

“I had put my name forward for a rugby trial match, in which I found myself marking a chunky Kiwi, Sgt. Allen, at Centre. I learnt more about the seamy and harder side of the game in ten minutes that afternoon than I had in ten years in the Rhondda. Allen was very hard and had no time for whingeing Pommie bastards. I was chosen to play against Bassingbourne O.T.U., commanded by Gary Kain, an ex 75 pilot. The match was played on a typically end of season ground, bone hard and fast, the ferocity of the play was unlike anything that I had ever experienced. We won, but, in doing so,

sustained a number of seemingly minor injuries. There was a tremendous party after the game, at which both Buckley and Kay expressed their delight at the result. We returned to Feltwell bruised and happy, and found ourselves on “Ops”. the following day. Unfortunately, five of the aircraft detailed for the night’s “ops” were grounded through injuries to crew members involved in the game. 3 Group H.Q. were not pleased with the situation, and 75 Squadron

was forbidden to play inter unit rugby. We continued to play knock up games on the drome, but nothing ever again approached the ferocity of the Bassingbourne battle. Rugby gave me an entree into the Kiwi society of 75 squadron, that was denied to those who didn’t play the game. One of my saddest moments came about six weeks later, when F/Sgt.Allen, my mentor, was killed with his crew over Dusseldorf.”

(As yet, the identity of Sgt. Allen remains a mystery – no individual with 75(NZ) Squadron seems to fit the description of loss on a Dusseldorf Op. Checking the CWGC database does not identify any losses in 57 Squadron either, regarding an individual with the surname Allen)

“George Curry had taken us on several cross country exercises, before being detailed for our first operation, the bombing of the invasion barges in Ostend docks. It took us about one and a half hours to get in the vicinity of Ostend, which remained invisible to us. After being shot at for a further fifteen un-productive, dangerous minutes, we returned home with our bomb load.”

 

24/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Ostend and Kiel
0024 4
Nine Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. Three of these aircraft failed to locate targets and bombs were bought back. A mixed bomb load was carried consisting of 1000lbs, 500lbs, and containers of incendiaries.
SFY.154 reports that bombs were seen to burst.
SFY.426 saw bombs burst 300 yds S.W. of target.
SFY.515 reports small fire started in target area.
SFY.626 saw bombs and incendiaries burst in target area.
Target was not located by SFY.699,
Results were not observed by SFY.872
S/L Widdowson returned to base on account of the Wireless Operator being ill. Three 500lbs. were jettisoned in sea. P/O Curry failed to locate target.
F/Lt. Fletcher attacked target area and fires were started.
Two large fires were observed in target area.
A.A. fire was fairly intense and accurate.
Searchlights were numerous and working in cones.
A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks made.
Heavy cloud was experienced in Ostend area, but elsewhere the weather was fine. Navigation was by D/R, loop, astro, W/T

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1162 AA-Y

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:00 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 02:50


“Our second operation was as much a fiasco as the first. The target was an oil farm at Rotterdam. After finding the mouth of the Scheldt, a not too difficult feat of navigation, we flew in descending spirals searching for, but unable to see, our target. Thirty minutes later, we looked for, found and bombed Schouwen airfield, before returning home.”

 

29/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Mannheim and Rotterdam
0029 4
Seven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. Two of the aircraft bought bombs back, having failed to locate target. The remaining aircraft dropped bombs and fire were started. A.A fire was fairly intense but not very accurate. Searchlights were numerous, effective and working in cones. No enemy aircraft were encountered. Weather was good, but there was slight haze over target area. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro and map-reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1457 AA-P

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 05:00


“The month of May saw us operating every other night; in the full moon period we flew on successive nights. The targets included three raids on the docks at Hamburg, reached after seven hours in the air. On only one of these occasions, in spite of a most difficult run to the target, did I consider I had a good Bombing result.”

 

02/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Hamburg and Emden
002 5
Seven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 1000lbs. G.P., 500lbs. G.P.; 250lbs. G.P. and containers of incendiaries. Bombs were dropped and hits scored. Many fires were started. Accurate heavy A.A. fire was experienced in target areas. There was intense stationary cones of searchlights over Hamburg. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks made. The weather was fine and visibility was good. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, map reading and astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1038 AA-H

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:50 – Landed 01:20
Flight Time 04:30

04/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Brest
004 5
Thirteen Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 2000lbs. S.A.P. 500lbs. S.A.P. 250lbs. S.A.P. while flash bombs were also carried by two aircraft. All bombs were dropped and bursts were observed. Many fires were started. Intense heavy and light flak was experienced on route and in target area, while searchlights were intense but not very accurate. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks made. The weather was fine and clear. Navigation was by astro. D/R, W/T, and map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:50 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 06:00

06/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Hamburg
006 5 Hamburg
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. One of these aircraft, R,3169, after having bombed the target area, and while on return journey, crashed into a barrage balloon cable at the mouth of the River Humber and dived into the water. The rear gunner, SGT. Craven, was the only survivor of the crew of six. The bomb load carried by the ten machines consisted of 1000 lbs., 500 lbs., and 250 lbs.

Bombs were dropped by all aircraft, but owing to heavy cloud no results were observed. No observations were made and no reconnaissance carried out. Some light and heavy A.A. fire was experienced on route and in target area. Searchlights were few and ineffective. No enemy aircraft were encountered. The weather was not good, ten-tenths cloud being experienced over route and target area. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro,

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 05:05
Flight Time 06:35

08/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Hamburg
008 5
Twelve Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. One of these aircraft, TBO.404, returned to base with bombs on account of rear turret and guns being out of order. The remaining aircraft all dropped their bombs and bursts were seen in target areas, as a result of which many fires were started. A.A. Fire was intense and fairly accurate, and searchlights were active. Enemy aircraft were numerous but no attacks were made. The weather was good, but a little too clear. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T, map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 05:10
Flight Time 07:10

“A trip to Mannheim nearly proved to be our last. We were hit by heavy flak near Worms, the starboard engine lost power, and we lost height from 13,000 down to 3,000 feet, before George could regain control and restart the engine. Не climbed to 4,000 feet before the engine started to overheat and we lost height again. The bombs guns and flares along with everything else that could be jettisoned were thrown out in an attempt to maintain height. We continued our erratic way across France at а ground speed of 80 mph, losing height until we crossed the coast at Calais at zero feet. We made our last climb to clear the cliffs at Dover and made а forced landing at Manston. We slept the sleep of the dead that night and were collected in the morning by S/Ldr. Widdowson, our flight commander. Our aircraft was unservicable for a fortnight. The following night, we went to Hamburg for the third time.”


09/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Mannheim
009 5
Twelve Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. All bombs were dropped, and bursts and fires were seen in target area. Moderate A.A. fire was encountered in target area but this was not very accurate. Searchlights were not active. A number of enemy aircraft were seen bit no attacks made. The weather was fine and visibility good. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T and map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:20 – Landed 03:45
Flight Time 05:25

11/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Hamburg
0011 05
Eleven Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. One of these aircraft, Captained by S/L. Widdowson, was attacked by an unforeseen aircraft at 4000 feet near Cromer. The machine was badly damaged and the rear gunner, SGT Ganaway, was fatally wounded. Bombs were jettisoned in sea and aircraft returned to base. The remaining aircraft dropped all bombs and bursts were seen and fires started. Intense light and heavy A.A. fire was experienced in target areas and searchlights were active and working in cones. Several fighters were seen in target areas. The weather was good, but there was haze over target. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T. map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7848 AA-V

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:35 – Landed 06:15
Flight Time 07:40

“The moon waned, and we went to Cologne on a pitch black night, twelve days later. It was also a black night for casualties. Dave Pritchard flew home with some of his crew dead and his aircraft in bad shape. He was awarded an immediate D.S.O. Snowy Reid was lost on his last but one op’, Sergeant Joyce bled to death on the return flight, Jeff Rees, his captain, got a D.F.C., and his W/Op a D.F.M. The experience so unnerved the W/Op, he never flew again. Bob Gannaway stopped a cannon shell in his stomach, and I saw him brought from his turret, bloodless. Norman McIver, with whom I had trained, was lost on his first operation, when, flying south instead of north from Frankfurt, he flew into the Alps. It was a bad month, but a month in which we completed 9 operations. We were now classified as an experienced crew. I was 19, and it seemed an appropriate moment to make my first will.”

23/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Cologne
0023 5
Ten Wellington Aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 1000lbs. G.P.; 500lbs G.P.; 250 lbs. G.P.; and containers of incendiaries, while one flash bomb was carried by RWX.437.
RWX.241 attacked docks 4,5,6, at Dunkirk and reports that small fires were started in the vicinity.
RWX.275 reports that bombs were seen to burst.
Results were not observed by RWX.437.
Bomb bursts were seen by RWX.468 and reports that a large orange fire started in target.
RWX.585 bombed target area. Incendiaries were seen to burn and bombs burst.
RWX.616 dropped bombs through cloud, but bursts were not observed.
RWX.712 saw green flashes from incendiaries.
RWX.943 saw bombs burst through gaps in cloud.
RWX.991 bombed target and a small fire was started.
P/O Rees reports that no fires were observed, but there was one explosion larger than usual.
No observations were made, and no reconnaissance carried out.
Heavy and accurate A.A. fire was experienced over target areas.
There was a cone of 22 searchlights at Dunkirk. Elsewhere they were intense and fairly accurate.
No enemy aircraft were encountered.
The Weather was fair, but visibility was bad. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro, map reading

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:00 – Landed 04:55
Flight Time 04:55

 

“On the morning of May 27, after being on standby for twelve hours, we were awakened at 0300 hours and briefed for a daylight interception of the German battleship Bismark somewhere in the Bay of Biscay. The Bismark sank the Hood with one devastating salvo but in the ensuing action had sustained damage herself. It was assumed that Brest was her destination for repairs. Twelve aircraft left Feltwell at 0700 hours flying in four vics of three, each carrying 6 X 500 pound armour piercing bombs in their black bellies. The urgency of the mission had not allowed for our state of operational un- readiness for a daylight operation of this nature. The aircraft undersides were black and its topsides a field camouflage pattern of green and brown. Our guns were harmonized to 300 yards, not for a daylight range of 600 yards. The meteorological forecast was 100% accurate in its prediction of cloud distribution,

The cloud base remained constant at 500 – 1,000 feet, thereby nullifying any possible effectiveness our bombs might have. Armour piercing bombs, to be effective, need to be dropped from a height of 5,000-10,000 feet.

We flew apprehensively southwards to the Scillies, like 12 black crows silhouetted against the low patchy cloud.

The Scillies looked beautiful, peaceful and untroubled at nine o’clock on this May morning. People could be seen. going about their work in the orderly, patterned fields. Our spirits were given а welcome lift when, without exception, they looked up and waved. The way I felt, they could well have been waving goodbye, but for those few fleeting moments I read it as a greeting, an acknowledgement. I felt good. .

While we were over the Scillies, we were given a reference point 300 miles south west of the islands for the interception of the Bismark. The lead navigator in our ’vic’ of three aircraft was the least capable. It was said of him that he could get lost on the London Underground. My friend, Pat Carling, was the other navigator, and he shared my lack of faith in our leader. We kept our own individual air plots, and plodded on towards a theoretical point of interception. At 1100 hours we received a welcome message,

“The Bismark has been sunk. Proceed towards Brest. Make contact with a Hipper type cruiser, believed to be the Prinz Eugen”.

The cloud base remained at between 500-1,000 feet and visibility was never more than a 1,000 yards. On our leaders orders, a square search was flown, and, reliant on his navigational genius, we continued the search for an hour, getting nearer to the French coast and German fighter cover by the minute. We saw nothing other than the grey-blue of the eternal Atlantic and the occasional seabird. It, therefore, came as a great surprise to find ourselves in a patch of clear sky, like dancers on an empty ballroom floor. Behind us, at 600 yards, an Arado sea-plane was firing at us with one 20mm cannon and two machine guns. He was hitting us, and we could only hit him by accident, as he was able to stay outside the arc of our fire-power. The engagement was over in a minute or so, and our three aircraft all sustained minor damage.

I was glad to see our leader turning smartly into the nearest bank of cloud and hear him telling us to proceed independently. We left the Arado victorious in his patch of sunshine, and flew westwards for some minutes then turned onto a north easterly heading for the Scillies. Three minutes on our new course, flying at 300 feet, which was just below the cloud base, we saw a Junkers 88 in a maritime livery of duck egg blue and white, approaching us at right angles at wave top height. The Ju 88 crew were clearly visible, as they traversed our path less than a 100 yards beneath us, apparently oblivious of our presence. Briefly, we considered the alternatives of either bombing him or shooting at him. His nearness to the water would have meant him dipping a mug into the waves on taking even the mildest of evasive action. These thoughts lasted for as long as it took the Ju 88 to cross our path, a matter of mere seconds.

Did they or did they not see us? If they saw us, I can only assume that they were as grateful as we were, as we followed our respective paths away from each other. This was my first sight of the enemy, I had seen three German faces.

Four and a half hours later, we were back at base with our bombs still on board. At debriefing, the Arado incident was reported several crews; The squadron must have been very close to the Prinz Eugen for the short range Arado to have been able to take part in, such an offensive defensive action. We all offered a silent prayer of thanks for the low cloud of the day, as it had prevented the certain loss of twelve Wellingtons.”

 

27/05/1941 – Daylight Search for Hipper Class Cruiser
0027 05
Twelve Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out the above search. The bomb lead was mixed and consisted “B” bombs, 500 lbs. S.A.P. The target was not located and all bombs were bought back. A large number of enemy aircraft were encountered and attacks were made on our aircraft. No serious damage was sustained. Good weather was experienced. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 07:00 – Landed 16:20
Flight Time 09:20

“June 1941, proved to be a frustrating month. The weather was perfect, the sun shone in a cloudless sky day after day, and the squadron was scheduled for a dozen operations, but due to the threat of fog, at base on return, we flew only five in the month, of which only one could be described as successful.”

10/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Brest
0010 6
Twelve Wellington aircraft of this Unit carried out the above attacks. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 2000lbs. S.A.P., 500 lbs. S.A.P. 250lbs. S.A.P., whilst RGS.772 carried one flash bomb.
Owing to smoke screen and ground haze no results were observed but all bombs were dropped.
No observations were made.
There was moderate light and heavy A.A. fire, but not accurate.
There were few searchlights.
Two enemy aircraft were seen, but no attacks made.
The weather was fine, but there was haze over the target.
D/R, astro, map reading, W/T.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1177 AA-C

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:55 – Landed 06:25
Flight Time 05:30


“On June 12, we flew to Hamm in the Ruhr, getting back to base in the early hours of the morning. ”

12/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Hamm
0012 6
Ten Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. A mixed bomb load was carried, consisting of 1000lbs, G.P., 500lbs. G.P.; 250lbs. G.P.; and containers of incendiaries.
KHS.163 dropped all bombs and fires were started.
KHS.312 saw bombs burst in group of fires.
KHS.527 reports bombs burst in target area.
KHS.524 saw bombs burst and incendiaries start a small red fire which burned for some time. The target itself was not pinpointed although it was in the vicinity of Hamm.
KHS.634 reports large fires at North and East of marshalling yards.
KHS.763 did not observe results.
KHS.809 reports bombs were dropped on target.
KHS.862 bombed primary target.
Results were not observed by P/O. Ashworth
KHS.981 saw bombs burst in target area.
A number of flashing beacons were seen in enemy territory. Heavy and light A.A. fires was experienced. This was fairly accurate. Searchlights were fairly active, working in cones.
KHS.635 reports that at position 090 50 miles SOUTHWOLD he was attacked by three enemy aircraft. One is believed to have been shot down by rear gunner. On turning back to confirm he was chased by remaining two.
The weather was fairly good, with ground haze over the target area. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro and map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic L7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Brian Smith, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Charles ‘Syd’ Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:55 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 05:25


“Safe in the knowledge that ‘we were free for the night, we paid no heed to the significance of the date, June 13, as we made our plans for a thrash in Norwich. Jock rode pillion with me on my old Sunbeam, while Brian Smith rode pillion on Tompsett’s Triumph Speed Twin. We had a goodnight out, beer in the Bell, dancing in the Samson and Hercules ballroom, then a few hours sleep in the Temperance hotel, before returning to Feltwell in the early morning. Jock and I left first, on the slower bike, expecting Tompsett to pass us on the way. I reflected briefly on his failure to do so as I came into Feltwell. I made my way to my room, washed and shaved, then went to the ante-room, where I learnt that Tompsett and Smithy had been in a serious accident. Tompsett was dead, Smithy, very seriously Injured, was in Norwich Infirmary. They had met the leading lorry of an Army convoy on the crown of the road. Smithy was catapulted through the lorry load of soldiers, and sustained a broken pelvis, legs and arms and injuries to his head.

(Smithy was hospitalised for a year. Following a period of convalescence, he was posted to Moreton in Marsh for a refresher course on Wellingtons. His father, a pilot of the first War, was the flying Control officer at Moreton. Father and son enjoyed each other’s company for a few months before learning of Smithy’s posting to the Middle East. The night before he was due to fly out to Malta, he and his crew were killed on take-off. The duty control officer that night was his father)”

Sgt. Stanley Charles Tompsett, RAFVR 914760 – Front Gunner.
Died in a motorcycle accident age 27.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. L. E. J. Tompsett, of Brighton.
Buried Brighton and Preston Cemetery, Sussex, England..
Grave location – Sec. A. Grave 478.

No further details regarding the death of  Sgt. Brian Smith at this time

16/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Dusseldorf
0016 6
Fifteen Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks. All bombes were dropped and bursts and fires were observed in target areas. Fairly accurate heavy and light A.A. fire was encountered, and searchlights, working in cones, were very active. FKU.846 reports being attacked by JU.88 on return journey. Cannon shells entered fuselage near elevator and machine gun bullets hit rear turret. There were no casualties. The weather was fine. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, map reading, astro, loop, lorenz

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – 1st Navigator
Sgt. Morrison as joint Nav, RAFVR – 2nd Navigator.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Jack Dennis Thompson, RAFVR 1152206 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:15 – Landed 03:15
Flight Time 04:00

18/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Brest
0018 6
Seventeen Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. One aircraft, MFW.819 was unable to locate the target on account of low cloud and smoke screen and bombs were bought back. Bombs were dropped by the remaining aircraft, but owing to smoke screen, bursts were not observed. Moderate light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered, and searchlights were active. The weather was fine but there was slight haze over target area. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, map reading, astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter, RCAF J.3754 – 1st Navigator
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – 2nd Navigator.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Jack Dennis Thompson, RAFVR 1152206 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:40 – Landed 04:30
Flight Time 05:50

21/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Cologne and Dunkirk
0021 6
Fifteen Wellington aircraft of this Unit carried out the above attacks. Bombs were dropped in target areas and a number of large fires were started. Moderate heavy and light A.A. fire was experienced, and searchlights were moderate. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. Weather was fine but there was ground haze and cloud in Cologne area. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro, map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
F/S McLauchlin, RAFVR – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Jack Dennis Thompson, RAFVR 1152206 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:10 – Landed 02:15
Flight Time 03:05

“George. Curry was nearing the end of his operational tour, and nervousness gave his voice a new, shriller note, which did nothing to allay his crew’s anxieties.

Tompsett’s death and Smithy’s injures made us realise we were mortal after all. George Curry became edgier, and showed no interest in our choice of Sgt. Thompson as our new front gunner. He made no move to replace Smithy. We drifted dangerously towards our sixteenth operation, George’s thirtieth. The target was the naval dockyard at Kiel. Not the best of targets for your last operation, entailing a flying time of seven hours, five of which saw us silhouetted against the lights of the Aurora Borealis, very tempting to a night fighter. The trip was a nightmare right from the announcement of the target at briefing. George had no heart for it. He was nervous and irritable at dispersal before take-off.

The ground crew, in trying to raise our spirits, only succeeded in doing the opposite, each well intentioned word or phrase only adding to the air of gloom and foreboding. I was glad to be airborne and occupied. It was a beautiful clear night, visibility, unfortunately limitless, but luck was with us, and no fighters emerged from the dark shelter of the Frisian islands. Skirting the defences of Sylt, we crossed the coast of Schelwig-Holstein at Busum then flew onto Kiel, keeping the well defined and defended Kiel kanal on our right. The guns and searchlights were busy over the limited area of the dockyard. I could see my target clearly; I set up my bomb sight and gave George the course to steer. For the first time in 16 trips, he queried my directions and, for the first time, I experienced terror over fright.

I was certain that, for that brief moment, George was about to abort the bombing run. We made the run, but, as so often happens when something is done in a half hearted manner, things go wrong, and thus it was that night. We had barley shed our bomb load from 13,000 feet, when we were coned in searchlights, a sitting target for fighters or flak. At our most vulnerable. George came good again. He stall-turned the Wimpy, losing lights in the wild suddenness of the manouvere, which took us down to 6,000 feet in a second or so. It was a brilliant piece of flying that compensated for the preceding nonsense. We reached home without further incident. ”


24/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Kiel and Dusseldorf
0024 6
Eighteen Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks. Two of these aircraft jettisoned bombs. The others reached the targets and bombs were dropped. Bursts were seen. A.A. fire and searchlights were intense, but no enemy aircraft were encountered. The weather was fine but there was thick ground haze at some parts. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T, map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O George William Curry, RAFVR 86389 – Pilot.
Sgt. John Anthony Matetich, RAFVR 778235 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Gwyn Martin, RAFVR 981426/ 110857 – Observer.
Sgt. Albert George Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Jack Dennis Thompson, RAFVR 1152206 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:25 – Landed 04:25
Flight Time 06:00

“In the morning we said goodbye to George, then collected out leave passes and warrants and went home for a week. Mam thought I looked thin, so she fed me. My girlfriend thought I looked old and drained, so she loved me. Between them they restored my equilibrium sufficiently for me to return to 75 Squadron for some more of the same medicine.”

Click here to continue the crew’s Tour  with Tony Saunders……..