Warrant Officer J. J. Curr, 404407 RAAF, Air Gunner - WIA (52 sorties)
Awards and Decorations
- 1939-1945 Star
- Air Crew Europe Star
- Africa Star
- Burma Star
- Defence Medal
- War Medal 1939-1945
- Australia Service Medal 1939-1945
Squadron and Movements
99 Squadron RAF (United Kingdom and Burma)
HQ ME RAF (Africa)
159 Squadron RAF (India)
John Curr was born in Woodburn, New South Wales, Australia on 14th August 1918 and enlisted into the RAAF on 16th August 1940. He was attached to the RAF. Curr was mustered as a Flight Sergeant air gunner. He flew in Vickers Wellington bombers, from airfields at Waterbeach Station, England and flew 30 sorties over Germany. He was attached to 99 Squadron RAF from October 30th 1940 to 12th April 1942.
On 14th April 1942, Curr was redeployed to HQ RAF ME (Middle East) as part of the transfer of 99 Squadron from England to India. The squadron transfer was a lengthy affair, however, the squadron was operational in December, flying from Digre, India.
Flying operations in India against the Japanese were very different to those flying over Europe. Temperatures were very hot and the humidity was stifling, not too mention monsoon conditions causing medical problems such as malaria. The squadron flew sorties to attack airfields and supply dumps in Burma. Many of the sorties were at night and the task required precise navigational ability; flying over a featureless jungle with no external aids. Operational flying was vastly different to that of Europe; There was little or no enemy fighter or anti aircraft opposition, but the long distances, mountains, weather and mechanical failures presented different hazards to the crews. If an aircraft crashed in the jungle it could take weeks to find.
Wellington Bomber Crash
On 14th June 1942 at 0300 hours, during the transit of 99 Squadron to India, Warrant Officer (then Flight Sergeant) Curr aboard a Wellington bomber (1 C DV 547), crashed on takeoff from Sharjah airfield in India. The aircraft failed to become airborne under no wind and using aerodrome’s long runways failed to clear observation and caught fire on crashing (official RAF communiqué). Curr was transported by boat and admitted to Karachi hospital suffering first and second degree burns to both hands and his left arm.
RIGHT: Warrant Officer J. J. Curr photographed in India wearing tropical uniform (note wings).
The remainder of his crew suffering similar injuries were also admitted. All were RAAF aircrew with the exception of the pilot, Pilot Officer D.S.T. Clair-Brown who was RNZAF. Curr was discharged from hospital fit for flying duties on 22nd April 1943 and posted to 159 Squadron. Additionally he was promoted to warrant officer on 1st September 1942.
159 Squadron operated in South East Asia Command (SEAC) flying Wellington type III and X medium bombers before changing to B-24 Liberator long-range heavy bomber aircraft in September 1944. The squadron flew bombing, mining and reconnaissance operations over Burma, Siam, Malaya, Indo-China and the Dutch East Indies until the end of hostilities.
Curr served in the squadron till 9th November 1943 before transferring to BHQ Calcutta for a period of three months before discharge on 2nd December 1944. Curr was repatriated to Australia being medically unfit for further air crew service at his present rank and mustering, in accordance with the provisions of Air Ministry Order A.739/42 which stated that RAAF personnel serving two years overseas were allowed to apply for repatriation to Australia. Curr had served for two and half years overseas. On discharge he held the rank of Warrant Officer.
LEFT: Wellington bomber and crew ready for operational flight from Waterbeach RAF station. Curr is on the right at far end (aircraft starboard engine). Aircraft is a Vickers Wellington medium bomber.
LEFT: Flight Sergeant J. J. Curr (left in khaki uniform), unidentified female and brother Flight Sergeant/pilot F. L. Curr (awarded Distinguished Flying Medal and bar). F. L. Curr was lost over water in northern Australia. Presumed KIA.
BELOW RIGHT: Wellington bomber being armed with bomb load before deployment on a sortie over Europe.
LEFT: Wellington Bombers flying formation.
NOTE - MORE TO COME ON THIS AIRMAN SOON (AWAITING RECORDS)