I am indebted to Howard Stanley for the following photographs. Howard lives 90 minutes from Île d'Oléron and paid a recent visit and his respects at Richard Curle's grave. Howard undertook to clear the weeds and debris from the grave and leave a poppy in remembrance.
Howard mentioned just two Second World War graves in the area. The other being in La Rochelle for Sgt. James Merry of 10 OTU, the pilot of a Whitley undertaking an anti-submarine operation in the Bay of Biscay. The Whitley crashed into the Bay of Biscay but the rest of Merry's crew survived and were taken prisoner. Howard is seeking any further information regarding this crew - contact me if you know more.
All photographs courtesy of Howard Stanley
I have recently been contacted by Peter from Canada. His uncle, Derek Davies, flew with 100 Squadron during part of his long service career. Squadron Leader Davies (later Wing Commander) was flight leader of A flight. He would almost certainly have known Richard Curle and the other crew.
Peter shared a page from Davies' log book showing him taking Lancaster III ED559 up for a long test flight on 25 February 1943.
Date - 25 Feb 1943
Type - Lancaster III
No. - ED559
Pilot - Self and it would appear with Flying Officer Pirie as extra navigator
Passengers - Crew
Duty - Base - Kinnairds Head 59N.09W - Tiumpan Head (Hebrides) - Douglas - Tudwals Island - Alscott - Oxford - Base Formation to 19.00 ft
This appears to be an exceptionally long test flight, some 1,800 km / 1120 miles, possibly to ensure the new/extra navigator could plot a good course.
Base - RAF Grimsby
Kinnaird's Head - Fraserburgh
Tiumpan Head - Isle of Lewis, Hebrides
Douglas - Isle of Man
Tudwal's Isalnd - Llŷn Peninsula, Wales
Allscott - Telford (I think this is the Alscott Davies is referring to)
Back to base RAF Grimsby
Image courtesy of Derek Davies' daughter
…seven men climbed onboard Lancaster ED559. Their loss still felt across the years.
F/Lt Richard A. Curle (Pilot) — RAF 121280 (Age 28)
Sgt David A. Hart (Flight Engineer) — RAF 567377 (Age 24)
F/O Harry Riding (Wireless Operator) — RAAF 403699 (Age 25)
F/O Errol C. Crapp (Navigator) — RAAF 411113 (Age 24)
P/O Charles S. Challoner (Bomb Aimer) — RAF 131995 (Age 37)
Sgt Daniel L. Gooch (Mid-Upper Gunner) — RAF 1336491 (Age 19)
Sgt Garnet W. Durdin (Rear Gunner) — RAAF 416149 (Age 25)
As and when information is found I'll post to this blog.
|The last flight of Lancaster ED559|