Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

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georgetanksherman
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Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

Post by georgetanksherman » Sun Jul 31, 2022 6:35 pm

Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis, J/24086, Albion, Pennsylvania, assigned to R.C.A.F. No. 428 Squadron

Distinguished Service Order
Acting Flight Lieutenant Russell Edward CURTIS.D.F.M. (Can/J.24086), R.C.A.F., 428 (R.C.A.F.) Sqn.

August 1944, the crew of an aircraft detailed to attack Dortmund. Whilst on the bombing run the aircraft came under heavy anti-aircraft fire and was hit. Flight Lieutenant Curtis was wounded in the head, despite the severity of his injury, this brave pilot remained at the controls and pressed home his attack. Not until the task was accomplished did he ask for assistance. He afterwards collapsed and was placed in the rest position. Flight Lieutenant Curtis had sustained a compound fracture of the skull. "Until the time he became incapable of further action he had displayed the courage and tenacity of a fine leader.”

Now the hard part, not sure if anyone can find the info on which aircraft this happened, looked high and low with no results. Believe it was a Lancaster, as the squadron had swapped from Halifax bombers to Lancaster bombers June of 1944.

Any help or info would be appreciated,

Cheers

George

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Temujin
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Re: Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

Post by Temujin » Mon Aug 01, 2022 1:35 am

Here he is George. Flight was actually 12 Sept 44
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Re: Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

Post by georgetanksherman » Mon Aug 01, 2022 12:47 pm

Thank You very much Temujin, WOW, what a story about him AND the rest of the crew, did not know that the rear gunner F.O. J.J. Flood was KIA, may he Rest in Peace ! Cannot find any more info on F/L R.E. Curtis, so I am assuming the injuries were serious enough for a discharge.

Cheers and Thank You

George

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Re: Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

Post by Temujin » Mon Aug 01, 2022 8:25 pm

georgetanksherman wrote:
Mon Aug 01, 2022 12:47 pm
Thank You very much Temujin, WOW, what a story about him AND the rest of the crew, did not know that the rear gunner F.O. J.J. Flood was KIA, may he Rest in Peace ! Cannot find any more info on F/L R.E. Curtis, so I am assuming the injuries were serious enough for a discharge.

Cheers and Thank You

George
Your welcome, found this:
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Re: Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

Post by Temujin » Mon Aug 01, 2022 8:34 pm

More info

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 Nov 1944, Sat • Page 18
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The Windsor Star
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
15 Mar 1943, Mon • Page 10
03797749-0908-44AB-ABA8-3274551B87D2.jpeg
03797749-0908-44AB-ABA8-3274551B87D2.jpeg (570.27 KiB) Viewed 214 times
The Expositor
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
14 Jun 1943, Mon • Page 7
E51CA599-C4F4-481D-86E7-34933A2EC48C.jpeg
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Re: Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

Post by Temujin » Mon Aug 01, 2022 8:48 pm

More:

Liverpool Echo
Liverpool, Merseyside, England
03 Nov 1944, Fri • Page 3
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Re: Flight Lt. Russell E. Curtis

Post by Temujin » Tue Aug 02, 2022 2:28 am

CURTIS, Sergeant Russell Edward (R66257, later J24086) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.104 Squadron - Award effective 1 December 1942 as per London Gazette dated 4 December 1942 and AFRO 2069/42 dated 18 December 1942.

American in RCAF. Born in Pennsylvania, 20 May 1921; home in Albion, Pennsylvania. Attended a “civilian military training camp” for four years. Farm hand and florist, 1937 to 1939. Employed in 1940 by Skelly’s Flying Service, Greenville, Pennsylvania as mechanic, pilot, obtaining private pilots license.

Enlisted in Niagara Falls, Ontario, 7 October 1940.
To No.1 Manning Depot, 7 October 1940.
To No.1 BGS, 8 November 1940 for non-flying duties.
To No.1 ITS, 15 January 1941 (graduated 20 February 1941); to No.10 EFTS on 21 February 1941 (graduated 22 April 1941)
To No.1 Manning Depot, 22 April 1941;
To No.8 SFTS, 2 May 1941 (graduated 27 July 1941 and promoted Sergeant).
Warned for embarkation, 28 July 1941.
To RAF overseas, 15 August 1941.
Taken on strength of No.3 PRC, Bournemouth, 8 September 1941.
To No.21 OTU, 23 September 1941.
To No.15 OTU, 4 January 1942.
To Middle East, 18 January 1942.
Promoted Flight Sergeant, 1 February 1942.
Taken on strength of No.104 Squadron, Middle East, 14 February 1942.
Promoted WO2, 1 August 1942.
To No.23 Personnel Transit Centre, 15 October 1942.
Repatriated to Canada, 21 December 1942, disembarking 31 December 1942.
Commissioned 20 February 1943.
To No.1 Flying Instructor School, 5 March 1943.
To No.5 SFTS, 10 June 1943.
Promoted Flying Officer, 20 August 1943.
To No.12 (Communications) Squadron, 31 October 1943 as ferry pilot.
To No.165 (Transport) Squadron, 8 December 1943.
To “Y” Depot, Halifax, 31 March 1944.
Taken on strength of No.3 Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, 24 April 1944 (actually the date he embarked from Halifax).
Disembarked in Britain, 7 May 1944.
To No.61 Base, 25 May 1944.
Attached to Dalton Battle School, 25 May to 1 June 1944.
Attached to No.1666 Conversion Unit, 1-29 June 1944.
To No.428 Squadron, 29 June 1944.
Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 29 July 1944.
To No.64 Base, 28 September 1944.
Repatriated 28 December 1944.
Released 23 April 1945.

As of 1949 he was with Spartan School of Aeronautics, in Oklahoma. DFC and DFM presented in Chicago, 28 November 1947.

Died January 1990 as per Airforce Magazine of July-August-September 1990. Medals and logbook displayed in RCAF Memorial Museum, Trenton, Ontario. Shown in photographs PL-34736 and PL-14749.

Sergeant Curtis is a most determined pilot who, throughout his operational career, has always succeeded in his attacks which have sometimes been made in the face of severe ground opposition. Once, following an attack on the marshalling yards at Messina, his aircraft was hit and severely damaged. With great skill he flew it back to base, executing a masterly landing without injury to his crew. Three weeks later the engine of his aircraft failed when over the target area but by superb airmanship he managed to maintain height for two hours in bad weather conditions, before making a successful crash landing without injuring his crew. This airman's operational record was of the very highest standard and his technical ability outstanding. // NOTE: Public Records Office Air 2/9606 has recommendation dated 3 November 1942 which is rather more detailed than that published:

This Non-Commissioned Officer has completed 29 operational sorties and has always shown the greatest determination at bombing the target. Without exception on all trips that he has completed he has bombed in the target area, in many cases against severe ground opposition. On three of his trips he has saved his crew through piloting of the highest order. Once after attacking Messina with a 4,000-pound bomb and hitting the marshalling yards, causing very large explosions and fires, his aircraft was hit and one of the fuel lines severed. This became evident shortly after leaving the target and one engine stopped. He managed to isolate the damaged system and returned over Malta where both engines cut through lack of fuel. He was unable to make a landing on the aerodrome and successfully executed a perfect landing in the water just off shore without injury to the crew. // Three weeks later while attacking Tmini aerodrome the engine failed over the target. He maintained height for two hours in conditions of low cloud and bad visibility, found a flarepath and made a successful landing without damage to the aircraft or injury to the crew. // Yet again, returning from a raid, one engine caught fire over the Delta which he extinguished and as he was losing height fast, set course for the nearest aerodrome. He was unable to complete a circuit ad had to land across the flarepath. This landing he executed with great skill and brought the machine to rest again without damage or injury to his crew.

This Non-Commissioned Officer's operational record so far is of the very highest standard and his ability to handle aircraft under adverse conditions gives an example of the ability he displays when under enemy fire.

CURTIS, F/L Russell Edward, DFM (J24086) - Distinguished Service Order - No.428 Squadron - Award effective 3 November 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 1/45 dated 5 January 1945. Cited with F/O D.A. McGillivray (RCAF, awarded DSO), F/L Hugh F. Smith (RCAF, awarded DFC), F/O Robert G. Marshall (RCAF, awarded DFC), F/O Charles F. Wattie (RCAF, awarded DFC), and Sergeant J.D. Rose (RAF, awarded DFM). Medals and logbook displayed in RCAF Memorial Museum, Trenton, Ontario. // DHist file 181.009 D.1634 (RG.24 Volume 20604) has original recommendation by W/C A.C. Hull dated 15 September 1944 when he had flown 50 sorties (301 hours 40 minutes) as follows: // On the 12th August [sic, September], on the penultimate trip of his second tour, while attacking Dortmund, Flight Lieutenant Curtis’s aircraft was struck heavily by predicted flak while on the bombing run. Flight Lieutenant Curtis received dangerous head wounds and his rear gunner was killed. Despite the severity of his wounds he pressed on to the target, bombed successfully, and took his bombing photographs before turning off the target. Only then did he ask for assistance in piloting the aircraft. He then collapsed and was placed in the rest position. On arrival at hospita; it was found that Flight Lieutenant Curtis had received a compound fracture of the skull, necessitating immediate operation. For gallantry far beyond the ordinary, I recommend the immediate award of the DSO.

The sortie list covering both tours was as follows:

First Tour
15 March 1942 - Benghazi (7.20)
23 March 1942 - Salamis (9.30)
30 March 1942 - Benghazi (7.10)
11 April 1942 - Crete (7.40)
20 April 1942 - Benghazi (7.05)
23 April 1942 - Benghazi (8.00)
7 May 1942 - convoy (7.15)
9 May 1942 - Benghazi (7.25)
13 May 1942 - Benghazi (6.25)
26 May 1942 - Messina (3.20)
28 May 1942 - Messina (3.15)
29 May 1942 - Catania (4.40)
31 May 1942 - Messina (4.05)
3 June 1942 - Catania (2.50)
5 June 1942 - Naples (6.15)
6 June 1942 - Messina (2.35)
8 June 1942 - Taranto (5.50)
9 June 1942 - Taranto (5.45)
22 June 1942 - Tinimi (5.35)
27 June 1942 - Western Desert (5.40)
30 June 1942 - Crete (8.45)
2 July 1942 - Western Desert (5.10)
3 July 1942 - Western Desert (5.50)
6 July 1942 - Tobruk (4.55)
7 July 1942 - Tobruk (7.15)
8 July 1942 - Tobruk (6.40)
14 July 1942 - Tobruk (7.35)
5 September 1942 - Tobruk (7.45)
9 September 1942 - Tobruk (7.10)

Second Tour
5 July 1944 - Gardening (6.35)
18 July 1944 - Wesseling (6.15)
20 July 1944 - L’Hey (3.45, day)
23 July 1944 - Kiel (5.35)
24 July 1944 - Stuttgart (9.20)
25 July 1944 - Stuttgart (9..10)
28 July 1944 - Hamburg (5.20)
3 August 1944 - Bois de Casson (4.55, day)
4 August 1944 - Bois de Casson (4.30, day)
5 August 1944 - St. Leu (5.30, day)
7 August 1944 - Mer de Magna (4.50)
9 August 1944 - Coulonvillers (4.25, day)
10 August 1944 - La Pallice (6.55)
12 August 1944 - Brunswick (6.20)
14 August 1944 - Falaise (4.55, day)
15 August 1944 - Soesterberg (3.55, day)
25 August 1944 - Russellheim (9.00)
27 August 1944 - Mimoyceques (3.55, day)
29 August 1944 - Stettin (10.00)
6 September 1944 - Emden (4.05)
12 September 1944 - Dortmund

Notes:
On his first tour he reported 33 sorties (250 hours five minutes) with No.104 Squadron. Application for Bar to Operation Badge (22 September 1944) stated he had flown 21 sorties on second tour (124 hours 35 minutes) from 5 July to 12 September 1944.

On 8 May 1944 he stated that he would like to go to medium bombers, “Marauders if possible” and wanted J19504 P/O R.G. Marshall to be in his crew. It should be noted that Marshall was in his Lancaster crew on 12 September 1944.

Severely wounded, 12 September 1944 when hit by flak during a daylight raid on Dortmund. The rear gunner was killed (F/O J.J. Flood, Toronto, 21 sorties) and the bomb aimer flew the bomber home, making a successful landing at Woodbridge. Lancaster KB793, flak damage to fuselage and tail unit; port tyre burst on landing, aircraft swung and port undercarriage collapsed; port mainplane and propellers damaged; engines shock loaded. The left side of his skull was injured (compound fracture); lost power of speech when coming over the English Channel. Although he spoke of having his “brains hanging out”, he was not so dramatically injured, although surgery performed that day at Ipswich and Suffolk General Hospital. He recovered his speech the same night (15 hours after being wounded, 12 hours after operation). There had been much loss of blood and motor powers before operation. However, subsequent examinations confirmed skull damage and a plate was inserted on 23 February 1945.

Assessments: During his course at No.1 Flying Instructor School (21 April to 24 May 1943) he showed up well. “Throughout the course this man applied himself exceptionally well and has shown keen interest at all times. In my opinion he will prove an excellent instructor.” (F/O J.G. Stewart, 19 June 1943). // “This officer has completed an operational tour of duties as a bomber pilot. A hard working pilot who has very little interest in instructing. It iis recommended that he be retained in the service and promoted to the rank of Acting Flying Officer. Itt is suggested that he might be more suitable employed in some other capacity. “ (F/L A.T. Wilson, No.5 SFTS, Brantford, 12 August 1943). // RCAF Press Release No.8005 dated 28 December 1944 from F/O George Sinclair, transcribed by Huguette Mondor Oates, reads: // WITH RCAF IN BRITAIN: -- F/L R.E. Curtis, DSO, DFM, of Albion, PA., USA, did a full tour of bombing operations in the Mediterranean theatre. Then he did a second tour over Germany and won the Air Force’s second highest award for gallantry in an exploit that nearly cost him his life. Just released from hospital, he is passing through a RCAF Repatriation Depot on his way home for leave, and then, he hopes, for posting to the Pacific theatre, for Curtis hasn’t seen enough action yet. // During the bitter period of the Battle of Alamein and after, F/L Curtis and the Canadian crew of his Wellington were unloading bombs on Benghazi and other famed hot spots from bases in the desert and Malta. Several times he was badly shot up, and once, when his fuel tanks had been holed by shrapnel at Messina, he was forced to crash his bomber into California Bay, just short of his base in Malta. F/L Curtis won the Distinguished Flying Medal for that tour of operations. // When the Allies invaded Normandy, F/L Curtis again volunteered for action, this time piloting a Lancaster with the Canadian Bomber group in England, attacking many tactical targets in daylight as well as flying in the mass night attacks on German cities. // The flight which won F/L Curtis the Distinguished Service Order was the first daylight attack by the RCAF and RAF on the Rhur Valley. Next to Berlin, Germany’s most heavily defended area. It was to be Curtis’ last operation and the target was Dortmund. “We were just turning in on our bombing run,” F/L Curtis said, “when the kite shuddered and I found blood streaming down my face. We had picked up three direct hits. The rear gunner was killed, I was wounded in the head, the port rudder and the elevator trim were gone, and the aircraft looked like a sieve – but we still had four engines so we went on in to the target.” // In spite of his wound and the black puffs of flak bursts,which surrounded the Lancaster, Curtis brought the aircraft under control and made a successful bombing run. A few minutes later, he collapsed and the aircraft was brought back to a safe crash landing by the bomb-aimer. “None of us were even scratched on any of our other trips”, F/L Curtis says, “but once we had a drafty trip home from Stuttgart when a piece of shrapnel smashed our windshield.” // The 23-year-old pilot says he wants to stay with the RCAF and would like to unload a few bombs on Tokyo before he leaves the service.


Source: https://www.rcafassociation.ca/heritage ... l&type=all

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