CHC life

A brief moment in time. Colin`s RAF cap badge and Wings, the end of course dinner menu in Canada, Colin`s RAF diary for 1942 (of which he only lived to see 20 days), his driving licence, the Bomber Command clasp, finally awarded to all living and deceased WW2 Bomber Command members in 2013….and a photo of him with Doris.




Colin was engaged to be married to Doris Fines, his childhood sweetheart. He was killed in January 1942 shortly after this photograph was taken.



The page in the Book of Remembrance at the RAF`s church, St Clement Danes in The Strand, London which includes the name of Colin Hubert Curtis. There are 48 other men named Curtis on this page alone, all with their own stories. Francis Wilfred Smith is also commemorated in the church. St Clement Danes was re-consecrated in 1958 as a perpetual shrine of remembrance to those killed on active service in the RAF and the Allied Air Forces during the Second World War. (Thanks to Philippe Daveney, Clerk at SCD)


Doris (2)

Miss Doris Fines from south Lincolnshire in 1941. Doris was engaged to be married to Pilot Officer Colin Curtis



Tiger Moth similar to the one in which Colin Curtis did his elementary flying training at Yeadon in 1941. He was involved in an accident during the course. This Moth was in the static at the Waddington air show in 2005, alongside modern types such as the KC135 and the Tornado. See Chapter 4 (Photo: MC)


Wellington DP2

Another of Denis Pannett`s paintings of Wellington bombers over East Anglia. The evocative `Moonlight over Norfolk` can be found in the book. The link to Denis` website is under Connections.



Flt Lt Francis Smith, aged 25, was my mother`s cousin. He was captain of a Sunderland flying boat with 201 Squadron. The aircraft crashed into the sea off Donegal two weeks after Colin disappeared. The bodies of the 12 men on board were never found – full story Chapter 24.


Sunderland FB

A Short Sunderland flying boat painted by Denis Pannett. Flt Lt Francis Smith was flying one of these when the aircraft crashed into the sea off  Donegal – see Chapter 24. (Link to Denis Pannett`s website off Connections)

Smith Canada cuttings

Cuttings from Canadian newspapers reporting the loss of Flt Lt Francis Wilfred Smith in February 1942 (Ch 24)

Rhoda & Frank

Rhoda Best, a nurse, and Francis Smith during their engagement before their wedding on 28th April 1941. Ten months later, with Rhoda three months pregnant, Francis was killed when his Sunderland flying boat crashed off Ireland (Ch 24)


The medals that Colin earned through his brief service in the war – the 1939-1945 Star, the 1939-1945 War Medal and the Air Crew Europe Star. They were posted to his mother a few months after the war ended. The Air Council wrote that it shared her sorrow that Pilot Officer C.H.Curtis did not live to receive them (Chapter 27)


Dad age 22

Wilf Curtis, younger brother of Colin and my father, joined the Army and became a motorcycle despatch rider in North Africa and Italy. Pictured here in Anzio in 1946 age 22 – the same age as Colin when he was killed.


Bomber Command Memorial, LondonThe Bomber Command Memorial, unveiled in Green Park, London in 2012 and 70 years after Z1110 disappeared with all on board. (Photo: MC)


Capt Frank Smith

Captain Frank Smith of the Royal Engineers. A teenage firefighter in Sunderland during the war, he joined the Army and became a senior bomb disposal officer. He was badly injured in Korea by `friendly fire`. He also suggested (unsuccessfully) a change to the new border between North and South Korea (Chapter 20)

Lt Ludwig Becker

Oberleutnant Ludwig Becker. The night fighter expert shot down the Wellington bomber of Colin Curtis, along with two other Wellingtons, on the night of 20 January 1942. He was killed just over a year later. (Chapters 12 and 16).


From an RAF recruiting pamphlet at the beginning of the war

201SQn 1

The 201 Squadron records detail the loss of Sunderland W3977 in February 1942 (Chapter 24)


Lincoln Cathedral, a striking visual reference point for pilots for more than a century. Within can be found the Airmen`s Chapel of St Michael where three memorial books are held listing thousands of men who lost their lives with Bomber Command in WW2. My father was ordained priest in the Cathedral in September 1952 and I read a lesson there during a recording of the BBC`s Songs of Praise in December 1984 (Ch 26) (Photo: Tom Curtis)


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