Interview with Richard Curnock

Title

Interview with Richard Curnock

Description

Richard Curnock was born in Grantham and joined the Royal Air Force in 1941. He achieved the rank of warrant officer and served in 425 Squadron. Richard tells of how he followed his two older brothers into the services, and his time serving in the Air Training Corp and in the Heavy Conversion Unit. Richard was in a Canadian crew and baled out after his aircraft was hit. He talks about his capture including details of United States Army Air Force aircrew being hanged from lamp posts and interrogation at the hands of the Gestapo. Talks about his time as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft 6. Richard took also part in the long march, when prisoners were moved west ahead of the Russian advance. Recollects when they were strafed by mistake by Typhoons, being flown back home, and his post war service in Italy dismantling Spitfires.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-04-18

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

00:53:16 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

ACurnockRM160418, PCurnockRM1602

Transcription

GR. This is Gary Rushbrook for the International Bomber Command Centre, Bomber Command Association. I am with Warrant Officer Richard Curnock, 425 Squadron and we are at Dicks’ home near Leicester in a village called Syston on the 18th of April 2016. Dick, just tell me a little about yourself, I know we are in Leicester, were you born in Leicester?
RC. No, I was born in Grantham [inaudible].
GR. So born in Grantham. Brothers, sisters?
RC. Three brothers I had Sam, Bob and myself, all three of us, well they went to higher school I went to elementary school myself and when the war came we all joined up together, well two joined up together in sequence with our age.
GR. Were you the youngest, oldest?
RC. Yes. I’m the youngest, and there was four years between us and Sam was the oldest and unfortunately he got killed and he went.
GR. Did you all join the RAF?
RC. He joined the RAF first and he passed out on, well he went over to Canada on training. I have got cousins and all sorts over in Canada. He had a great time over there and so when he came back he was in the [sic], where did he go into first. Oh I think he was in some training unit, but the next thing we knew he’d been seconded to the British Overseas Airways which is a civil airline and he was flying [inaudible] Whitley aircraft which is one of the worst things in the world. The Air Force sold fifteen of them, I think it was, to British Overseas Airways ‘cos they wanted to start a line up taking spare parts and that down to Gibraltar then onto the Middle East and he was, he was the pilot for one of these aircraft, fifteen of them sold to the Air Force.
GR. Had he, obviously we are going to talk about yourself in a bit, had he already done a tour with Bomber Command or anything?
RC. No he was straight over from training into BOAC and he got doing trips down to Gibraltar but on the fourth trip I think it was, he went on down [inaudible] there they had some aircraft, they wouldn’t fly properly. One time it was tail heavy, next time it was nose heavy, there was always something wrong with it and told him to have it [inaudible] from BOAC and give it some repairs on the tail unit and so they did that, gave him the parts to sort it out, so they thought would sort it out and they took off from Gibraltar and they went flying over the sea there, the bay, and all of a sudden it just dived into the sea. That was in 1943 [voice fades away].
GR. Just dived into the sea.
RC. No reason at all [inaudible]. That was in 1943.
GR. Was you in the Air Force by then?
RC. No I was at home then.
GR. Well we will backtrack a bit, so your elder brother did obviously volunteer for the RAF, middle brother?
RC. He volunteered as well.
GR. For the RAF?
RC. For the RAF yeah. He was accepted in the normal training and he finished up in Canada as well and he came back and he was on training Airspeed Oxfords. This is where I first met him, I didn’t know he was anywhere near me. We’d been up in Dalcross and saw him and I was on a gunnery course up there, air gunnery and flying in those things, Ansons.
GR. Ansons. Looking at a model of an Anson, looking at a lot of models actually but yes, the Anson training aircraft.
RC. Little did I know but he was on flying Airspeed Oxfords on night, night vision courses, sorry for night vision and I happened to be walking out one night with the lads. In front of me was some other airmen and I thought I know that walk [laugh] no it can’t be, it was, it was my brother, I didn’t know he was there. The last I knew he was in Canada. He’d come back [inaudible] in the Mediterranean doing, he was doing a bit of training up there, doing night flying. So we had three weeks together up there and he got posted away somewhere and he posted out of the Air Force I didn’t know what happened to him. But for some reason he was post, transferred from the Air Force into the Royal Signals but why he was taken I have no idea.
GR. And he doesn’t know.
RC. He wouldn’t know now because he is dead now.
GR. Yes, yes.
RC. He was supposed to be on a night vision flying course but I never knew, the next thing I knew was that [inaudible] he was a year later he was, it was over a year later he was in [inaudible] sorry.
GR. No, no, no, it’s absolutely fine.
RC. He got transferred to the Royal Signals then went over to D-Day over on the continent for the rest of the war.
GR. So the younger brother, yourself when did you join up, you obviously volunteered?
RC. That’s me, volunteered in 19 [Pause].
GR. Well am just looking through the memoirs and I can see a photograph of you in uniform in 1941 is that the three of you. You must have joined up in about 1941.
RC. Yeah oh I was in the ATC for ages, about four years and then the [pause].
GR. You obviously followed your two brothers.
RC. Yes I followed them and [pause]
GR. Where did you do your training?
RC. We went to start, first of all down in London and went to a oh a big hotel somewhere.
GR. Would that be St Johns’ Wood, Lords Cricket Ground?
RC. Lords Cricket Ground and we were stationed down there [inaudible] for lessons and that, marching, used to march like mad up the streets of London and my feet have worn out [laugh]. We got quite a lot of that down there for a few inoculations and that when we first went there and boy they were stiff.
GR. Yes your arms were too many, too many injections.
RC. Every time you moved your arms ,oh, ah, somebody hit you, oh, oh. Anyway we got over it and from there I went onto Bridlington, Bridgnorth for a start for training as as air gunner and from Brignorth we went up to Bridlington and we did a lot of work on the Aldis lamp, signalling. We were sending on the beach to somebody up on the pier, letters and figures, and reading this back and we were there for, oh, probably there, how long I was there, I can’t remember. From Bridlington where did we go after Bridlington, oh, to Scotland.
GR. Dalcross.
RC. Dalcross and at Dalcross we were flying Ansons.
GR. I think from Dalcross you moved onto Wellsbourne?
RC. That’s right that was the Conversion Unit and I went on to Wellingtons.
GR. Is that where you met your crew?
RC. That’s where we met crew first one that I met was those three there, the bottom three.
GR. Right I am looking at a photograph and those three gentlemen are?
RC. Bob Friskey, Eugene Fulham and the Skipper Chuck John were the three I met there and [inaudible] next one up.
GR. I think the other member of the crew was Gordon Dimswell.
RC. Oh Gordon that’s right, he was the bomb aimer.
GR. He was the bomb aimer.
RC. Yes that was the crew of the Wellington [inaudible]
GR. Which was the Wellington.
RC. Yeah we flew from Rosebourne in Yeadon.
GR. And then I presume you would have moved onto Heavy Conversion Unit where you would have picked up two other crew members.
RC. That’s right we picked up Gene
GR. Gene Fulham
RC. No
GR. Ginger Wheadon.
RC. Ginger yeah, Ginger was the [interrupted]
GR. And Wes Carrick, you normally picked up a flight engineer and another air gunner.
RC. Yes a flight engineer.
GR. Just looking at another photograph, yeah.
RC. And the other one was, eh.
GR. Another air gunner.
RC. Another air gunner [inaudible].
GR. That’s Wes Carrick.
RC. Yes.
GR. Just looking at a reunion photo with Wes on.
RC. [inaudible] we picked him up and then we went to a Conversion Unit.
GR. Then you spent about four to six weeks at a Heavy Conversion Unit getting used to flying four engined.
RC. [Dick speaking quietly in the background under Gary]
GR. What aircraft were you flying at the Heavy Conversion Unit.
RC. Halifaxes.
GR. I know some people used Stirling’s, you went straight onto Halifax.
RC. [inaudible] Halifax three.
GR. Halifax III’s yeah, what did you think of the Halifax?
RC. Fantastic, yeah it was a good aircraft [inaudible] yeah chucked about a bit being the rear gunner, skipper was good at landing most times, sometimes I was bounced, head to toe, boom, boom, boom, boom.
GR. This was during the Heavy Conversion Unit, and when did you find out what squadron you would be going to?
RC. I think we moved on from there, [inaudible] Conversion Unit then onto the squadron and eh.
GR. That’s 425
RC. That’s 425 Squadron yes and.
GR. Was that French or Canadian?
RC. French Canadian
GR. French Canadian squadron.
RC. Yes French Canadian squadron on eh
GR. I think they flew from Tolthorpe and then Dishforth wasn’t it.
RC. No Dishforth first Tolthorpe second, yes it was only our second trip was in fact. Did one trip and got half way there and turned around engine failure.
GR. That was your first trip?
RC. First trip, engine failure, I think we only did about three or four hours in the air and had to turn back, over France, had a port engine failure.
GR. How did the crew feel about that, you know, your first operation, was it daylight or night time?
RC. Night time.
GR. Night time.
RC. Yeah well you just worked it out, starting on our first trip this sort of thing happens and of course we had [interrupted] to turn around.
GR. And that’s the pilots decision to, eh.
RC. Yes, turn about, drop the bombs in the sea and come back home. Our next trip was, where was that.
GR. Your first mission was the 24th/ 25th.
RC. Yeah that’s right.
GR. Then according to your records you flew the following night.
RC. We did yeah.
GR. Augsburg.
RC. Augsburg yes.
GR. What happened then?
RC. We didn’t get there [laughs].
GR. So after your first trip which was aborted, your second trip.
RC. We got within I think we were about eighty odd miles away from where we were going, which was down at Augsburg. I think we were probably an hours flying from the target. The skipper said he could see the target, I couldn’t in the back, but they could see the target and everything. Target so and so, so and so the next thing I knew ‘Woom’ the anti aircraft.
GR. Anti aircraft fire.
RC. Anti aircraft fire hit the port wing in between the two engines the right place and set them both on fire and so I was in [inaudible] nothing but flames coming past my turret and it eh.
GR. And I can’t presume to think how you felt.
RC. You can’t no. Eh it was such a bang, just like dustbins, bang and so the skipper came on and said we have been hit, I think we will have to abort [inaudible]. I think we all said ‘do you want us to bale out?’ We all said our names, we got the message [inaudible]. The mid upper gunner and myself got out the back end [inaudible] he came down [inaudible].
GR. When you say the back end was that out through the rear turret.
RC. No I didn’t go out through the.
GR. There was a door, wasn’t there?
RC. Yeah, on the right hand side and so the mid upper and myself went out from the rear part. But the thing was we said ‘all right Skipper we are going now, happy landings’ or some stupid thing and as I was getting out of the turret the parachute was in the fuselage anyway [inaudible] so put that on and I said ‘remember what you got to do.’ ‘Cause you have all sorts of things plugged in there, you got to take these things out. So I thought alright, I was getting the things on before I took me helmet off, took everything else off before I put my helmet back on again, it’s going to be cold out there. And the sort of things that went through your mind you know so I spoke to Wes who came down and shook hands and said ‘see you later’ the stupid things you did so we both went out the back, there were flames dashing by us. And I went out, I think I, yes, I went out first, he said you [inaudible] and went out in front and he followed me behind and the things you think of when you are floating down. The first thing was count to ten before you pull your rip cord, then I felt my parachute was clipped on, I thought [inaudible] floating down I thought one, two, oh bugger it [laugh] and I pulled it [inaudible]. Floating down, do nothing [inaudible] coming down, no idea where we were, there were towns and everything but apparently we were coming down over a town. Of course towns have got buildings and when I started coming down I thought what am I going to come down on [inaudible]. Things coming up I thought ‘God, I am going to land on a Church’ and then I thought they are trees and I landed in between two big poplar trees. There was a little tree down below and apple tree, I shot through this apple tree.
GR. You went into the apple tree which was lower down.
RC. It was lower down and I frightened the squirrels a bit [laugh]. Anyway [inaudible] this could take time. I sat there and thought, oh, there is an air raid siren going. Oh [inaudible] taking my outer clothing of, get me flying suit, it was definitely colder, as it was winter time oh I tried, I climbed over the wall in the garden onto the road, I thought, how am I going to get out of this place? I walked round to see where I am, [inaudible] every time I walked out to go somewhere there was an all clear, so they had two, two all clears in [inaudible]. So one of those is gone, saw me walking round and I heard the siren go again so I thought quick turn around, I thought I had better get back into the place [inaudible] So I went back into the garden. I went in, put my flying clothes back on and went to sleep. Thought the best thing I could do. I couldn’t see myself going to walk out through a town with flying clothes, wouldn’t have got very far and, eh.
GR. And did the thought, because by 1944 obviously the German civilian population didn’t take kindly to Bomber Command going over.
RC. They didn’t.
GR. And we have heard some stories.
RC. Well I could tell you when we were taken from the police station.
GR. So what happened to you in the morning, was you?
RC. In the morning, sorry, I was still asleep and there was a squirrel came over me, that woke me up and two old ladies walked out of the house next door to me.
GR. Saw you.
RC. Well they saw the parachute stuck up the tree [inaudible]. I thought I will get somebody round in a minute. Anyway I waited a minute and a policeman came round. He was shorter than me, I have never seen anything like it, he’d got a hat, black, it was a big black helmet, nearly as big as he was. I nearly laughed my head off but thought I had better not, so anyway he told me to take my flying suit off, so I took those off and he had a bicycle there and made me put the stuff on the bicycle and we rode to the police station and he had a gun pointed at me [inaudible]. Took me round the police station and from there they, what did he do? He took us round to the Gestapo headquarters and, eh.
GR. When you said they had.
RC. The police had contacted the Air Force.
GR. Was you on your own or were there any more of your crew.
RC. I was on my own then but they picked up the mid upper gunner and the bomb aimer, three of us and they took us back to the Gestapo Headquarters but on the way down they decided they would take us in a tram. Of course there are Civilians in a tram [inaudible] I didn’t know whether we were going to get out of there after that because on the lamp posts on the way bodies were hung up. American airmen.
GR. American airmen were hanging from the lamp posts.
RC. Yeah hanging from the lamp posts which didn’t go down very well with us and we got lots of black looks from people around about us and we had to get off it. So then to Gestapo headquarters, I got all my flying kit on over me arms and that and the wireless operator, he done a stupid thing he landed in a tree and instead of finding a way to get down from the tree he decided to release himself, ‘woom’ dropped how [inaudible] fractured his spine. So we gets in this Gestapo headquarters and he was there and he said his back hurts and that. And this Gestapo chap comes in from the other room, picked up a chair and went to hit him with it. So it just happened I had got my clothes over my arm, my flying clothes, I put it up and stopped him hitting him, he was bashing him on the head with a chair. So anyway from then on I think we stayed one night in three cells and then they took us, we had three nights in a room, single room, as big as this. You was put in there and kept in there, I think it was for three nights they kept us in this room and kept coming in asking questions, switching the light off, keeping you in the dark and that went on for about three days.
GR. You yourself were physically?
RC. Oh no and then they took us in and put us all together in the interrogation. Taken in one at a time, the officer in the room first thing he said to me ‘did you like flying your Halifax’. ‘Yes it was very nice’. Oh dear, so he was going on about this and he said ‘let’s see, Canadian’, ‘no, not Canadian’, [inaudible] ‘no, French Canadian’. He didn’t like that much. [inaudible] This commander, commander so and so, could be. We know his daughter and he gave us the name of his daughter. He said ‘didn’t you go out with his daughter?’ I said ‘no, not me’ [laugh]. Yeah, that sort of thing, he didn’t say much about the Aircraft. He got sheets and sheets of stuff on the Halifax [inaudible]. And from there they took us to, where did they take us to, they took us to interrogation centre.
GR. Was that Dulagluft.
RC. Dulagluft from there [inaudible] what was going to happen from there on [inaudible]. We had the Americans [inaudible] I can’t think.
GR. A bag, looked like a suitcase. Little suitcase to put all your.
RC. Which had everything from a pipe.
GR. Did you get any Red Cross parcels then, I know you got them later?
RC. Yeah did later but for a start [inaudible] anyway we, we got this parcel with all the bits in it, beautiful shirts, underwear, ties, cigarettes, tobacco, pipes
GR. Everything you could.
RC. Everything you wanted.
GR. Just backtracking, did all the crew get out?
RC. Yes we all got out.
GR. You all got out.
RC. [inaudible] The wireless operator, he finished up in hospital but the rest of us finished up in the same camp.
GR. So you all got out of the aircraft.
RC Yeah we all got out all right yeah.
GR. So you were at Dulagluft feeling a bit sorry for yourselves.
RC. Yes we all were, anyway we weren’t treated too bad you know. They decided they had to move us out of the camp somewhere and I think from there we went to [interrupted].
GR. You ended up at Stalagluft VI Hydegrug.
RC. Hydekrug which was up in, eh.
GR. Lithuania.
RC. Lithuania which was miles away from where we were shot down or the interrogation centre [interrupted]
GR. What did you think of the Prisoner of War camp?
RC. Well it took us about seven or eight days in cattle trucks to get there for a start. That was a strain for a start, especially if you wanted to go to the toilet and where do you go to the toilet in a, in a cattle truck? Which is, the cattle truck is divided into three portions, one end aircrew, other end aircrew ,the German guards in the middle. If you wanted a wee or anything we made a hole in the corner of the carriage it was all you could do and that was seven days, you thought you would never get off that train. It wasn’t our last trip, oh dear our longest and from then on we [inaudible] to Poland we started off, I think we.
GR. You will have been in the prison camp about nine months.
RC. We had been there in the war, yeah.
GR. And then what was well known as the long march, that is when they started moving all the prisoners from the East to the West because the Russians were advancing.
RC. Well we were [interrupted].
GR. What was life like in the camp, you were there nine months?
RC. It wasn’t too bad in the camps, but it was a well used camp so people who were in there got used to it, to life in there. I wasn’t too bad, we used to get, we had the parties and people doing stage, eh/
GR. Shows.
RC. And that sort of thing.
GR. And did you get your Red Cross food parcels through alright or did they start to dwindle off.
RC. Dwindled off. They were not too bad for a start and then they went sour on us, they brought one food parcel between fourteen men which wasn’t very much and it was a job for anybody that was in charge of the of the camp, the rations.
GR. To determine what you got.
RC. Ah, how many men to a parcel, you get about seven or eight men to a parcel, some were to ten to one parcel.
GR. And was you a smoker or did you use your cigarettes as currency.
RC. We used them for both. I had a pipe, I used to fill my pipe up and light it up, couple of puffs on it, somebody would come [inaudible] have a puff [inaudible] seven or eight men queuing up for it [inaudible] just before, it wasn’t long [slightly mumbled]
GR. How many of the crew ended up on the same camp?
RC. Six of us.
GR. Oh right so you all ended up in the same camp.
RC. Yeah two, me and the engineer we were in the same room and four Canadians were in another one. Yeah but we [inaudible] the easiest way because the Canadians went with the Canadians and we went with the English. And the room I was in was called D9 and it was for general use. The people that read the news, the news readers and the chap who took the news off the radio, were in our room and the camp Commandant, no all the people who had jobs in the camp were in that room, yeah.
GR. Did you have any specific job or eh?
RC. No, no I was just general dogs body [laugh].
GR. And then round about Christmas 1944 or very early ‘45 they moved you out the camps didn’t they?
RC. Yep and [inaudible]
GR. And obviously it was known as the long march because I know some of the men were literally on the road for four to five months, how long?
RC. I was about three weeks.
GR. About three weeks yeah.
RC. That was long enough.
RC. But, eh.
GR. Then I think you all ended up in a place called Fallingbostel.
RC. Fallingbostel yes.
GR. Which was like a transit prisoner of war camp, wasn’t it.
RC. There were Americans there as well, a unit of the Americans. Then from that place they shipped us out in April I think it was. They said you have got to go for a walk now. We said ‘all right do we need anything?’ [inaudible] the more people took with them [inaudible]. The Canadians apparently were the worst, their folks used to send them over ski, skates and all sorts of things, and places to skate in [inaudible].
GR. We are just looking through a very famous book called ‘Handle With Care’ which is what a prisoner did of all the different cartoons and drawings. And is there a picture here of the Canadians going out.
RC. A few cartoons.
GR. Yes, because you all had your own little log book that all your colleagues did drawings in, yeah.
RC. That’s another book.
GR. That’s another book, yeah. So when you started off on the march had the weather deteriorated or was it?
RC. April time.
GR. Not too bad then?
RC. Not too bad.
GR. Not too bad, and did you know the War was coming to an end.
RC. Well we knew more or less everybody was being pushed back [inaudible] It shouldn’t be too long, we just wondered how long, but I forget [inaudible]
GR. I will go back to the other one.
RC. Yeah, We crossed over the River Elbe and that [inaudible] a lone Spitfire cruising round this bridge, and machine gunners, New Zealanders on each end, trying to shoot at it [inaudible] we could watch it from where we were we were sitting , by the bridge, we could watch this aircraft, it was one of the single aircraft around. The machine guns belting away at it like hell, four machine guns belting away like hell, they didn’t get near it [inaudible] plastic eyes [laugh].
GR. And obviously you didn’t want the attention from the Spitfire because you didn’t want it to come down.
RC. No.
GR. No. So you are on the March, I must admit I am just looking through your memoirs and you have highlighted the 19th of April. Was that when you were attacked by the Typhoons?
RC. That’s when we got hit by the Typhoons, yeah, yeah.
GR. Which I know was obviously an incident that has been well documented.
RC. It has, yes.
GR. Can you just tell me a little about what happened that day?
RC. We had just gone through or been dished out with Red Cross parcels, we got initially Red Cross parcels and we had come through the main forest and we had come out where it was a bit clearer and we saw these aircraft flying away from us. I thought, oh they are probably some of ours and didn’t think any more about it. The next thing we know the four Typhoons came belting [inaudible] firing like mad. I flung, well flung myself on the floor, I was in a ditch, if you could call it a ditch. It would probably be a bit wider than this room and it would probably be about that deep.
GR. Dick is saying about twelve inches deep, so not very deep at all.
RC. I had been in this ditch [inaudible] I thought was a tree or something, it should have been a tree but it wasn’t, it must have been weed and it was about fourteen inches high [inaudible]
GR. You were trying to hide behind it.
RC. Didn’t do any good. The chap next to me, he got one through his shoulder, a bullet and the chap that was behind me in his heel, took it in his heel.
GR. So both men next to you were wounded. So not a very nice experience and they obviously didn’t know they mistook you for German soldiers or a column moving up so.
JC. And apparently one of the, what you may call it, never flew again.
GR. I bel, I believe the actual squadron leader who was the, once he found out what had happened he, he, he couldn’t live with it so.
JC. That’s right.
GR. I am just looking in your memoirs and Gordon Wheadon, Ginger, was he killed?
JC. He was our engineer.
GR. So your actual engineer was one of the ones killed.
JC. Yeah he was, he was behind me, I never knew he was in the column behind me somewhere, he must have run out across this field and got killed by bullets. I had to go and find him, I couldn’t find him anywhere [inaudible]
GR. And I think, again, there was about thirty five POWs killed that day and six German guards.
JC. Yeah.
GR. So obviously you carried on, tell me about the end of the war, how did the war finish for you?
JC. Eh well I finished in a very nice place [inaudible] when I came back from Germany.
GR. Sorry, so you are on the long march, you are marching and marching and marching, no, no my fault, did you walk into Americans or did you walk into a British Column or?
JC. We were we’d been marching [inaudible] to a little village and we stopped the night there and we woke up in the morning there were no guards about. I thought that’s funny there is no guards about, and then we looked out and said ‘there are no guards anywhere’ and then a lone American, was it American, I think he was American on a motorbike came along oh [inaudible] Oh he said ‘you are free now’, we said ‘you what.’ Then there was all hell bent trying to find transport to take us back to Luneburg which was about twenty, thirty miles away and some of our boys disappeared and came back. When they came back they brought a bus, a fire engine, horses, motor bikes, anything that was on wheels, anything we commandeered and so we then we had to make our way back down to Luneburg and the roads were in terrible condition or [inaudible] There was hardly room for one vehicle to go through but we just kept going and came down to the River Elbe, over the Elbe pontoon bridge and can’t think of the name of the place.
GR. So at Luneburg were you then flown home or.
JC. Yeah we stayed there, I think, for one night or two nights in Luneburg while they took our particulars down and then we got to, I forgot the sort of aircraft, there were Halifaxes and Lancasters.
GR. What did you fly back in?
JC. I flew back in a Lancaster.
GR. So you flew out over Germany in a Halifax and came back in a Lancaster [laugh]
JC. Yeah and treated [inaudible] when we got back on the airfield WAAFs and airmen everywhere, greeting, not that we wanted anything straight away [inaudible] [laugh].
GR. And I think by the end of the war there was something like ten and a half thousand RAF Bomber Command veterans exactly like yourself being flown back home.
GR. Did you stay in the RAF long or were you demobbed.
RC. I still had about ten months to go and I went to, I went to see a squadron leader, he said [inaudible] I said ‘yeah, I fancy a ground job now’, ‘oh’ he said ‘there is plenty of ground jobs. First three, pigeon keeper, clerk, what was the other one, there was three of them [inaudible] ‘five or six months to do, I don’t want to do that’. He said ‘what do you want to do?’, I said ‘well the best thing I can do is be a driver’. ‘Ha, everybody wants to be a driver’ so I said ‘ I tell you what put me down for MT driver or nothing’. It didn’t take long for the MT course to come through, I started me holidays initially. The first place I went to, oh I had a, I think I had a month or two months at an MTU, Maintenance Unit, we used to go round various airfields dismantling Spitfires. I was the driver and I had six mechanics came round with me and a corporal, we dismantled aircraft, to scrap and empty petrol out of them.
GR. Had a nice time in Italy.
RC. [inaudible] In a camp in tents for a start, when we went over there and it was beautiful weather and that and a job came up. They wanted three vehicles to go down to Southern Italy to pick up an officers’ equipment whose station was closing down and the equipment clearing out from it. Three, three tonners to go down, our MT Officer at the time was an ex aircrew man and so he said to me do you want a job, there’s you and there’s ‘em, there’s I have forgotten what his name was, two of us ex aircrew, he was ex aircrew the MT Officer, really good chap, ex aircrew. The corporal driver and the corporal knew the way down, knew the way down through Italy, stopping at Rome and [inaudible] Naples and all sorts of places, you name it. So we had three, three tonners and we had three guards in the back and went down there and stopped in Naples and everywhere we could on the way down.
GR. Very good.
JC. And the same on the way back, brilliant time, anyway.
GR. I am sure you deserved it after being in the prison camp for so long.
JC. Yeah.
GR. Did you want to stay in or did you have a choice?
JC. No I wanted to get out, Anyway, yes, came back from the trip down Italy and there wasn’t much else to do so they decided to send us home and they did and I got demobbed at the same time.
GR. I think that was early, early 1947.
JC. Yeah.
GR. And that was the war finished. Right so I am going to switch everything off, that was absolutely wonderful.

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Citation

Gary Rushbrooke, “Interview with Richard Curnock,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 12, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8392.

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