View Full Version : No.194 Squadron Query

17th August 2009, 03:58
Seeing information from anyone who has access to the ORB of No.194 or to a history of that unit, re Joseph Robert Curtis, RCAF. Although awarded an AFC (1 January 1946) while in No.435 Squadron, I am more interested in his service with No.194 Squadron (2 December 1942 to April 1943 when it was interupted by a crash) and 8 January 1944 to 23 May 1944 (possibly beyond).

While any details of his flying with No.194 would be welcomed, I am especially interested in an event described in an assessment drafted at Chaklala and dated 20 August 1944. It stated he had flown 1,550 hours, 450 in previous six months in particular noted, "A very keen and capable officer with flying capabilities above the average. Did very good transport and supply work whilst with the squadron. Proved himself a capable leader in a time of crisis. When over the Arakan with full load his port engine was rendered unserviceable by enemy action. He jettisoned a small proportion of his load, climbed back over the mountains and returned safely to base." (W/C H.C. Chisholm).

The date and particulars of that mission when his "port engine was rendered unserviceable by enemy action" would make my day.

17th August 2009, 05:38
Hi Hugh,

Re Joe Curtis:-

"At 7.05 am on the 9th (April,1944), we took off for Palel, the all-weather strip which the Japs were keen to capture. We flew via Silchar with a load of bombs. At Palel we were to assist in the evacuation of a Hurricane squadron. We loaded up C-Charlie with 22 personnel and equipment while the Hurricanes were out bombing and strafing the enemy in the surrounding hills. We proceeded on a normal take-off when at the point of becoming airborne we encountered a terrifying gusty cross wind which suddenly blew across the valley. As one wing dipped dangerously, our pilot, Joe Curtis, with great presence of mind, thumped the throttles back, injuring his wrist. He abandoned the take-off and with great skill managed to level the Dak as we bounced heavily back onto the runway. The oleo legs collapsed - I think we hit a ditch - and I opened the door leading from the wireless cabin and called to the passengers to disembark calmly. This they did in an orderly way. We all sat on the ground, pretty dazed, the squadron groundcrews and ourselves. My crew were greatly upset at the state of beloved C-Charlie which was a write-off. A Dakota that had served us so wonderfully well on most of our operation trips into Burma. It was like losing a home, for we had worked many hours aboard her, and had so many 40 winks beneath her wings between ops. We suddenly felt insecure and lost".
(Recounted by, Flying Officer D.O.Williams, 194 Squadron)

APPENDIX C - RAF Losses during the Siege of Imphal and Kohima, March-June 1944.

Date: 9 April (1944)
Sqn: 194
Aircraft: Dakota
A/C Serial: - 'C'.
Category: Written Off
Pilot/Crew: F/O J Curtis and crew. Safe.
Cause of loss: Crashed on take-off.

The Air Battle of Imphal.
A. p.71
B. p.208

There is a brief mention of this incident in Shores' 'Air War for Burma', p.203. No crew details or aircraft serial mentioned.

Dakota, posibly: c/n.9678 42-23816 Delivered 11 June 1943. - FD911 RAF 27 June 1943 - India 194 Sqn 11 August 1943.

Crashed 09 April, 1944 Palel, India.

See:The Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors.
Gradidge,J M G.
Tonbridge:Air Britain(Historians),1984.

John Rawlings' 'Coastal,Support and Special Squadrons" (p.127), confirms Dakota FD911 of 194 Sqn, coded 'C'.


17th August 2009, 06:02
Hello again, Hugh,

In addition to my earlier posting on Joe Curtis:-

On the 16th (February 1944), 31 Squadron flew five sorties during the afternoon while 194 Squadron made eleven day and nine night drops. The following day, 31 flew four night and two day sorties, 194 making four day and 10 night flights. Often ths Daks faced fierce ground fire and on the 17th, Flying Officer Joe Curtis's aircraft was slightly damaged in the port engine and had to return on one motor.

Curtis, and his crew - Jerry Walsh, navigator; Doug Williams and Jimmy Howe, WOP/AGs, were on their third or fourth supply runs and could actually hear the ground fire above the roar of the Dak's engines. Then black smoke was streaming past the loading door as the port engine was hit. They were very low, trees just flashing by beneath them and a crash landing seemed inevitable. A Half-loaded Dak, low down and on one engine, needed all the flying skill of Joe Curtis to keep from hitting the jungle greenery, but he managed it, much to his crew's intense relief.

While Jerry Walsh gave his pilot a course for base, Williams and Howe jettisoned the rest of the cargo out the door. A Hurricane pilot flying cover above the drop zone, reported the Dakota going down smoking and 'believed crashed'. But Curtis got his machine home two hours later, landing safely at Agartala.

Spitfires Over the Arakan.


17th August 2009, 13:37
Wonderful ! Many thanks ! Just what the doctor ordered !


17th August 2009, 16:02

You mention that Joe Curtis' service with No.194 Squadron, was interrupted by a crash in April 1943. Here is little on that incident:-

No.194 Sqn.
Hudson VI FK411

Stalled on take-off Palam, India.

Crew (In alpha order, apologies)

136726 P/O Frederick James ANDREW Injured?
AUS416016 F/Sgt Ansell Edward BRITTEN-JONES RAAF + (CWGC 15-4-1943)
1265761 F/Sgt (Nav./B.) Arthur BROWN RAFVR + (CWGC 15-4-43)
CAN J/16520 P/O Joseph Robert CURTIS RCAF Injured
AUS405582 Sgt Francis Thomas Joseph de Warren GLOSTER RAAF Injured
141858 P/O Edward Leonard HERRING Injured?

All the above needs verification.


17th August 2009, 16:19
The notes that I took from the Curtis file confirm Brown as a fatality in this crash, viz:

"He (Curtis) was injured while a passenger in Hudson FK411, No.194 Squadron, which crashed at Palem, 16 April 1943. Pilot was Aus 416016 Sergeant A.E. Britten-Hughes (RAAF, killed); also killed was 1265761 Sergeant A. Brown. Also injured were 136726 P/O F.J. Andrew, 141858 P/O E.L. Herring, and Aus 405582 Sergeant F. Gloster. Possible engine failure. Aircraft had just taken off and undercarriage nearly retracted when machine banked into wind, lost height and crashed, bursting into flames."

17th August 2009, 16:47

I found a second crew list which included Brown, and amended my list before seeing your later posting.

The following might be of interest:

No.194 Squadron - 'The Friendly Firm'.

The Colombo mail service was commenced on December 5 (1942) with Hudson FK488 piloted by P/O Mellsop with ten passengers. The same day Hudson Mk VI EW946 with Sgt Curtis and crew departed for the Middle East - Cairo and return - with 830 lb freight and ten passengers.

Presumably, your Joseph Curtis.

The Dakota:A History of the Douglas Dakota in RAF and RCAF Service.
Pearcy,Arthur Jnr.
London:Ian Allan,1972.

In the above ref there is also mention of the accidents posted earlier. Pearcy qoutes a different date for the incident on 17-2-44. Can post his version if required.


17th August 2009, 18:36
Your Sergeant Curtis is almost certainly my Joseph Robert Curtis, who was not commissioned until 1 January 1943. Other details of his adventures are welcome. He was what in RCAF history is called "The Lost Legion" - the thousands of RCAF personnel who, whilst overseas, served part or all of their operational careers in RAF units (as distinct from RCAF ones) and whose records can never be adequately untangled from RAF records to tell their full stories (though one can try with a few).

17th August 2009, 19:23

Here is Arthur Pearcy's version of the events of Feb 14/Feb 17, whatever.

No.194 became operational with the Allied Troop Carrier Command under Brig Gen William D Old, US Army Air Force, on January 1, 1944. Throughout the next two months the airborne forces exercises continued and included 'Goldcrest' and 'Pheasant'. On February 4 the squadron was instructed to move to Comilla and five days later this was complete. Supply drops were carried out in the Arakan area at night with ten Dakotas. On February 14, Dakota Mk I FD911 "C" piloted by Flg Off Carter [sic] and with D O Williams as crew member, encountered light enemy ground fire whilst operating over the dropping zone. A bullet pierced the propeller dome of the port engine allowing egress of oil making it necessary to cut the engine. The crew despatched the load of vital supplies into the jungle approximately ten miles from the dropping zone. The Dakota pilot managed to maintain height and even increased it sufficiently to cross the Chin Hills and back to the Assam base at Agartala. FD911 had been flying on one engine for nearly two hours. Unfortunately FD911 crashed in a very severe gusty cross wind taking-off from Palel airfield on April 9, 1944, whilst evacuating personnel of a Hawker Hurricane squadron from the front line.

The Dakota/Pearcy p.202.

Hard to tell who's right, Pearcy, or Franks, without recourse to the ORB.

Errol hasn't noticed the mention of Mellsop (RNZAF) yet. He will!

No further mention of Curtis in the above ref.


Errol Martyn
17th August 2009, 22:50
Errol hasn't noticed the mention of Mellsop (RNZAF) yet. He will!



Now noticed!
Can post bio/fate info here if anyone interested.