The D.S.O., D.F.C. and bar group of nine to Wing Commander C.F.Currant, Royal Air Force,
Lot 105
The D.S.O., D.F.C. and bar group of nine to Wing Commander C.F.Currant, Royal Air Force,
Sold for £84,450 (US$ 131,200) inc. premium

Lot Details
The D.S.O., D.F.C. and bar group of nine to Wing Commander C.F.Currant, Royal Air Force,
Distinguished Service Order, G.VI.R., dated 1942 on the reverse; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., dated 1940 with second award bar, dated 1940; 1939-1945 Star with Battle of Britain bar; Air Crew Europe Star with France and Germany bar; Defence Medal; War Medal with MID Oakleaf; Coronation 1953; Belgium, Croix de Guerre with palme; Norway, Order of St.Olav, Chevalier's breast badge in silver-gilt and enamel. The first eight mounted as worn. Generally very fine or better. (Lot)

Footnotes

  • D.S.O. London Gazette 7.7.1942.

    Squadron Leader Currant is a most courageous pilot and a brilliant leader. His untiring efforts and outstanding ability have been reflected in the splendid work accomplished by the squadron which he commands. One day in March, 1942, he was wounded in the head during a sortie. Despite this, he flew his aircraft safely back to base. Following a short enforced rest, he returned to operational flying with renewed vigour. Squadron Leader Currant has destroyed at least 14 and damaged many more enemy aircraft.

    D.F.C. London Gazette 8.10.1940.

    This officer has led his flight with great skill and courage in air combats in the defence of London. He has destroyed seven enemy aircraft and damaged a number of others. His splendid example and fine fighting spirit have inspired the other pilots in his flight.

    Bar to the D.F.C. London Gazette 15.11.1940.

    Since September, 1940, this officer has personaly damaged six enemy aircraft and damaged several others, bringing his total to thirteen. He has led his flight, and on occasions his squadron, with great success, and shows a sound knowledge of tactics against the enemy.

    M.I.D. London Gazette 14.1.1944; 1.1.1945.

    Belgian Croix de Guerre London Gazette 9.4.1943.

    As Officer Commanding a Squadron containing a number of Belgian pilots, he has shewn outstanding bravery and tenacity. He led the squadron brilliantly in many offensive operations over enemy occupied territory and has never ceased to be an inspiration to them by his keenness for combat of which he is so admirable a master.

    Norway Order of St.Olav London Gazette 30.9.1960


    This lot comes with the following items:


    2 Log Books covering the periods from April 1937 to May 1958, these being Log Books 2 and 3, the one covering flights prior to April 1937 is absent.
    Pilot's Licence from May 1936.
    Original Warrant for Pilot Officer dated 17.5.1940
    Original Warrant for the D.S.O.
    Certificate for Wear of the Order of St.Olav, Chevalier (First Class), with accompanying letters (2).
    Copies of the Citations for DSO, DFC and Bar to DFC, and copies of London Gazette MID entries
    Certificate for the Order of St.Olav, dated 4.8.1960.
    Certificate for the Belgian Croix de Guerre dated 12.10.1942, Citation for the Belgian Croix de Guerre and translation for the citation.
    Typed transcript of his Certificate of Service.
    Colour photocopies of his Record of Service
    Certified statement of Service.
    Various copied combat reports.
    Letters to his parents dated 23.5.1940 and 10.3.1942, and a copy of a letter he wrotwe on 22.1.1992.
    War Record and two obituaries from The Times and Daily Telegraph.

    Various photographs as follows:

    Photo of training crews at North Weald in August 1937, taken by Planet News Ltd
    Copy phot of the visit to North Weald 1937 by the Sec State for Air.
    501 Squadron at RAF Ibsley 1941, annotated on the back "Only 1 of these pilots survived apart from myself. These are Belgians, Czechs, Australian, Canadian and a Pole plus a few Free-English".
    501 Squadron at RAF Ibsley 1941, annotated on the back "I think that there are only 6 British in this photo. The rest are Belgian, Czech, New Zealand. Fg Offr Newbury is on top of spitfire with his dog. Vic Ekins on my right and on his right Palmer-Tomkinson, of the 20 Pilots, ten are non-commissioned pilots".
    Photo at RAF Warmwell 1941 where two Spitfires have pranged each other one being Currant's the other Flight Lieutenant V.Ekins.
    Copy photo of him in his Spifire dated August 1943 at Luton airport, annotated "Visit to see Penny on her First Birthday".
    2 photographs of a visit by HRH Duke of Edinburgh to RAF Wattisham c.1955.
    3 copy stills from First of the Few, plus photocopied still from the film.
    Portrait with narrative. Postcard of flying Spitfire.

    Wing Commander Christopher Frederick Currant "Bunny" was born on 14th December 1911 at Luton, he was educated at Rydal School. He joined the Royal Air Force on 27.1.1936. He served with 46 and 151 Squadrons flying Gauntlet fighters. He subsequently converted to Hurricanes in January 1939. His first wartime experience was watching 2 Hurricanes being shot down by a Spifire on the 6th September 1939 near Ipswich. Throughtout January-March 1940 he carried out numerous convoy patrols and survived an engine failure on the 15th March where he landed at North Weald. He joined 605 Squadron (County of Warwick) at Wick and was commissioned on 1st April 1940. On the 10th April he intercepted and attacked an He.111 which crashed in the sea, he himself crash landed at Wick later that night. The remainder of that month saw him carrying out many patrols. At the end of May he flew down to Hawkinge and carried out patrols at Calais, Boulogne and on the 23rd at Arras, he force landed at Fruges where he sustained a broken nose and a black eye, having previously shot down a Heinkel, he attacked 2 more and damaged 1. He hitchiked to Calais and got to Hawkinge at 10pm and to hospital in Folkestone.
    He resumed flying on the 10th June at Drem, throughout this time and through July he carried out many patrols and exercises. August 1940 saw much activity with the 15th seeing his squadron intercept 80 He.111 of which he shot down 2 and damaged a further 2. He was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant on 5.9.1940. His log book entries covering the Battle of Britain include the following extracts.

    08.9.1940 Engaged 50 Bombers, 100 Fighters. Damaged Me109 Dornier 215.
    09.9.1940 Engaged 50 Me109, 1 Me110. Destroyed Me109. Me110 Both shared.
    11.9.1940 Engaged 40 He111, 20 Me110, 50 Me109, Destoyed He111, Damaged 4 Heinkel 111.
    12.9.1940 Engaged Dornier 215. Destroyed 8 mls SW Cape Griz-Nez.
    13.9.1940 No contact made E/A turning back
    14.9.1940 No contact made E/A turning back
    14.9.1940 No contact made 200 E/A fighters seen also Dog -Fight 20000'
    15.9.1940 Engaged 30 Do17's. Destroyed 2 Do17's Damaged 1 Do17.
    Hit in port m/plane-could not turn left landed OK.
    15.9.1940 Engaged 15 Do215's & Do17's. Damaged 1 Do17 Destroyed 1 Do17.
    Engaged 18 Me111's. Damaged 1 He111. Destroyed 1 Me109.
    16.9.1940 Attacked Me109 from 18000' to sea-level result not known.
    27.9.1940 Intercepted 12 Me110's over Kenley. Destroyed 1 Me110 in flames.
    27.9.1940 Intercepted 9 Me109's over Canterbury. Damaged 1 Me109.
    27.9.1940 Intercepted 7 Ju88's. Destroyed 2 Ju88's Probable 1 Ju88 (all shared).
    28.9.1940 Intercepted 12 Me109. Destroyed 1 Me 109.
    04.10.1940 Intercepted 1 Ju88. Destroyed in sea 5mls S of Dungeness (Red 2 shared).
    08.10.1940 Intercepted 1 Ju88. Shot down 5 mls E of Gatwick (shared)
    14.10.1940 Intercepted 40-50 Me109. Damaged 2 in dog-fight 25,000ft Jock killed.
    22.10.1940 Jumped by snappers spun out just in time.
    02.11.1940 Me109's chased out to sea.
    15.11.1940 Me 109's chased
    15.11.1940 Jumped 9 Me 109's. Destroyed 1 Me 109
    24.11.1940 Intercepted 18 Me109's chased out to sea Sgt Pettit destroyed one.
    01.12.1940 Chased 109's F/O Parrot & Sgt Howes shot down, both OK
    01.12.1940 Chased 109's F/Lt Ingle F/O Passy Shot Down both OK Two 109's destroyed by F/O Hayter
    & myself

    At the end of February 1941 he transferred to 52 O.T.U. at Debden as an Instructor and was promoted to Acting Squadron Leader on 24.3.1941, and promoted to Flight Lieutenant (W) on 23.6.1941. He was promoted to Command 501 Squadron at Ibsley on 14.8.1941. At Ibsley he carried out various patrols in the Cherbourg area. During September 1941 he played himself in the film "First of the Few" where he was cast as Squadron commander "Hunter Leader", starring with David Niven and Leslie Howard.

    His entries in his log book contine as follows:

    08.09.1941 Escort to Blenheims & Whirlwinds which attacked a barge convoy between Sark and Guernsey.
    20.09.1940 Close escort to Blenheim's at 12000ft. Bombed Cherbourg Docks.
    29.09.1940 Crazy Landing for Film. "First of the Few" Directed by Leslie Howard.
    02.10.1941 Flew with Heinkel 111 for Camera plane
    09.10.1941 Intercepted 1 Ju88. Shot down into sea off Le Hague.
    13.10.1941 5 Wing Sweep 6 Blenheims St.Omer. 109's seen from Top Cover.
    15.10.1941 501 on high cover to 12 Blenheims. Bombed Le Havre Docks.
    17.10.1941 Close escort to Blenheims Sweep to Le Havre. Nothing seen.
    08.10.1941 Dog fights Alderney La Hague 1 Me109 damaged 1. no claim.
    11.11.1941 Escort Hurricane Bombers to St.Saens. Shot up Distillery Wireless Station and Pylons.
    15.11.1941 Patrol off Pt Barfleur for 20 mins at 800ft.
    18.12.1941 Escort to 18 Stirling's 18 Halifax 18 Manchesters.
    30.12.1941 Escort to 14 Halifax. Terrific Flak.
    09.03.1942 Engaged 4 FW190's. 1 FW190 Probable. Own aircraft hit, also self hit in head by foreign
    metal. Landed Lympne aircraft overturned taken to Folkestone hospital Foreign metal
    removed. Transferred to RAF Hospital rehabilitation unit The Palace Hotel Torquay about
    23 March.

    He returned to the Squadron and recommenced flying on the 3rd April.

    17.04.1942 1 Me109(F) Probable shared W/C Gleed DFC.
    17.04.1942 Medium Cover to 12 Bostons. 1 Shot Down by 109 into Sea. 1 Me109 destroyed by Gleed.
    20.04.1942 Medium cover to 6 Hurri-Bombers to Maupentus E/A seen.
    22.04.1942 5 Sqdns, 6 Hurri-Bombrs to Maupentus no E/A/ seen.
    25.04.1942 1 Boston 1 Spit 118 shot down by flak

    Throughout May and June 1942 he carried out various fighter sweeps, escort cover to Bostons and Hurri-Bombers.

    He was promoted to Acting Wing Commander on 23.6.1942 and was awarded the D.S.O. on the 24.6.1942 he was put in command of RAF Ibsley. On August 24th he was put in command of RAF Zeals in Wiltshire with 122 A.F.H.Q.. He was promoted to Squadron Leader (War Subs) with effect 23.9.1942. On 24.1.1944 he was forced to crash land due to undercarriage hydraulic failure.

    Later in 1944 he was sent to the USA with Wing Commander P.J.Simpson to undertake a lecture tour of the Eastern States for four months. On his return he went to the 84 Group Contol Centre in Holland, allocating targets until the end of the war. Returning to the UK he attended the RAF Staff College and then went on the directing staff of the Officers Advanced Training School until 1948. A posting to Washington for three years at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff followed, and he then attended the Joint Services Staff College.

    In 1951 he became Wing Commander Administration at RAF Wattisham until 1953, when he spent a year at the Ministry of Supply in London dealing with guided missiles. In 1954 he was posted to Norway as British Adviser at the RNOAF Staff College for three years. He was retained by the Norwegians for a further year, and was awarded the Order of St.Olav for his service. Returning to the UK he retired from the RAF on 11th January 1959. He then joined Hunting Engineering in 1960, undertaking research and development work on weapons for the RAF. He finally retired in 1976. He gave great support to local Air Training Corps squadrons and to the RAF Association, and was a supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. He was a keen sportsman and umpired both hockey matches as well as tennis matches at Wimbledon. The remains of one of the Hurricanes he flew were found in India, this was restored and was flown at his Memorial Service in salute. He died on 12th March 2006.

    The following are letters he wrote to his parents on the 23rd May 1940 and Tuesday 10th March 1942 respectively, clearly giving a first hand account of his actions:

    Written from the Officers Ward Military Hospital Showncliffe, Kent.

    Dear Mother & Father & all, Heigh ho! Heigh ho! we do get about these days don't we? My little story is long but amusing. You must excuse the writing, I can only just see what I'm doing because of a black eye - what a beauty and a busted nose, apart from that I'm as fit as can be. I hope to be out again in a couple of days. Yesterday morning we did an early morning patrol over Northern France and the Channel - we saw plenty of activity in various forms and then all returned intact. At 11AM we took off again twelve of us and we made for Arras. Unfortunately before we got there we rather lost each other in cloud layers and only five of us arrived together over Arras. Here we were subjected to very accurate AA Fine - pretty to watch but too close for a quiet snooze so I and another lad nipped into some cloud for protection. When we came out the other three had disappeared so had the AA. bursts much to our relief. Then I met three Heinkel Bombers or they met me anyhow they were in the process of bombing - funnily all the bombs fell in a field in open country but it annoyed me to see them and so I waded into them and knocked one down in 5 seconds and then played "catch me - hit me" with the other two. I hit the oil tank of one brute but he had the last laugh as his oil smothered my aircraft. I couldn't see a thing and my aircraft was rather shot about now and in due course the engine refused to play anymore. Most irritating - no blue pencil engine - no vision forward and 6,000 feet over the German lines. I headed North gliding down - turning the clouds black amnd blue with ----?. By now streams of steam from a bust glycol tank and volumes of black smoke from my oil tank were belching out, and I must have looked a pretty sight. I hit the gound on my tummy - the aircraft's belly is more precise and then either my face hit the gun-sights or the gun-sights hit me and there I was all alone by my little self in the middle of a ploughed field - somewhere in France. Such a nice new Hurricane - and with great glee I took out a box of matches - got at the petrol tank, sprinkled literally and then lit same and retired immediately. A beutiful blaze and the dear old thing had gone.

    I gathered up my gear and walked across the field to a cottage where I met a number of French peasants. They were terribly kind and patched me up and poured large quantities of rum and wine down me. After about an hour in this cottage I set off determined to get to the coast and England if it took me years.

    Before leaving I asked for a dictionary which they kindly gave me and with this and my gear I was on my way. I was carrying my helmet, sidcot, life-jacket and parachute and thus burdened and bloody I walked 5 miles into a small hamlet. Stopped here for 10 minutes for another sup of rum - then I proceeded to stop every refugee car I could and eventally got a lift - as far as St Omer. Thousands of refugees thronged all the roads, some going North and some South. All stared at me and crowded round and jabbered continually. They were all emphatic that the Germans were just over the hedge a few fields away, full of rumour and unfounded facts - all absolutely untrue.

    The French people lose all dignity and resource in an emergency panic easily and whine continually. I have no time for them at all - they've no guts - excellent when their troops are advancing but abject cowars in retreat. It was most depressing. At St.Omer I scrounged another lift - town empty and recently bombed - and so on to Calais - buildings here still burning from bombing that morning. My luck was in as a boat was just leaving for Dover. At 9pm I walked into the Mess at Hawkinge after ten hours of varied fortunes - very tired but with tail up. I have had an anaesthetic and the operation on my fractured nose - it should be nearly straight by now.

    I shall be out of here this Saturday and hope to set some leave and shall see you all then.

    My love to all

    Christopher.



    Tues. Mar 10th. 1942.

    Dear Mother and Father,

    Shades of May 1940 waft by with the breeze from my window only this time it's the back of my face and not the front - Folkestone seems to have small reaction for me but not I for Folkestone (I don't think that's sense).

    History does repeat itself, but not in all details - I wouldn't be in bed writing this to you. Again I got mixed up with the filthy Hun only this time, it was 4 to 1 - in their favour and they were fighters and not unfortunately fat-lazy bombers.

    I was roughly over the same spot as before - Furges near St-Pol, and where angels fear to tread - I stepped in - and ------ out again with 3 very angry germans after my blood - they nearly got it too but just not quite, and I'll bet they're cursing themselves now. They certainlly hit me and the aircraft - funny what an awful row metal makes when it goes into all the wrong places. But my skull was tougher than their metal and although it went in the back of my head, it met my skull and bounced off and came out again.

    I pushed everuything forward and spent the next five minutes hurling myself down to the French fields in the craziest way I know with those three persistent Huns pouring lead at me the whole time - I shot over the French sand dunes near Boich at 0 feet at some fantastic speed opened and those three little Huns gave it up as a bad job and flew away.

    The first time I've even said a little prayer at 450 miles per hour but speed doesn't have anything to do with it really - I throttled back and flew across the calm bluish sea and took careful stock. Surprising how wet I was and it wasn't all sweat I found. I turned my oxygen full-on in the hopes that at least I'd remain conscious until I'd surfedthat water - at last Rye loomed up and another little prayer whispered its way up to the Heavens. I was beginning to feel fairly groggy by now so searched quickly for Lympne which I found at the second attempt.

    I put my wheels down, flaps down, seat down, tigtened my straps hand back and motored gently in to land. I touched down quite softly and then the thing, I was half expecting and half-dreading occurred - the aircraft was so shot-up that the undercarriage collapsed. down went the nose and Spitfire and self did a perfect somersault - I ducked instinctively and found myself upside down on the cool grass of England - all very pleasant but I couldn't get out and again a prayer whispered its way out but a much bigger one this time with not a little fear that the wretched thing would catch fire. After what seemed ages some exhausted airmen got me out - and I think we all said - "Thank God".

    I know I said "good show chaps" and collapsed on to a stretcher. They humped me into the sick bay and a young F/O Doctor made me comfortable with bags of rugs and hot tea - T lay there about 40 minutes, wondering how bad my wound was and hoping like hell that I was alright. Doc kept taking my pulse and told me I was fine and of course I didn't believe him and of course I was alright really as it happened. Another ambulance drove me to hospital and they whisked me into the theatre - gave me a real anaesthetic and then really got down to brass tacks. The surgeon spent an hour mucking about - I didn't pass out, felt perfectly, but it's wonderful what a nurses hand can do - bless them.

    And here I am as large as life half sitting up and feeling fit except for a bit of a throb.

    I don't know how long I shall remain here, not long I hope. My love and thoughts to all,

    Christopher.
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