Bunny Currant

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Christopher Frederick Currant
DSO DFC*
Royal Air Force- 2nd Tactical Air Force, 1943-1945. CH12665.jpg
Christopher Currant as Wing Commander with the Second Tactical Air Force circa 1943
Nickname(s) "Bunny"
Born 14 December 1911
Luton, Bedfordshire, England
Died 12 March 2006 (aged 94)
Taunton, Somerset, England
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Years of service 1936–1959
Rank Wing Commander
Commands held No. 501 Squadron RAF
No. 122 Wing RAF, 2nd Tactical Air Force
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross
Order of St. Olav (Norway)
Croix de Guerre Belge (Belgium)

Christopher Frederick Currant, DSO DFC* (14 December 1911 – 12 March 2006), nicknamed "Bunny", was a British RAF fighter ace in the Second World War.[1]

Early life and enlistment in the RAF[edit]

Currant was born on 14 December 1911 in Luton, Bedfordshire. Aged 25 he joined the Royal Air Force in 1936; after qualifying as a pilot he joined No 46 Squadron as a Sergeant pilot and later with No 151 Squadron; he was later commissioned as a pilot officer and began service with 605 squadron at RAF Wick, Caithness on the Wick Bay.

World War II[edit]

In the second week of The Battle of France in May 1940, his squadron was moved down to RAF Hawkinge in Kent; from here the squadron flew sorties in France where enemy aircraft were attacking the retreating British Expeditionary Force. On one early sortie the engine on his Hawker Hurricane failed, forcing him to crash land in a field, breaking his nose[2] and he was forced to make his own way to Calais where he managed to get a lift on board a vessel back to England.

605 squadron was then moved to RAF Drem where it took part in the interception of the famous Luftflotte 5 raid which took place on 15 August. Currant claimed two Heinkel He 111s shot down. The squadron was again moved south again – this time to RAF Croydon and was soon in the midst of the heaviest fighting in September 1940.

Currants tally of enemy aircraft rose steadily and on 15 September alone, he had accounted for 2 Dornier Do 17s, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and damaged another three Do 17s as well as a Heinkel He 111. By the end of 1940 his tally stood at 8 destroyed and 5 shared, and he was awarded the DFC on 8 October 1940 and the Bar to it in the consecutive month.

David Niven and Bunny Currant in The First of the Few (1942)

Currant then had a spell as the chief flying instructor of No. 52 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Debden; this was followed by the command of Spitfire Squadron No. 501 in August 1941. It was at this time that he played himself in the film The First of the Few, which starred David Niven.[3]

He commanded the Spitfires of the Ibsley Wing from June until August 1942. It was at this time that he was also awarded the DSO. At this time he was mainly involved in operations over occupied France and the low countries. He was allowed a break from fighting and undertook a four-month lecturing tour in Eastern America and upon his return he went to 84 Group Control Centre, where he was involved in the allocation of target allocation in support of tactical air operations.

In February 1943 Currant was given the command of 122 Wing of the 2nd Tactical Air Force; he remained here until July 1944 and during this posting he was awarded the Croix de Guerre (Belgian) on 9 April 1943.

Post war[edit]

Currant chose to remain in the RAF after the war and had post-war postings in Washington DC where he was on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and this was followed by a year back in London at the Ministry of Supply. This was followed by a four-year posting to the Royal Norwegian Air Force Staff College – where the Norwegians awarded him the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav. He retired from the RAF in 1959 whereafter he joined an engineering firm in Luton – his employers developed weapons for the RAF. He finally retired in 1974.

Currant was married to Cynthia in 1942 and they had three sons and a daughter.

Honours and awards[edit]

  • 8 October 1940 – Distinguished Flying Cross – Acting Flight Lieutenant Christopher Frederick Currant (43367).[4]

    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.

  • 15 November 1940 – Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross – Acting Flight Lieutenant Christopher Frederick Currant, D.F.C. (43367), No. 605 Squadron.[5]

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

  • 7 July 1942 – Distinguished Service Order – Acting Squadron Leader Christopher Frederick Currant, D.F.C. (43367), No.501 Squadron.[6][7]

    Squadron Leader Currant is a most courageous pilot and 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 with renewed vigour. Squadron Leader Currant has destroyed at least 14 and damaged many more enemy aircraft.

  • 9 April 1943 – Croix de Guerre Belge – Conferred by the Belgian government to Acting Wing Commander Christopher Frederick Currant, D.S.O., D.F.C. (43367).[8]
  • 14 January 1944 – Mentioned in Dispatches by Air Officers Commanding-in-Chief – Wing Commander C.F. Currant, D.S.O., D.F.C. (43367) (Acting).[9]
  • 1 January 1945 – Mentioned in Dispatches by Air Officers Commanding-in-Chief – Wing Commander C.F. Currant, D.S.O., D.F.C. (43367) (Acting).[10]
  • 30 September 1960 – Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav[11]

    The Queen has been pleased to give and grant unto Wing Commander Christopher Frederick Currant, D.S.O., D.F.C., Royal Air Force (Retired), Her Majesty's Royal Licence and authority to wear the decoration of Chevalier (First Class) of the Order of St. Olav, which has been conferred upon him by His Majesty the King of Norway, in recognition of valuable services rendered by him as an adviser at the Royal Norwegian Air Force Staff College.


Dso-ribbon.png UK DFC w bar BAR.svg BEL Croix de Guerre 1944 ribbon.svg 39-45 Star w BoB clasp BAR.svg

Air Crew Europe BAR.svg Defence Medal BAR.svg War Medal 39-45 BAR MID.png St. Olavs Orden stripe.svg

Dso-ribbon.png Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 1942
UK DFC w bar BAR.svg Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) 1940 with Bar 1940
BEL Croix de Guerre 1944 ribbon.svg Croix de guerre (Belgium) 1943
39-45 Star w BoB clasp BAR.svg War Medal 1939–1945 with Battle of Britain Clasp
Air Crew Europe BAR.svg Air Crew Europe Star
Defence Medal BAR.svg Defence Medal
War Medal 39-45 BAR MID.png War Medal 1939–1945 with palm for Mentioned in Dispatches
St. Olavs Orden stripe.svg Order of St. Olav 1960

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Wing Commander 'Bunny' Currant". The Daily Telegraph. 20 March 2006. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Piper 1997, p. 57.
  3. ^ Watkins and Listemann 2007, p. 32.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34964. p. 5900. 8 October 1940. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34993. p. 6569. 15 November 1940. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35621. p. 2979. 7 July 1942. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  7. ^ Watkins and Listemann 2007, p. 87.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35973. p. 1636. 9 April 1943. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36329. p. 287. 11 January 1944. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36866. p. 63. 1 January 1945. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42156. p. 6616. 30 September 1960. Retrieved 4 December 2008.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Piper, Ian. We Never Slept: the Story of 605 County of Warwick Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 1926–1957. Kingsbury, Tamworth, Staffordshire, UK: Ian Piper, 1996 (reprinted in 1997). ISBN 0-9529516-0-6.
  • Watkins, David and Phil Listeman. No. 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, 1939–1945: Hurricane, Spitfire, Tempest. France: Phil Listemann Publisher, 2007. ISBN 2-9526381-3-6.
  • Obituary – The Times 10 April 2006.

External links[edit]