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Samuel Walter Curry was born in Rothbury, Northumberland about November 1920. He was the second of at least four sons born to Walter Jocelyn Curry and his wife Annie Emma (nee Payne). Sometime after 1929, the family moved from Hexham to Glenridding where his father worked at the Greenside mine. The family lived at Wetside Glenridding. We do not know if he attended Patterdale School but he did go on to attend Penrith Grammar School.
Sam Curry joined the RAF in January 1937 and trained at RAF Cranwell as a wireless operator, passing out in May 1937, before joining 224 Squadron at Boscombe Down. He went home on leave to Glenridding at some point when the photo shown below was taken, showing Sam with his girlfriend, Ann, younger brother Jack and his mother Annie.
Initially his Squadron was equipped with Avro Ansons but these aircraft were replaced with Lockheed Hudsons in May 1939 and the squadron became operational with the new aircraft in August 1939. It then moved to its war station at RAF Leuchars in Scotland and began to fly patrols over the North Sea looking for German ships as well as providing convoy escorts. Sam volunteered as an an aerial gunner, presumably sitting inside the dome that can be seen in the photograph below.
On the 8th October 1939, a Hudson from the squadron reported sighting a German force consisting of a battleship, a cruiser and four destroyers off the south-
On the 20th July 1940 Sam wrote home to his parents in Glenridding. His letter, shown below, gives a fascinating insight into life at RAF Leuchars. He tells of how he had been out on air patrol the previous morning, leaving at 04:25 -
“As soon as we appeared we got a dose of AA fire from his gun, so we dropped our “eggs” first to keep the kettle boiling. Three 250lb bombs dropped within 20 yards of the side so although we didn’t see any damage its quite possible that a plate was pushed in. We didn’t wait for results because there are a few Jerry fighter squadrons there and the pilot remembered he was hungry. I was gunner which was probably another reason
The AA fire looked pretty queer. The first I saw of it was a shower of three bursting about fifty yards away on one side. I only saw it out of the corner of my eye and I thought they were fighters coming down through the clouds. I brought my guns round before I really saw it and by that time the sky was covered with little black patches so I brought the guns back to rest while the pilot put the machine into dive for the bombing attack.
“Well that’s all there is of that one, nothing else happened during our five hours out there. All the way back I was wondering what sort of panic there was on shore. I had visions of millions of ME’s roaring into the air after one wretched little Hudson who had wandered in and wandered out again. I can just imagine what we’d be called by the blokes who had to get out of bed because of us.
Well Middi (his pilot) is asleep now and I’ll have to go to bed just in case we’re on again tomorrow. I don’t want to be late again, so Cheerio for now and please send on Jack’s address and Jack’s result as soon as you can. Cheerio.
This was to be Sam’s last letter home. The following day, on the 21st July 1940, several Hudsons, each with it's crew of four, left RAF Leuchars to patrol the sea area between Norway and Denmark, known as the Skaggerak. The German support boat Nordmark was spotted and attacked. During the attack, the Hudson with Sgt. Sam Curry on board was hit and although not seen to crash, it was last seen disappearing into the clouds. Initially the crew were reported as missing, giving some hope to his family, however, in early August his parents received the following letter from the Air Ministry:
"It is with regret that we write to say that as all our efforts to trace your son have failed, all hope must be abandoned that he is alive"
Sergeant Samuel Walter Curry is remembered and commemorated on The Patterdale War Memorial, The Runnymede Memorial, Surrey (Panel 13), and the Roll of Honour in the Battle of Britain Chapel in Westminster Abbey. He is also remembered on his parents gravestone in Patterdale Churchyard, and on a memorial at his old school in Penrith, Queens Elizabeths Grammar School (see image at the bottom of the page).
His parents continued to live in Glenridding and were living at Wet Side, Glenridding, when Walter died, aged 67, in November 1959 and when Annie died, aged 93, in December 1984.
Sam had at least three brothers, the eldest George P Curry was born in Rothbury around August 1919. Thomas A Curry was born in Hexham around November 1926, and the youngest, Jack P Curry was born in Hexham around November 1928. We are very grateful to his family for sharing his last letter and their family letters with us, especially his niece Mrs Ann Hunter and his nephew Ian Curry.
Sergeant Samuel (Sam) Walter Curry
C Flight, 224 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Born November 1920, Rothbury, Northumberland,
Died Saturday 21st July 1940, Skaggerak Strait (Age 19)
Son of Walter Jocelyn and Annie Emma (nee Payne) Curry of Wetside Glenridding
Samuel's death as reported in the Herald
A Hudson Mk1 of 224 Squadron.
Inscription to Samuel on his parents grave in Patterdale
Sam’s last letter home to his parents, written on July 20th 1940, the day before he died. Please click the image to see a full sized version
The picture to the left was taken in the Dale when Sam was at home on leave and shows him with his girlfriend Ann, his younger brother Jack and his mother Annie. The picture to the right shows Sam’s parents Annie and Walter Curry, and picture in the middle is of Sam in uniform,
We are immensely grateful to Sam’s niece Mrs Ann Hunter (nee Curry) for sharing these wonderful family mementos with us. The image below shows the memorial to all those ex-