On this day in 1944, Victor ‘Vic’ Selwyn Curd (1916-1944), a New Zealand-born pilot of great ability, was killed in a flying accident in Scotland during the Second World War.
Victor, a 28-year-old lieutenant, and his passenger, Lt John Jefford, died on July 4, 1944 when their Avenger torpedo bomber crashed in bad weather into Black Loch Hill, a mountain summit in the Lammermuir-Dunbar to River Tweed region in East Lothian.
His best friend, pilot Graham Finlayson told Victor’s mother in a letter that he lived for flying because his heart was so much in it’.
He wrote: ‘So far as I can gather, he crashed in bad weather, when visibility was also nil, upon a mountainside.
‘As a pilot he was very good, cautious when things were hard going and a fearless crazy young pilot like the rest of us when everything was swell and life up in the air so grand.
‘I can’t understand why he should crash … unless the engine failed or one of those dangerous mountains suddenly popped up when it shouldn’t have done.
‘Countless pilots have been killed and lost up in those Highland mountains for sea fog and mist obscures everything in no time at all.’
Victor was buried at Kilkerran Cemetery in Campbeltown – his grave initially marked with a wooden cross.
The following details about Victor’s war service are on the Auckland War Museum Online Cenotaph:
‘Vic had a passion for flying and was a finalist in the New Zealand Herald Aviation Scholarship in May 1936.
‘After the start of the Second World War, he volunteered for the aircrew with the RNZAF. He was put on the waiting list for flight training but was given the option of joining the Fleet Air Arm with monthly drafts leaving for training in the UK.
In January 1941, Vic joined about 35 others as part of the 7th Scheme F draft in Wellington in the Royal New Zealand Volunteer Reserve (RNVR).
‘After travelling on HMS Akaroa from Wellington to the UK, Vic began training at HMS St Vincent – a Royal Navy training establishment – to become a pilot on the Fleet Air Arm.
‘He completed an elementary flying training course, flying Tiger Moths at RAF Elmdon, Birmingham. Between 1941 and 1942, Vic attended another flying training course at the Royal Naval Air Station Lee-on-Solent (HMS Daedalus) which became the main training establishment and administrative centre of the Fleet Air Arm.
‘Here he learned to fly Harvards at RAF Netheravon, Wiltshire where he gained his pilot’s flying badge and was commissioned sub-lieutenant in February 1942.
‘Vic was than assigned to the 756 Fleet Air Arm Squadron at HMS Kestrel – the Royal Naval Air Station at Worthy Down, near Winchester – training airmen for air gunnery training.
‘During the end of 1942 he was in another training squadron at HMS Jackdaw – a Royal Naval Air Station at Crail in Fife, Scotland – flying torpedo-bombers used against German U-boats, including the Fairey Swordfish.
‘After being transferred to the 781 Squadron on January 20, 1943, Vic was promoted to lieutenant in April that year. He was part of 818 Squadron which sailed aboard HMS Unicorn.
‘The squadron’s mission was to provide cover for the Gibraltar convoy escort, to patrol for U-boats and search for enemy ships in the Bay of Biscay. In February 1944, he joined a training squadron at RNAS Machrihanish (HMS Landrail) near Campbeltown for duty on the bombing ranges. In May that year he had joined 768 Squadron at Ayr, South Ayrshire (HMS Wagtail) to undergo a deck-landing course.
Victor was a great-great nephew of Caroline Roberts (1847-1921), the youngest sister of John Roberts (1829-1919), my great-great grandfather, who had 30 grandsons serving in the Great War.
Born in Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand in 1916, Victor was the son of Henry Curd (1883-1953) and Clara Elizabeth Johns (1882-1976). Clara was the daughter of John Johns (1836-1929) and Martha Henwood (1851-1942). John was a brother of Caroline’s husband, Thomas Johns (1840-1893).
Victor Selwyn Curd, who died in a flying accident in Scotland in 1944. https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/C22732