">
103 Squadron Banner

Web Master - D W Fell at 103squadronraf@gmail.com This website and its content is copyright of David William Fell and/or the contributors. All rights reserved. See Copyright Notice at the bottom of the Homepage. For latest updates see Notices and News page

[103 Squadron RAF]
[Profiles 103 Sqn N to Z]
[Bill Way 103 Sqn]
[Van Rolleghem 103 Sqn]
[Lawrie Oldham 103 Sqn]
[Jack Spark 103 Sqn]
[Val Richter 103 Sqn]
[Tom Prickett 103 Sqn]
[Maldy Williams 103 Sqn]
[Al Watt 103 Sqn]
[Tom Sadler 103 Sqn]
[Ken H Wallis 103 Sqn]
[Nicky Ross 103 Sqn]
[Stan Slater DSO OBE DFC]
[J H Richards Crew 103 Sqn]
[Arthur Roberts 103 Sqn]
[Roper and crew 103 Sqn]
[Selmo Verniuewe 103 Sqn]
[Louis Remi 103 Sqn]
[Cyril Rollins 103/576 Sqns]
[John Rose 103 Sqn]
[Presland crew 103/576 Sqn]
[Eric Piper 103 Sqn]
[Bill Steel and crew 103 Sqn]
[Harold Whiting 103 Sqn]

Google
WWWwww.northlincsweb.net/103Sqn/

F/S J V Roper RAFVR and crew - 103 Sqn.

103 Squadron Roper

The last Flight of D - Donald

John Curnow was navigator in Johnnie Roper's ( see pic above ) crew which were posted to 103 Sqn in the late summer of 1942. They started flying operations in Oct 42 on Halifaxes converting to Lancasters in Nov 42. At the time of their loss they were the senior crew at Elsham Wolds, the last of the "Halifax Boys".

In his memoirs John states they were attacked by a night fighter without warning and the first shell hit the starboard wing. He left his navigator’s table and clipped on his parachute which was something he had never done before. He moved to the cockpit to find the Engineer, Sgt Rose, had gone down to the bomb aimer’s position. The pilot, Johnnie Roper, asked him to check the starboard side to see if the extinguisher had put out the fire. There was a small hole with flames coming out quite near the inner engine. John Curnow feathered the engine and pressed the fire extinguisher button but it did not work.

Before anything more could be done, there were a series of loud bangs from the wing and with each bang the wheel jerked anti clockwise in Johnnie Roper’s hands and the starboard wing rose higher and higher. Johnnie Roper was off his seat putting all his weight on the wheel trying to pull it back to no avail as the fire had destroyed the aileron controls.

The bomber flipped over onto its back and went into a diving spin. John Curnow was pinned down and could not lift his chin from his chest nor lift his hands. He thought he was going to die.

After what seemed like an eternity there was a crashing explosion of light, sound and violence. As he regained consciousness a blurred red ball kept passing before him and he realised he was tumbling over and over in the cold winter night air. He quickly reached across and pulled the rip cord of the parachute he had so providentially clipped on barely two minutes earlier.

He watched D-Donald, now a flaming comet, plunge to earth and wondered whether anyone else had been blown clear. John landed by parachute on a nearby railway line not far from the crash. None of his crew mates survived.

The aircraft crashed very near the French village of Lavannes where the 6 crew are buried. Years later John and his wife visited Lavannes twice and a memorial was unveiled at the site of the crash.

A full account of John’s experienced are contained in his excellent book Shot Down which is still available on Amazon here.

Roper Crew Tour details:-

Date - 13/14th Oct 1942. Target - Kiel. A/C - Halifax.  Serial - W7861.

Crew :-

Sgt J V Roper.

Sgt J M Curnow.

Sgt J S Dobie.

Sgt J A Todd.

Sgt J S Rose.

Sgt C E L Duncan.

Sgt E Waghorn.

Up - 1836. Down - 0054. Bombed form 10,000ft at 2136.

Date - 15/16th Oct 942. Target - Cologne. A/C - Halifax. Serial - W7861. Crew - As above.

Up - 1911. Down - 0021. Bombed from 10,000ft at 2055.

Date - 24/25th Oct 1942. Target - Milan. A/C - Halifax. Serial - W7861. Crew - As above.

Failed to take off. Aircraft U/S.

Date - 22/23rd Nov 1942. Target - Stuttgart. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Up - 1823. Down - 0321. Bombed from 10,000ft at 2156.

30 x 4lb incendiaries hung up.

Date - 6/7th Dec 1942. Target - Mannheim. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

 Up - 1722. Down - 0044. Bombed from 11,000ft at 2055.

Date - 8/9th Dec 1942. Target - Baltic Entrance/ Mining. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4787. Crew - As above.

Failed to take off. Aircraft U/S.

Date - 9/10th Dec 1942. Target - Turin. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4340. Crew - As above.

Up - 1744. Down - 0215. Bombed from 12,000ft at 2205.

Date - 20/21st Dec 1942. Target - Duisberg. A/C - Lancaster.  Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Failed to take off. Aircraft U/S.

Note. Sgt Roper now shown as F/S.

Date - 21/22nd Dec 1942. Target - Munich. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4340. Crew - As above.

Up - 1733. Down - 0214. Bombed from 12,000ft at 2127.

Date -  4th Jan 1943. Target - Essen. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4335. Crew - As above.

Up - 1744. Down - 2203. Bombed from 20,000ft at 1944.

Date - 16/17th Jan 1943. Target - Berlin. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Up - 1645. Down - 0029. Bombed from 18,000ft at 2019.

Date - 17/18th Jan 1943. Target - Berlin. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Up - 1703. Down - 1942. Early return. Starboard outer engine U/S. Bombs jettisoned.

Date - 21st Jan 1943. Target - Essen. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Up - 1742. Down - 2146. Bombed from 19,000ft at 1846.

Date - 23rd Jan 1943. Target - Dusseldorf. A/C - Dusseldorf. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Up - 1726. Down - 2211.Bombed from 20,000ft at 1956.

Date - 27th Jan 1943. Target - Dusseldorf. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Up - 1744. Down - 2203. Bombed from 19,000ft at 2009.

Date - 31st Jan 1943. Target - Hamburg. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above.

Swerved on take off due to cross wind. Aircraft crashed before it left the ground.

Date - 11th Feb 1943. Target - Wilhelmshaven. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4323. Crew - As above. Up - 1753. Down - 2222. Bombed from 18,500ft at 2006.

Date - 13/14th Feb 1943. Target - Lorient. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above.

Up - 1757. Down - 0006. Bombed from 12,000ft at 2036.

Date - 14/15th Feb 1943. Target - Milan. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above except Sgt R L May replaced Sgt Duncan. Up - 1904. Down - 0318. Bombed from 15,000ft at 2232.

Date - 16/17th Feb 1943. Target - Lorient. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above except Sgt H Garforth replaced Sgt May. Up - 1840. Down - 2350. Bombed from 12,000ft at 2049.

Date - 25/26th Feb 1943. Target - Nuremberg. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above except Sgt C E L Duncan replaced Sgt Garforth. Up - 1956. Down - 0338. Bombed from 14,500ft at 2355.

Date - 26th Feb 1943. Target - Cologne. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above.

Up - 1855. Down - 2330. Bombed from 14,000ft at 2115.

Date - 28/29th Feb 1943. Target - St Nazaire. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4845. Crew - As above. Up - 1847. Down - 0029. Bombed from 10,000ft at 2135.

Date - 1/2nd March 1943. Target - Berlin. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above.

Up - 1850. Down - 0155. Bombed from 16,000ft at 2115.

Date - 3/4th March 1943. Target - Hamburg. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above.

Up - 1944. Down - 0031. Bombed from 15,000ft at 2122.

Date - 5/6th March 1943. Target - Essen. A/C - Lancaster.  Serial - W4828. Crew - As above except Sgt R Ingram replaced Sgt Duncan. Up - 1944. Down - 0031. Bombed from 15,000ft at 2122.

Date - 8/9th March 1943. Target - Nuremberg. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860 . Crew - As above except Sgt J Smith replaced Sgt Ingram. Up - 1944. Down - 0313. Bombed from 15,000ft at 2331.

Date - 9/10th March 1943. Target - Munich. A/C - Lancaster. Serial - W4860. Crew - As above. Up - 2008. Failed to return.

Probable fighter victim. Crashed near Lavannes ( Marne ) 12 km NE of Reims. Sgt J M Curnow survived and became a POW. Those who died rest at Lavannes Churchyard.

Lavannes Official Group

Lavannes Memorial Group John Curnow and his wife 3rd and 4th from the left

Lavannes Memorial

Lavannes Memorial.

 

www.103squadronraf.org.uk

E mail address - 103squadronraf@gmail.com