Squadron Leader John Harvey ("Crash") Curry, OBE, DFC was an American airman who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during the Second World War.

Curry was born on 12 August 1915, in Dallas, Texas.[1] Before the war, he worked as a a "barnstormer" pilot, dusting crops, and owned an airfield in his hometown. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940, becoming an instructor in the Empire Training Plan.[2] In late 1941, Curry arrived in Britain for training with 57 OTU, after which, in March 1942, he joined the Westland Whirlwind-equipped 137 Squadron, RAF. His time with the squadron ended within a couple of weeks, when he transferred to 610 Squadron, operating Supermarine Spitfires.[1]

He left Britain in June, for the Mediterranean theatre, where he took off with 31 other pilots from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle in an attempt (Operation 'Style') to reinforce the besieged island of Malta. Four of the aircraft were intercepted and shot down by the Luftwaffe.[3] In the Mediterranean, Curry flew Spitfires with 601 Squadron, recording his first "kill" on 26 June, a Macchi MC.202.[1] His squadron soon afterwards undertook missions over the Western Desert in support of the North African Campaign. During this period, Curry was credited with seven destroyed aircraft (inlcuding one Junkers Ju-52 shared), three probables, and three damaged.[4][1]

In June 1943, Curry assumed command of 89 Squadron, equipped with Hawker Hurricanes (later replaced by Spitfires), having been resting at RAF Headquarters since November. On 2 March 1944, while strafing tanks in Italy, Curry's Spitfire was brought down by anti-aircraft fire, near Rocco di Mezzo. Despite contending with the wintery conditions of the mountainous terrain, Curry, in company with a number of Allied escapees and assisting locals, eluded Axis forces for weeks. With one of the escapees, Curry embarked on an arduous journey towards Allied lines, scaling Monte Morrone and Mont Meilla. Finally, on 18 March, the two men reached Indian troops from the 6th Lancers.[1]

Curry returned to Canada in July, and there was assigned to a number of posts until being discharged from the RCAF in September 1945. After the war, the British Government awarded him the Order of the British Empire, which he was presented with at Buckingham Palace in 1948. In civilian life, Curry returned to the United States, where he worked for the aerospace industry and NASA. He died, in Oak Hill, Florida, on 18 March 2008.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Air Force Association of Canada, Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  2. Kennedy, Edward (AP), The Windsor Daily Star: p. 1, "Hun Pilots Run Away From Imperials in Desert War". 28 August 1942.
  3. Nichols, Steve (2008), Malta Spitfire Aces, p. 50.
  4. Thomas, Andred (2007), American Spitfire Aces of World War 2, p. 42.

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