Now in his 99th year, in WWII Des Curtis flew as navigator in Beaufighters and Mosquitos of Coastal Command, RAF. He was awarded D.F.C. in May 1944 and appointed Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur 2017. After six years in an engineering factory, in 1953 he joined Mobil Oil in Nigeria. In 1963 he moved to the London office and was appointed Director in 1973. He retired in 1979 and was Managing Director of World Petroleum Congress held in London in 1983. Now retired in Wimborne, he has worked for several charities and is currently fundraising for Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance and The Peoples Mosquito.
The Second World War continues to be one of the most enduringly fascinating episodes in history for many of us – for its huge reach, for its complexity, for the totality in which it affected every man, woman and child of all the main combatant nations, but above all because of the immense human drama it involved.
THE ENCIRCLEMENT OF KIEV, 1941:
HOW THE GERMANS WON THEMSELVES TO DEATH IN THE EAST
On 14 September, 1943, German armoured units linked up just to the north of Lubny in Ukraine, so completing a giant encirclement of more than three-quarters of a million Red Army troops. The Nazis hailed it as the greatest victory ever, and a giant leap towards the final, complete defeat of the Soviet Union. But was this the case? Or could the seeds of Germany’s ultimate defeat be seen in this victory? Was Nazi Germany, in fact, winning itself to defeat? In this event, Stephen Prince and James Holland will challenge many of the assumptions so often made about Operation BARBAROSSA and the early months of the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
In this special day of events at the festival, we will be discussing the astonishing De Havilland Mosquito, one of the most inspirational and iconic aircraft ever built. Joining us for an extended session will be John Lilley, the brainchild behind the People’s Mosquito project, and also Des Curtis, DFC, a former RAF navigator whose astonishing wartime experiences carrying out attacks first in Scandinavia, then training with 618 Squadron with bouncing bombs due to be used on an attack on the German battleship, Tirpitz, and then on anti-U-boat operations in the Channel and Atlantic are truly extraordinary.
THE DUNKIRK 25-POUNDER
Also included in the programme will be the setting up and firing of a very rare Dunkirk 1940-era 25-pounder field gun by the Garrison Artillery Volunteers, the Larkhill based team now unique as the only organisation still training and using wartime artillery drills. Keith Brigstock will be explaining the gun’s history and significance as well as overseeing the live-firing demonstration.
2.00-3.00pm A WAR OF EMPIRES: JAPAN, INDIA, BURMA & BRITAIN 1941-1945
Robert Lyman (included in WW2 day ticket)
3.45-4.45pm 1945: VICTORY IN THE WEST
James Holland & Stephen Prince (included in WW2 day ticket)