Obituary from Daily Telegraph Monday, March 20, 2006 by Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork
Wing Commander "Bunny" Currant who has died aged 95, was twice awarded the DFC during the Battle of Britain when he was one of the RAF's most
successful fighter pilots, being credited with destroying at least thirteen enemy aircraft.
Currant achieved his first success on August 15 1940, the day the Luftwaffe mounted its biggest raid against the north of England. In a coordinated attack, large formations of bombers attacked from Norway and Denmark and were intercepted by the few RAF fighter squadrons based in the north east. Currant and his fellow pilots of No 605 Squadron scrambled in their Hurricanes and engaged the bombers off Newcastle. Currant shot down two Heinkel bombers and probably destroyed a third. The Luftwaffe's losses were so high during this raid that they never returned in force to the north.
No 605 was transferred to Croydon and fought throughout the most intense phase of the battle. On September 8 Currant damaged three bombers and shot one down over the airfield in full view of his groundcrew. He shared in the destruction of two more the following day. September 15 was the climax of the fighting and during a morning scramble, Currant shot down two Dornier bombers and damaged three others before his Hurricane was severely damaged, but he managed to crash land. He was airborne again in the afternoon and shot down a Messerschmitt fighter.
By the end of September he had accounted for two more fighters and vas awarded the DFC "for his great skill and courage in air combats in the defence of London". He celebrated the award by shooting down two more enemy fighters. The Battle of Britain officially ended on October 31, by which time Currant had added another to his evernounting score.
In December he destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Dover and in the New Year was awarded a Bar to his DFC.
Currant left No 605 in January for a rest tour; the squadron diarist commented:: "Bunny Currant had without doubt been one of the most successful pilots in the history of the squadron and whose leadership, wit and outstanding fighting spirit would be very sorely missed."
The son of a Luton hatter, Christopher Frederick Currant was born on December 14 1911 and educated at Rydal School. He joined the RAF in 1936 and trained as a pilot, when he gained the nickname "Bunny" which remained with him for the rest of his life.
After serving with No 46 and No 151 Squadrons flying bi-plane Gauntlet fighters, Currant converted to the Hurricane and joined No 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron in April 1940, when he was commissioned. He survived a mid-air collision before the squadron moved to Hawkinge in Kent to provide support for the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force.
Operating on his first patrol over France on May 22, he attacked three bombers over Arras. The engine of his Hurricane stopped and he prepared to bale out. He stepped on to the wing but realised that the aircraft was still able to fly, so climbed back into the cockpit and crash-landed in a field, breaking his nose. He made his way to Calais and eventually boarded a ship to return to England where he rejoined No 605 still carrying his parachute.
After the Battle of Britain Currant served as chief flying instructor of a unit training fighter pilots. On August 14 1941 he began his second tour of operations in command of No 501 Squadron equipped with the Spitfire. Flying from Ibsley in the New Forest, he led many sorties escorting bombers over France and against shipping. On one occasion three German fighters attacked him and his aircraft was shot up. The instrument panel was destroyed and a bullet struck the back of his head but Currant managed to escape at low level. In great pain he landed at a forward airfield, but his aircraft turned over on to its back due to the undercarriage tyres having been shot through. He was trapped in the petrol-soaked cockpit but was soon rescued from the wreckage. After a month in hospital, he returned to flying with fragments of shrapnel still in his head.
During September 1941 Currant played himself in the film First of the Few, which starred David Niven and Leslie Howard. Currant was cast as the squadron commander "Hunter Leader" and flew his Spitfire in the aerial sequences. In one shot he was shown firing his guns at a Heinkel bomber. The film was described as: "The epic of the Spitfire with pilots of Fighter Command." It was considered a great success. [Click to see description in 118 Sqn history].
Currant flew many sweeps over France during the spring of 1942 and in July he was promoted to wing commander to take charge of the three Spitfire squadrons that formed the Ibsley Wing. On July 7, he was awarded the DSO, being described as "a most courageous pilot and a brilliant leader". In August 1942, Currant moved to Zeals in Wiltshire to form and command No 122 Wing equipped with Spitfires, which came under the control of the new 2nd Tactical Air Force.
In April 1943 Currant added Belgian Croix de Guerre to his British decorations. He led his wing during the D-Day landings in June 1944 before departing for a lecture tour in America. On his return, he crossed to France to join No 84 Group Control Centre working in the tactical air operations centre coordinating ground attack operations in support of the Army. He was twice mentioned in dispatches.
Currant remained in the RAF after the war and after attending the Staff College spent three years in Washington on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After two years as the wing commander administration at the fighter airfield at Wattisham, and a year at the Ministry of Supply dealing with guided missiles, he left for Norway, where he joined the staff of the Royal Norwegian Air Force Staff College. At the end of his two-year appointment, the Norwegians asked him to remain for a further two years. On his departure in 1959 the Norwegian government awarded him the Order of St Olaf.
Currant retired from the RAF as a wing commander and joined Hunting Engineering in 1960, undertaking research and development work on weapons for the RAF. He finally retired in 1976.
A very modest man, Currant gave great support to local Air Training Corps squadrons and to the RAF Association. He also was a strong supporter of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. A keen sportsman, in addition to refereeing hockey matches, he umpired at a number of Wimbledon tennis championships. Currant was also a passionate golfer and claimed that he started to make his most significant improvement after he was 70.
The remains of a Hurricane that he flew during his time on No 605 were found in India some 50 years later and restored to flying
condition. It will fly in salute at his memorial service.
"Bunny" Currant died on March 12. He married, in August 1942, Cynthia Brown, who survives him with their three sons and a daughter.