WWII RAF veteran aged 95 reveals friendship with German U-Boat commander
A former RAF navigator has revealed how he became close friends with the commander of a Nazi U-Boat he sunk in a Mosquito 75 years ago.
Flight Lieutenant Des Curtis took part in the daring attack when he was just 20-years-old and had been the navigator of the plane during the Second World War.
The attack on U-976, south west of St Nazaire on the Atlantic coast of France on March 25, 1944, took out the submarine while evading anti-aircraft fire from minesweepers and shelling from the shore batteries.
Despite this, Flt Lt Curtis has been described by his German foe Kommandant Raimond Teisler as 'the younger brother he never had'.
The two struck up an unlikely relationship 50 years after the attack when Flt Lt Curtis became pen pals with the U-976's commander.
Motivated by curiosity, Flt Lt Curtis wrote to a U-Boat archivist in Germany to ask if he could provide any information about the crew of the U-976.
The archivist replied that he was, in fact, a friend of the commander who was still alive and he would be willing to pass on a letter to him.
They eventually met up in Germany, with Raimond also visiting Flt Lt Curtis in England before his death five years ago.
Flt Lt Curtis, 95, who lives in Bournemouth, Dorset, flew in a staggering 70 sorties with his trusted pilot Doug Turner during the war, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for his 'exceptional' navigation skills.
Four of the U-Boat's 53 man crew were killed in the attack which was later immortalised on the front page of the boy's own adventure magazine 'Victor'.
He is believed to be the last surviving member of 618 Squadron, who were closely linked to the legendary 617 'Dambusters' Squadron.
Reliving the raid, he said: "Flying Mosquitos, our task was to seek out German U-boats as they entered or left their heavily protected bases on the French Atlantic coast.
"We were given precise times and locations of U-boats from intercepted German naval signals."