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HomeSpanish NewsTHE MISSING CHAPTER  - The Chief


By John McGregor

John ‘Curtis’ Collins is a typical genial Geordie, all the time prepared with a giant smile and fun or joke by no means distant. At the moment John is 76 and lives in La Marina, Spain together with his beautiful spouse Elaine. He has two kids, a daughter Maxine in Australia, a son Paul dwelling in Sweden and 4 grandchildren.

For many of his life John had all the time felt that his life story had a lacking chapter involving secrets and techniques that his mom Sylvia was unable to share with him. John was born in 1945 and was introduced up by Sylvia and his step-father with a step-sister and step-brother. Behind this seemingly harmless post-war story of rising up in Garesfield, Newcastle, John’s lacking chapter lay hidden and would solely come to mild a few years later – due to some diligent analysis by Elaine and Maxine, each with a need to supply John with the solutions he all the time needed to know.

Introduced up in a troublesome mining neighborhood pre-war Sylvia was compelled to take care of her bullying father from an early age after her mom had walked out, taking their youthful daughter together with her. Because the Second World Conflict raged on the sad Sylvia by some means managed to get her drunken father’s signature on a doc, enabling her to flee the drudgery of her existence and she or he started to take pleasure in life, efficiently becoming a member of the Womens Royal Air Pressure in war-torn Britain.

In the meantime on the opposite facet of the world a twenty-year previous younger man of fine inventory was getting ready to go away his Australian house – like a superb ANZAC he joined up in 1942 to serve his nation within the conflict.  Though engaged from a younger age Curtis Warren Wheelock needed to journey and see the world earlier than settling down. A lot in opposition to his childhood sweetheart’s needs the younger man joined the Royal Australian Air Pressure as a Wi-fi/Gunner and from his native Melbourne was despatched to Canada to hold out his fundamental coaching in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

At a time when the world was being turned on its head by the conflict everybody’s fast future in life was in nice doubt: folks lived for the day, not realizing what would befall themselves, their households and buddies.

In Winnipeg Curtis met a divorced mom with a nine-year previous daughter. Though older than himself she made him really feel particular and he quickly discovered himself falling in love. Quickly he married the girl and adopted her daughter.

Though very blissful the younger Australian did the proper factor by writing house and calling off his engagement to his broken-hearted  fiancée again in Melbourne. However in these war-torn turbulent instances each service life – and true life – didn’t stand nonetheless: life was about dwelling for the second.

After eighteen months in Canada the Aussie airman was once more posted abroad, this time to affix an operational Squadron quantity 279, based mostly at RAF stations in Northern England and Scotland.  Throughout this era Flight Lieutenant Curtis Wheelock was flying as crew in a twin-engined Warwick plane, a Coastal Command aircraft serving to with reconnaissance and air-sea rescue trying to find personnel in hassle within the merciless North Atlantic seas.

In yet one more vastly emotional twist of life, thrown collectively to assist defend the Allied Forces Sylvia and Curtis met and fell in love. At nights exterior she would sit and hear for his plane returning house, realizing which engine noise belonged to which plane and to fervently pray for her man’s secure return.

However one night time on 16th Might 1945 destiny and the conflict dealt each their lives a tragic blow. On getting back from a coaching train Curtis’s plane suffered engine hassle and the stricken aircraft couldn’t get again to its house base. Trying an emergency touchdown at a Scottish airfield the pilot couldn’t preserve the Warwick on the shorter runway, overshot it and tragically hit a passing items practice.

A younger railway porter shortly arrived on the scene and managed to tug 4 of the injured six-man crew clear, however was unable to avoid wasting the pilot and Curtis. A really horrible unintentional loss of life of a twenty-three year-old man – a person with dependants and duties – and all of the world to stay for.

Sylvia was now 5 months pregnant with Curtis’s youngster. After his loss of life she stayed on till compelled to go away the providers and afterwards needed to return to Newcastle and her disapproving mother and father. Sylvia married a person, a widower fourteen years older with two kids of his personal. Some would say a wedding of comfort, however the circumstances dictated her subsequent life in slowly-recovering post-war Britain.

John & Heather with medals. Heather is the daughter of an Australian pal of Curtis.

John Curtis Collins (Sylvia’s maiden title was Collins) was born in 1945, mockingly simply because the Second World Conflict was ending. John grew up realizing the person he knew as Dad was not his actual father and developed a sure rebellious angle rising on events – however the fact of his parentage was by no means out there to him. It was solely when her husband died Sylvia started to speak in confidence to John and the true story started to return out  – though far more analysis was wanted for the entire fact to lastly emerge.

Actually the Canada facet of the story was not recognized at this stage, however Curtis’s conflict document – and his 4 unclaimed Service medals  –  steadily got here to mild through Australia together with his adolescence at house and college. Two childhood mates, brothers he went to high school with and their households have been contacted, offering many extra vibrant particulars of John’s father’s adolescence and have been added to finish the image of a preferred younger man who had died such a tragic early loss of life.

Again in peacetime Scotland immediately there’s a lot exercise remembering historic locations, issues – and folks. Elaine and John’s daughter Maxine stored wanting and researching, and final month an unimaginable situation came about. Loving surprises Elaine took John again to Scotland (John thought he was visiting his native Newcastle).

However in an unimaginable reception at Fraserburgh, close to Aberdeen  John quickly discovered himself the centre of consideration. An unveiling ceremony of a gravestone for his father came about, along with John’s personal title with a big crowd there to understand the event and benefit from the full presentation.

John’s personal, real-life father had lastly been recognised and honoured by everybody concerned in his personal life, a life tragically reduce quick by the savage instances and occasions of a merciless World Conflict.

The disclosing ceremony of a gravestone for John’s father

Sadly John’s mom Sylvia died in 2006. However the true fact lastly come out, giving her son John the total solutions that he had all the time sought about his actual identification: i.e who his father was and that man’s background and historical past.

He was a person whose large, beneficiant, loving coronary heart answered the decision when his nation wanted him. At the moment his son John Curtis Collins is a contented man and is aware of who he’s, the place he comes from – and his household historical past is full.

** John McGregor writes: unusually sufficient my very own father got here from New Zealand to the UK as a younger single man in 1942 equally to struggle within the conflict like Curtis. Kiwi Dad joined the Royal Navy as a Fleet Air Arm pilot , and by 1944 he had met and married my English mom. That they had my elder sister and he was instantly posted to West Africa the place he noticed out the conflict.

As quickly because it completed Dad was shipped again to New Zealand the place he despatched for my Mum and sister who joined him there. Query: would Curtis have accomplished the identical, i.e. returned to his native Australia as a part of the post-war reparations to be together with his household? Or again to Canada to be re-united together with his spouse and step-daughter? Or would he have stayed on in England with Sylvia and her child son?

Clearly we are going to by no means know the solutions following the tragedy that befell Curtis – however we do now know the total fact of John’s father, and we will now finally fill within the superb lacking chapter **.




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