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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J B Courtis


Jack Burrall Courtis was born at Bluff, on the southern tip of the South Island, New Zealand on 1st October 1914, the son of Arthur Henry and Ruth Violet Courtis.

He was educated at Waihopai School and Southland Boys High School, on graduating he worked as a clerk for the Vacuum Oil Company at Invercargill.

In June 1939 Courtis joined the Civil Reserve of Pilots and began elementary flying training with the Southland Aero Club.



He volunteered for the RNZAF at the outbreak of war and reported to the Ground Training School at Weraroa on 19th November 1939. Courtis did his initial training at No. 1 EFTS Taieri and then went to No. 1 FTS Wigram on 13th January 1940.

Being injured in a forced-landing in April put him in hospital for four weeks. He completed the course and sailed for the UK in the RMS Rangitane, arriving at Liverpool on 27th August.

Courtis went to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge and was posted from there to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 11th September 1940. After converting to Hurricanes he joined 111 Squadron at Drem on the 29th.

Courtis was killed on 5th December 1940 when his Hurricane P3470 crashed into a hill in bad weather 30 miles NE of Edzell.

Courtis is buried in Sleepyhillock Cemetery, Montrose.


Above image courtesy of Julian Tansell.


He is also commemorated on the family grave at Invercargill, NZ.


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