The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Francis Lyle
Nick Name:
Lieutenant (appointed 1 Nov 1940)
Regimental #:
Headquarters Company, No. 1 Platoon Sigs. (replaced by Lt. K. Lee)
Place of Birth:
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Carlyle Curnow
Mothers's Name:
Naomi Curnow
Pre-war Occupation:
Kranji War Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 10, Age 24.
Cause of Death:
Killed in Action
Place of Death:
Hill 200, Ulu Pandan
Date of Death:
Where killed at map reference 763162 by Major A. Clough Party on 21.12.1942

General Description

Curnow was with the 28th Militia prior to enlisted AIF.
Frank Curnow never saw his new-born son.  The ‘Aquitania’ anchored at Gage Roads off Fremantle on the night 15 Jan 1942, and a great number of 2/4th machine Gunners jumped ship to see their families for what they thought may be the last time.  It had been nearly six months six the battalion left WA.   Curnow remained on board, bitterly disappointed of course but had time to write to his wife to tell her his sadness.
CO of HQ Coy No. Platoon No. 1 Signals, Lt Frank Curnow was dead within a month.  He was KIA Hill 200 Ulu Padan 12 Feb 1942 aged 24 years.

Please read about Hill 200, Ulu Padan

His body was not recovered and buried until 21 Dec 1942 when Major Cough’s Party was finally given permission by the Japanese, to locate their dead.  His body was later interred and buried at Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore.
As Cough gave a sermon at the top of Hill 200 where the bodies were buried by the party he led,  he later wrote in his diary his thoughts at that moment were of the young men who had lost their lives needlessly.  Cough was accommodated at Woodside in the room next door to Frank Cough, and he would hear him every day  say good morning to the photo of his son Lyle, whom he never saw.



Lt Curnow, Lt Royce and Lt Raphael
Lt Curnow, Lt Royce and Lt Raphael



Evans & Curnow
Evans & Curnow


Curnow’s family did not have to wait until 1945 to learn of his death as so many others did.


Headstone Curnow


Please read further about the recovery of Curnow’s body.

Curnow Francis L


Curnow had previously been with 28th Btn Militia.
Attended No. 27 Course Army School of Sigs, Liverpool, NSW from 10/2/1941 to 23/3/1941.
Frank Curnow was killed in action at Ulu Plandan on 12th February 1942.  Below is a detailed handwritten letter by Major Cough outlining all the information to hand about Curnow’s death.
He was killed by machine-gun fire through his chest.  The Battalion suffered heavy casualties and all officers were killed.
Following details from a letter written by W.O. Jim Unsworth:
On the evening of 12 Feb Lt Curnow was detailed with a party under the command of Capt O.S. McEwin to take  enemy machine gun position(s). During the bayonet charge Lt Curnow was presumed KIA.
The last person to see Lt Curnow alive was Pte McCracken (who later lost his life when ‘Rakuyo’ Maru was torpedoed Sept 1944 in South China Sea) who reported he was attending to the wounds of Sgt Hansen when Lt. Curnow came along and took a rifle and bayonet, leading his men on an attack on the enemy machine gun position.
Lt. Curnow was near the apex of the hill when our artillery was concentrated on the enemy position.   That evening our Unit received orders to withdraw.  It was impossible to send out further reinforcements owing to the heavy artillery fire having been concentrated on the area.


Please read further about Ulu Pandan.



Version 8






Frank’s parents Carlyle Curnow and Agnes Naomi known as ‘Mandy’ Robinson married Kalgoorlie in 1914.   Frank was  one of three sons (Stan and Don) and two daughters Barbara and Gwenyth.     Carlyle Curnow died in 1968 and Naomi ‘Mandy’  Curnow died in 1977 in Perth.
Both Stan and Don served with RAAF.  Stan was a ground engineer serving in NT.  He fell from a transport, was seriously injured and unable to return to active duties.
His brother Don Curnow had a miraculous journey to safety following a plane crash in May 1943 WW2.




The Curnow family was to endure another terrible family tragedy – in October 1951 youngest daughter Gwenyth died in an air crash near Kalgoorlie.  She was one of 10 persons killed in the Airlines (WA) Ltd. crash.

Gwenyth had completed her nursing training.




At 17 years Frank Curnow commenced working at WAGR, Kalgoorlie as a junior clerk and moved through the ranks until he enlisted in 1940.

Frank was a keen competitive rifle shooter.

Frank Curnow married Gladys Jean Rogers about 1937, they had one surviving son Lyle,  as well as two sad infant deaths.

Below is notice of death of Jean Curnow’s father.

There is a plaque at Kalgoorlie Hospital Memorial garden

Jean Curnow never remarried and died in Perth in 2009.

Carlyle Curnow died 1968 in Perth and Naomi Curnow died 1977.