A 1944 431 Squadron Distinguished Flying Cross for JU-88 Kill
An 1944 RCAF DFC Group for JU-88 Kill - Distinguished Flying Cross, GRVI (engraved "1944" on the reverse); 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-1945; and Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp. Un-mounted, residue on the reverse of the original ribbons from previous board mounting, spots on the obverse of the WM, light contact, near extremely fine. Accompanied by his Flying Log Book (with entries dated from October 9, 1943 to September 3, 1945), RCAF Officer's Cap Badge (silver and gold-coloured bullion with red and green embroidery maroon felt in the crown, gilt metal eagle between the crown and wreath, on black wool, padded, 67 mm x 72 mm), RCAF Cap Badge (bronze, 39 mm x 44 mm), two Air Gunner Wings (one RCAF, three-colour embroidery on black wool, 49 mm x 101.5 mm; one RAF, two-colour embroidery on black wool, 37.5 mm x 97 mm), two CANADA Shoulder Flashes (light blue embroidery on bluish-gray wool, 20 mm x 78 mm each), one Pair of Flight Lieutenant Slip-On Shoulder Rank Insignia (light blue and black embroidered stripes on bluish-gray wool, 64 mm x 136 mm each), General Service Badge (sterling silver, marked "STERLING", maker marked BMCo" and numbered "437412" on the reverse, 15.3 mm x 22.5 mm, screwback), RCAF Reserve Badge (silvered bronze, maker marked "BIRKS" on the reverse, 23.5 mm x 23.5 mm, screwback) and twelve RCAF Buttons (brass, eight Large: maker marked "J R GAUNT MONTREAL", 22.8 mm each; two Medium: maker marked "FIRMIN LONDON", 17.5 mm each; two Small: maker marked "UNITED-CARR CANADA", 16.3 mm each), in addition to assorted research papers.Footnote: William Robert Cornell was a resident of Kitchener, Ontario when he enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force in London, Ontario on October 30, 1942. He was trained at No. 4 Initial Training School in Edmonton, Alberta, graduating on April 7, 1943. He followed that up with a posting to No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School in Portage-La-Prairie, Manitoba, accruing a total flight time of 23:55, graduating on November 26, 1943 and qualifying as an Air Gunner. Once in the United Kingdom, J90498 Air Gunner William R. Cornell was posted to No. 431 Squadron. The squadron was formed on November 11, 1942 with Vickers Wellington Mk Xs at Burn as part of No. 4 Group, Bomber Command, and commenced night raids with a "Gardening" mission on May 2, 1943. In July, the squadron moved to Tholthorpe, joining No. 6 (RCAF) Bomber Group and re-equipping with Handley Page Halifax Mk Vs. It was soon operational with this type again in the night offensive against Germany, flying farther a field as the longer winter nights permitted. At the end of 1943, the squadron moved again, to Croft in County Durham, where it began to re-equip with Halifax Mk IIIs in March 1944, maintaining the operational offensive all the while. These were used for seven months until the production of Canadian-built Avro Lancaster Mk Xs was sufficient to enable the squadron to re-equip with this type. Lancasters were used for the remainder of the Second World War in Europe, the last of the squadron's 3,000 or more sorties being flown with them on April 25, 1945 in a daylight raid on Wangerooge. Between March 5, 1944 and May 2, 1945, Cornell flew numerous training missions, along with thirty-six operational missions with No. 431 Squadron aboard Wellington III, Wellington X, Halifax III, Halifax V and Lancaster X aircraft. This included targets throughout France, including Houlgate, Paris, Le Mans, St. Pol, Bamieres, Foret D'Eawt, Vileneuve St. George, Siracourt, Caen, L'Hey, Bois de Cassan, St. Leu d'Esserent, South Caen, Foret de Chantilly, Acquet, Falaise and Calais, in addition to a 5:25 return flight to Coutances, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He also flew missions to Bergen (Norway) and Stuttgart (twice), Hamburg, Bremen, Brest, Julich, Duisberg, Osnabruck, Dusseldorf, Hanover, Goch, Chemnitz, Cologne and Dortmund (Germany). Cornell was awarded his Distinguished Flying Cross, effective May 10, 1945, as per the Supplement to the London Gazette, page 2670, dated May 25, 1945 and AFRO 1291/45, dated August 10, 1945: "Throughout many operational sorties, this officer has displayed a fine fighting spirit and outstanding enthusiasm to engage the enemy wherever possible. His cool, determined manner has done much to inspire the confidence in his crew. On December 6th 1944, when returning from an attack against Osnabruck, his aircraft was engaged by a JU88 (Junkers 88). Pilot Officer Cornell opened fire on the attacker and by the fine handling of his guns, drove it off after inflicting considerable damage (probably destroyed). His work has at all times set a sterling example to the rest of the squadron." In the book, "A Yorkshire Squadron - HIstory of 431 RCAF Squadron, 1942-45", it describes the full exploits on what happened to the Squadron the night Cornell won his DFC: "Thirteen Lancasters were readied and crews were briefed for an operation to Osnabruck on December 6th. S/L Kay went on this trip as second Dickie in SE-Q KB808 with S/L at the helm. The Squadron mascot "Minnie Simcoe" flew her 10th sortie, this time in SE-O captained by F/L Adilman. Only 12 of the thirteen aircraft detailed managed to get away as F/L Tonnellier and crew in SE-A KB 773 were scrubbed because they couldn't get the aircraft bombed up in time. After flying for an average of 3 to 3 1/2 hours 431 Squadron aircraft were over the target finding it covered by 10/10ths cloud. All crews made their bomb run either on Gee or by D.R. run or pinpointed the target by means of the glow from the attack on the clouds or a combination thereof. Although many fires and explosions were observed, no actual detail was visible to assess, the attack was considered scattered. F/L Adilman in SE-Q abandoned the asssignment at 54.00N - 01.25e, 16.57 hours and was back on the ground at Croft only having been airborne for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. It was discovered that the oxygen equipment in the rear turret was unserviceable and after checking the oxygen line without solving the problem the Skipper decided to return to base. Their full bomb load of 20 x 500lb bombs was jettisoned safe at 54.32N - 01.09E 17.25 hours. S/L Smith had a problem with bombs hanging up and had to jettison 3 x 500lb bombs at various points on the homeward track all finding their way into the North Sea, the last one finding its grave just 1 hour before touching down at Croft. In addition to his bomb hang up problems S/L Smith's aircraft was attacked by a JU88 at 22.00 hours again on the homeward leg. The enemy aircraft came in from the port quarter while the Lancaster was in level flight at 16,000 feet, the Mid Upper Air Gunner, P/O R. Cornell gave two short bursts and the Rear Gunner, P/O G. Supergia got off five long bursts with a starboard corkscrew was called for and executed. Hits were seen on the port engine of the JU88 with considerable fire coming from it. The fighter disappeared below the clouds and was not seen again, a claim of probably destroyed made. From this operation, four aircraft belonging to 6 Group are missing, all aircraft on charge to 431 Squadron returned to base." In June 1945, the squadron crossed the Atlantic and settled in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, disbanding on September 5, 1945. Cornell was presented his award on July 27, 1949 in Hamilton, Ontario.