Decorations & Gallantry Medals > SOLD - DFC Group to RCAF to a P/O, Air Gunner, No. 431 (Iroqouis) Squadron, RCAF
SOLD - DFC Group to RCAF to a P/O, Air Gunner, No. 431 (Iroqouis) Squadron, RCAF

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Prod. Code: 1177

A Second World War D.F.C. group of six awarded to Pilot Officer W. R. Cornell, Royal Canadian Air Force, a skilled Mid-Upper Gunner who flew 36 Operational Sorties

Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated '1944' and in its Royal Mint case of issue; 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal 1939-45, Canadian issue in silver; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, with overseas clasp; War Medal 1939-45, Canadian issue in silver, good very fine (6)

D.F.C. London Gazette 25 May 1945.

William R. Cornell joined No. 432 Squadron at East Moor, Yorkshire on 5 June 1944 and flew his first Op that same day in a Halifax flown by Flight Lieutenant Pettit, bombing Houlgate. He flew on Coutances on D-Day and made it a hat-trick, bombing the railway yards in Paris on 7 June to notch his first 3 Sorties in three days. Having completed 5 Sorties by 15 June, Cornell joined No. 419 Squadron at Middleton St. George and flew his first Sortie in a Lancaster on 24 June, raiding Bamieres. As the months rolled on, Cornell honed his skills, firing on a Ju88 when attacking Vileneuve St George on 4 July and taking flak on Sortie 13 to Stuttgart on 25 July. Their Lancaster returned home from Hamburg on just three engines on 28 July.

Cornell joined No. 431 (Iroqouis) Squadron at Croft, Durham in August 1944 and flew his 20th Sortie to attack guns, tanks and troops in the Falaise area on 18 August. He was on the raid of 4 October to Bergen, Norway to attack the submarine pens, but it was his 28th Sortie on 6 December that would see Cornell called upon. Flying home from their target of Osnabruk, Squadron Leader Smith had their Lancaster flying level at 16,000ft at around 2200hrs. An enemy Ju88 attacked them from the port quarter, with Cornell getting in two bursts and the Rear Gunner, Pilot Officer Supergia getting off five bursts. A starboard corkscrew was called for and executed, with the Ju88 spotted to have fire pouring from its port engine - it was claimed probable destroyed (A Yorkshire Squadron - History of 431 RCAF, 1942-45, refers).

Cornell flew his 36th and final Sortie on 12 March 1945, for a raid on Dortmund. He completed 204.05 operational hours and having flown as a Training Gunner, was returned to Canada with 661 Wing at Dartmouth; sold together with his Flying Log Book, besides a number of buttons, cloth insignia and badges.

CORNELL, P/O William Robert (J90498) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.431 Squadron - Award effective 10 May 1945 as per London Gazette dated 25 May 1945 and AFRO 1291/45 dated 10 August 1945. Born April 1923. Home in Kitchener, Ontario; enlisted London, Ontario, 30 October 1942. To No.3 Manning Depot, 15 November 1942. To No.4 ITS, 16 January 1943; posted to No.3 SFTS, 7 April 1943 (purpose not clear); to No.4 ITS again, 1 May 1943; promoted LAC, 9 July 1943; to No.6 EFTS, 10 July 1943; ceased training and posted to No.2 Manning Depot, 13 August 1943; to No.2 Air Gunner Ground Training School, 20 August 1943; to No.3 BGS, 5 October 1943; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 12 November 1943. To \"Y\" Depot, 26 November 1943. Taken on strength of No.3 PRC, 13 December 1943. Commissioned 24 September 1944. Promoted Flying Officer, 24 March 1945. Repatriated 13 June 1945 for Tiger Force training. Retired 3 November 1945. Award presented in Hamilton, 27 July 1949. 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. In December 1944, when returning from an attack against Osnabruck, his aircraft was engaged by a 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. His work has at all times set a sterling example to the rest of the squadron.

DHist file 181.009 D.5526 (RG.24 Vol.20667) has recommendation, date uncertain but drafted by W/C R.F. Davenport when he had flown 30 sorties (156 hours ten minutes). Submission and sortie list as follows: 5 June 1944 - Houlgate (4.35) 6 June 1944 - Coutances (5.25) 7 June 1944 - Paris (4.30) 9 June 1944 - Le Mans (5.35) 15 June 1944 - St.Pol (4.20) 24 June 1944 - Bamieres (4.05) 27 June 1944 - Foret d?Eawy (4.45) 4 July 1944 - Villeneuve St. George (6.15) 6 July 1944 - Siracourt (5.20) 7 July 1944 - Caen (4.40) 18 July 1944 - Caen (4.25) 20 July 1944 - L?Hey (4.00) 25 July 1944 - Stuttgart (9.45) 28 July 1944 - Hamburg (5.55) 3 August 1944 - Bois de Casson (5.00) 5 August 1944 - St. Leu d?Esserent (5.25) 7 August 1944 - South Caen (4.50) 8 August 1944 - Foret de Chantilly (5.20) 9 August 1944 - Acquet (4.35) 14 August 1944 - Falaise (4.05) 18 August 1944 - Bremen (5.50) 25 August 1944 - Brest (4.35) 26 September 1944 - Calais (3.50) 4 October 1944 - Bergen (6.55) 14 October 1944 - Duisburg (5.35) 16 November 1944 - Julich (5.35) 30 November 1944 - Duisburg (7.00) 6 December 1944 - Osnabruck (6.55) 24 December 1944 - Dusseldorf (6.15) 5 January 1945 - Hanover (6.10) Pilot Officer Cornell has flown thirty operational sorties as a Mid-Upper Gunner. His cool, determined manner has done much to enhance the morale of his crew. On the 6th December 1944, his aircraft was attacked by a Ju.88 while returning from Osnabruck. Acting immediately on the Rear Gunner's commentary and cooperating perfectly in the defensive team, he fired on the enemy aircraft, damaging it. This officer's fine offensive spirit and courageous handling of his guns has been a shining example to the rest of the squadron. In view of Pilot Officer Cornell's splendid record, I strongly recommend that he be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

William married Joyce Smith on 31st August 1946 at Kitchener, Ontario and they had 5 children together, He died in Vancouver, B.C. on 22nd May 2001.

INFO ON THE REAR GUNNER:

SUPERGIA, P/O Gus (J90611) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.431 Squadron - Award effective 10 May 1945 as per London Gazette dated 25 May 1945 and AFRO 1291/45 dated 10 August 1945. Born 18 February 1921 in Regina; home in Georgetown, British Guiana (crane operator). Served in Canadian Army. Enlisted in RCAF, Windsor, Ontario, 27 April 1943 and posted to No.1 Manning Depot. To No.23 Pre-Aircrew Education Detachment, 27 June 1943. To No.1 Air Gunner Ground Training School, 20 August 1943. Promoted LAC, 2 October 1943 when posted to No.9 BGS; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 12 November 1943. To “Y” Depot, 26 November 1943; taken on strength of No.3 PRC, Bournemouth, 13 December 1943. Commissioned 24 September 1944. Promoted Flying Officer, 24 March 1945. Repatriated 14 May 1945. To No.1 Air Command, 27 May 1945. To St. Hubert, 14 July 1945. Retired 27 August 1945. Award presented 31 August 1950 in Georgetown, British Guiana. // Pilot Officer Supergia, as rear gunner, has flown on numerous operational sorties, at all times displaying coolness and vigilance worthy of the highest praise. In December 1944, while returning from a mission to Osnabruck, his aircraft was attacked by a Junkers 88. This officer's excellent directions enabled his pilot to manoeuvre the aircraft into a favourable position. Handling his guns with cool determination, Pilot Officer Supergia then opened fire on the attacker, damaging it and forcing it to break off the engagement. Throughout this officer has shown outstanding courage and determination under fire and has set an inspiring example to the other members of his crew. // DHist file 181.009 D.5526 (RG.24 Vol.20667) has recommendation by W/C R.F. Davenport (undated) submitted when he had flown 29 sorties (150 hours 20 minutes), 5 June 1944 to 5 January 1945. // 5 June 1944 - Houlgate (4.20) // 6 June 1944 - Coutrances (4.25) // 9 June 1944 - Le Mans (5.35) // 15 June 1944 - St. Pol (4.20) // 24 June 1944 - Bamieres (4.05) // 27 June 1944 - Foret d’Eawt (4.45) // 4 July 1944 - Villeneuve St. George (6.15) // 6 July 1944 - Siracourt (5.20) // 7 July 1944 - Caen (4.40) // 18 July 1944 - Caen (4.25) // 20 July 1944 - L’Hay (4.00) // 25 July 1944 - Stuttgart (9.45) // 28 July 1944 - Hamburg (5.55) // 3 August 1944 - Bois de Casson (5.00) // 5 August 1944 - St. Leu d’Esserent (5.25) // 7 August 1944 - Caen South (4.50) // 8 August 1944 - Foret Chantilly (5.20) // 9 August 1944 - Acquet (4.35) // 14 August 1944 - Falaise (4.05) // 18 August 1944 - Bremen (5.50) // 25 August 1944 - Brest (4.35) // 26 September 1944 - Calais (3.50) // 4 October 1944 - Bergen (6.35) // 14 October 1944 - Duisburg (5.35) // 16 November 1944 - Julich (5.35) // 30 November 1944 - Duisburg (7.00) // 6 December 1944 - Osnabruck (6.55) // 24 December 1944 - Dusseldorf (6.15) // 5 January 1945 - Hanover (6.05) // Pilot Officer Supergia has flown as a rear gunner on 29 operational sorties, at all times showing coolness and vigilance worthy of the highest praise. On 6th December 1944, whilst returning from Osnabruck, this officer’s aircraft was attacked by a Ju.88 from the rear. In conjunction with the mid-upper gunner and pilot, Pilot Officer Supergia maneouvred his aircraft into a favourable position and opened fire on the fighter, registering hits and damaging the enemy. This officer handled his guns with cool determination, making split second decisions to guide his pilot and mid-upper gunner. I strongly recommend that Pilot Officer Supergia’s skill and courage be recognized by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. // RCAF Press Release No. 1301 dated 6 December 1944 from Sergeant John Badger, New Westminster, reads: // WITH RCAF BOMBER GROUP IN BRITAIN: - The Iroquois Squadron Lancaster was homebound after bombing Osnabruck, and to the JU.88 pilot trailing it in the clouds, the unwieldy-looking giant seemed like easy revenge. At last, he manoeuvred into position and sped in to the attack from one side of the Canadian-built aircraft. // Immediately, the big machine dipped a wing and its nose in a corkscrewing movement of surprising agility. It was not for nothing that the pilot, Squadron Leader Harold Smith of New Westminster, B.C., commanded a flight of Iroquois aircrews. // At the same time, the tail gunner, Pilot Officer Gus Supergia of Regina (2165 Francis Street), sent a long burst of tracers riveting into the heavily armed night fighter. It never had a chance to fire. As Supergia gave it three more bursts, his mate in the mid-upper turret rotated his guns into position and contributed two short bursts. Both gunners saw strikes rattling on the Junkers. A spot of fire, showed on one of its twin engines, spread swiftly. The Nazi sheered away in a dive, well aflame. Since it disappeared into thick cloud below, it has only been claimed as “probably destroyed”.

INFO ON THE PILOT :

SMITH, F/L (now S/L) Harold Murray (J9532) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.431 Squadron - Award effective 1 December 1944 as per London Gazette dated 8 December 1944 and AFRO 337/45 dated 23 February 1945. Born 19 February 1915 in New Westminster; home there; service station attendant and salesman. Educated at Edmond Street Public School (1921-1929) and T.J. Trapp Technical School (1928-1931). Enlisted in Vancouver, 3 May 1941 and posted to No.3A Manning Depot. To No.8 BGS, 17 June 1941. To No.4 ITS, 15 July 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 19 August 1941 when posted to No.18 EFTS; graduated 10 October 1941; posted next day to No.15 SFTS; graduated and commissioned 2 January 1942. To “Y” Depot, 3 January 1942. To RAF overseas, 9 February 1942. Disembarked in Britain 19 February 1942. To No.2 Flying Instructor School, 3 April 1942. To Station Gohill, 3 June 1942. To No.15 (Pilots) AFU, 4 June 1942. Promoted Flying Officer, 10 October 1942. Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 2 January 1944. To No.82 OTU, 1 February 1944. To No.61 Base, 7 May 1944. Attached to No.1664 Conversion Unit, 7 May t 14 June 1944. To No.431 Squadron, 14 June 1944. To No.419 Squadron, 16 June 1944. To No.431 Squadron, 9 August 1944. Promoted Squadron Leader, 30 August 1944. To RCAF Overseas Headquarters, 7 April 1945. To No.64 Base, 7 June 1945. Repatriated 18 June 1945 and posted on 19 June 1945 to No.8 OTU. To Dartmouth, 21 June 1945. To Greenwood, 6 October 1945. To Eastern Air Command Headquarters, 20 January 1946. Retained rank of Squadron Leader in postwar RCAF (19700). To No.10 Group Headquarters, 31 March 1947. To Station Greenwood, 1 April 1947. To Staff College, Toronto, 2 September 1948. To Air Transport Command, Rockcliffe, 27 June 1949. Air Transport Command, Lachine, 10 August 1951. Promoted Wing Commander, 1 September 1951. To No.408 Squadron, 2 October 1951. To No.1 Air Division, France, 16 April 1954. To AFHQ, 11 May 1957. To Syracuse, New York, 21 April 1960. To AFHQ, 1 Febriary 1961. Promoted Group Captain, 14 April 1961. To Moscow, 15 April 1961 (Air Attache). To AFHQ, 13 June 1964. Retired 17 February 1965. Award sent by registered mail 30 March 1949. Press Release said that postwar RCAF work included service with No.103 Rescue Unit. Awarded Queen's Coronation Medal, 23 October 1953 while with No.408 Squadron. RCAF photo PL-42181 (ex-UK-19041) dated 16 February 1945 in front of a building decorated appropriate for the Iroquois squadron. Photo PL-43448 (ex UK-20421 dated 14 April 1945) is captioned as follows: “Looking over the newly decorated restroom for combat crews in the RCAF’s Bomber Group Iroquois Squadron are, left to right, S/L Harold Smith, DFC, New Westminster, B.C., a flight commander who has just finished his tour, F/L G.L. Percival, pilot, hometown withheld at his request [this may be F/L G.L. Percival, DFC], Flight Sergeant C.H, Bourgon, NCO in charge of squadron discipline, Cornwall, Ontario, and F/L Bob Mickles, Toronto, squadron adjutant.” Photo PL-43450 (ex UK-20423 dated 14 April 1945) is captioned as follows: “Artwork by LAC Norman Houle, Coaticook, Quebec, decorates the rest room for combat crews of the Iroquois squadron in RCAF Bomber Group. Above the diminutive 19-year old artist touches up a large landscape. He is being admired by S/L Harold Smith, DFC of New Westminster, B.C., left, and W/C Bill McKinnon, Winnipeg.” Photo PL-57771 is portrait (June 1953). No citation other than "..in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations against the enemy." DHist file 181.009 D.5526 (RG.24 Vol.20667) has recommendation dated 10 September 1944 when he had flown 21 sorties (109 hours 30 minutes), 5 June to 25 August 1944. Deputy Flight Commander. DFC submission as follows: // This officer, a captain of an aircraft, has carried out 21 operational sorties over enemy territory and has attacked such heavily defended targets as Bremen, Stuttgart and Hamburg. Through his cheerfulness and excellent qualities of leadership, he has been an example which his flight has been able to look up to with pride and themselves endeavour to equal. // In recognition of the leadership and determined effort on his part to carry out all operational efforts no matter the difficulties together with the "esprit de corps" this officer has inculcated into all personnel directly under his command, I strongly recommend the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. // The sortie list was as follows: // 5 June 1944 - Houlgate (4.35, second pilot) // 6 June 1944 - Coutrances (4.20, second pilot) // 8 June 1944 - Le Mans (5.35) // 14 June 1944 - St. Paul (4.25) // 24 June 1944 - Bamieres (4.05) // 27 June 1944 - Foret de Nieppe (4.45) // 4 July 1944 - Villeneuve St. George (6.15) // 6 July 1944 - Siracourt (5.20) // 7 July 1944 - Caen (4.40) // 18 July 1944 - Caen (4.25) // 20 July 1944 - L’Hey (4.00) // 25 July 1944 - Stuttgart (9.25) // 28 July 1944 - Hamburg (5.55) // 3 August 1944 - Bois de Cassan (5.00) // 5 August 1944 - St. Leu d’Esserent (5.25) // 7 August 1944 - South Caen (4.50) // 8 August 1944 - Chantilly (5.20) // 9 August 1944 - Acquet (4.35) // 14 August 1944 - Falaise (4.10) // 18 August 1944 - Bremen (5.50) // 25 August 1944 - Brest (4.35).

NOTE: DHist file 181.009 D.5526 (R.24 Vol.20667) has recommendation for an AFC dated 25 January 1945 submitted by W/C R.F. Davenport. By then he had flown 29 sorties (156 hours five minutes), 5 June to 30 November 1944. AFC not approved but submission transcribed for the record. Additional sorties flown were: // 25 September 1944 - Calais (3.50) // 4 October 1944 - Bergen (6.55) // 14 October 1944 - Duisburg (5.35) // 6 December 1944 - Osnabruck (6.55) // 16 November 1944 - Julich (5.35) // 30 November 1944 - Duisburg (7.00) // 24 December 1944 - Dusseldorf (6.15) // 5 January 1945 - Hanover (6.10) // This officer, a pilot, has shown himself to be an outstanding aircraft captain. Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross he has vigorously applied himself in his job of Flight Commander. A natural leader, Squadron Leader Smith has given unstintingly of his time and energy to the training of new and younger crews. The outstanding success of his flight is a tribute to his organizing ability and untiring efforts. He has undertaken more than the role of Flight Commander, being looked upon by the whole squadron with respect as a guide and confidante. // In recognition of this officer’s resourcefulness and contributions to the technical efficiency of his squadron, I strongly recommend that he be awarded the Air Force Cross. // Notes: Assessed while instructing at No.15 (Pilots) AFU, 5 June 1943 when he had flown 1,070 hours (370 in past six months). “A loyal officer with a well developed sense of responsibility. A cheerful, pleasant personality. Lacks confidence in himself at present, and leadership is undeveloped. Hard work has resulted in good progress, but he has not risen above his contemporary officers due to a lack of forcefulness of character. A reliable officer who may develop well with more responsibility and experience.” (W/C M. Robinson). // Assessed while instructing at No.15 (Pilots) AFU, 2 February 1944, when he had flown 1,363 hours (190 in past six month). “Loyal and tactful, with a quiet power of command, which is quite effective. This officer’s conduct has been first class, and he has reacted well to the responsibility, which he has recently been given. His early service was rather colourless, but he has made excellent progress in the past 6-9 months.” (W/C M. Robinson). // Application for Operational Wing dated 24 April 1945 claimed 35 sorties (199 hours 20 minutes), 3 June 1944 to 7 April 1945. // A summary of his flying to 31 December 1956 lists the following types and times - Lancaster (545 hours five minutes), Canso (231.25), Otter (32.10), Norseman (26.55), Dakota (162.00), North Star (32.40), Halifax (104.10), Wellington (94.15), Ventura (13.00), S-51 (2.00), Beechcraft (74.15), Oxford (1,140.10), Anson (119.15), Majister (38.05), Tiger Moth (63.10) and T-33 (4.20). // Training: Interviewed in Vancouver, 3 December 1940. “A fine, clean cut young man of good presence and personality. Keen, aggressive, intelligent and conscientious. Has brother has armament officer with eleven years experience. He should take a refresher course in Maths, Physics and English, and with these complete should make a very good pilot. Used to robust sports and likes them.” // Attended No.4 ITS, 15 July to 16 August 1941. Courses in Mathematics (73/100), Armament, practical and oral (93/100), Signals (98/100), Hygiene and Sanitation (32/40), Drill (83/100) and Law and Discipline (54/60). Scored 74 percent in Visual Link. Placed 34th in a class of 243. “Mechanic and chauffeur. Average type trainee. Slightly impatient. Good spirit. Good NCO material.” // Attended No.18 EFTS, 20 August to 10 October 1941. Tiger Moth aircraft - 34 hours ten minutes dual, 29.00 solo. Was 7.25 on instruments. Logged ten hours in Link. “A student of good average ability who is very keen on flying. Aggressive and tries hard to better himself. Has no outstanding faults and with his attitude should improve greatly.” Ground school courses in Airmanship (160/200), Airframes (76/100), Aero Engines (78/100), Signals (74/100), Theory of Flight (79/100), Air Navigation (169/200 ) and Armament, oral (174/200). Assessed 106/200 on Qualities as an Officer. Placed fifth in a class of 65. “Good average student. Real keen to learn. Conduct and attitude 100 percent. Should do very well at Service.” // Attended No.15 SFTS, 13 October 1941 to 2 January 1942. Anson aircraft - 44.05 day dual, 56.55 day solo, 2.10 night dual, 10.00 night solo. Was 19.25 on instruments. Logged 20 hours in Link. “Steady reliable pilot who has progressed well. Strongly recommend flying boats or multi-engined aircraft.” Ground courses in Airmanship and Maintenance (161/200) Armament, written (81/100), Armament, practical (89/100), Navigation and Meteorology (170/200), Signals, written (48/50), Signals, practical (90/100). “Above average, hard worker, clever, quiet type.” Placed third in a class of 49. // Attended No.2 Flying Instructor School, 4 April to 3 June 1942. Magister aircraft (10.50 day dual, 27.15 day solo) and Oxford (24.00 day dual, 63.00 day solo, 2.10 night dual, 5.00 night solo). Ground courses in Theory of Flight (87 percent), Navigation (83 percent), Airmanship (80 percent) and Technical Subjects (75 percent). “A keen and hard working pilot whose results were above the average.” (S/L S.G. Betty). The Chief Flying Instructor wrote, “Has worked very hard at his patter and got a good knowledge of the sequence of instruction. His flying could however be a little more polished and with more flying experience will make a very useful instructor.” Graded “B” multi-engine. // RCAF Press Release No. 1301 dated 6 December 1944 from Sergeant John Badger, New Westminster, reads: // WITH RCAF BOMBER GROUP IN BRITAIN: - The Iroquois Squadron Lancaster was homebound after bombing Osnabruck, and to the JU.88 pilot trailing it in the clouds, the unwieldy-looking giant seemed like easy revenge. At last, he manoeuvred into position and sped in to the attack from one side of the Canadian-built aircraft. // Immediately, the big machine dipped a wing and its nose in a corkscrewing movement of surprising agility. It was not for nothing that the pilot, Squadron Leader Harold Smith of New Westminster, B.C., commanded a flight of Iroquois aircrews. // At the same time, the tail gunner, Pilot Officer Gus Supergia of Regina (2165 Francis Street), sent a long burst of tracers riveting into the heavily armed night fighter. It never had a chance to fire. As Supergia gave it three more bursts, his mate in the mid-upper turret rotated his guns into position and contributed two short bursts. Both gunners saw strikes rattling on the Junkers. // A spot of fire, showed on one of its twin engines, spread swiftly. The Nazi sheered away in a dive, well aflame. Since it disappeared into thick cloud below, it has only been claimed as “probably destroyed”.

INFO ON THE SQUADRON: https://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/bomber-command/bomber-command-no-431-iroquois-squadron/