Sergeant Colin Albert CORNWELL

Service No: 402731
Born: Randwick NSW, 27 January 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 October 1940
Unit: No. 158 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Driffield
Died: Air Operations (No. 158 Squadron Wellington aircraft W5431), Yorkshire, 10 March 1942, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Driffield Cemetery, Yorkshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Albert Edward and Hilda Evelyn Comwell, of Narrabeen, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Warringah NSW
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Baulkham Hills – World War 2 and Vietnam Memorial, Baulkham Hills NSW
Remembered: William Thompson Masonic Schools, Baulkham Hills NSW

At 1934 hours on the night of 9 March 1942 Wellington W5431 took off from Driffield detailed to bomb Essen, Germany. The aircraft crashed at 0250 hours on return to base. Four of the crew members were killed and Sergeant Clarke, the Rear Gunner, one was injured. As the aircraft was coming in to land with full DREM system, the aircraft overshot. The Pilot opened up his throttles but the aircraft appeared to stall, drop the port wing and burst into flames when it hit the ground. Evidence from the Rear Gunner suggested that the aircraft was probably seriously damaged from enemy fire. The Rear Gunner owed his life to Corporal W J Hughes, who without regard to his own safety, smashed his way into the rear fuselage and dragged Sergeant Clarke to safety. In recognition of this courageous act, an entry appeared in the Notable War Services despatch issued on 11 May 1942.

The crew members of W5431 were:

Sergeant Leslie James Caldwell (1166513) (RAFVR) (Second Wireless Operator)
Pilot Officer Douglas Albert Edward Clarke (115725) (RAFVR) (Observer)
Sergeant E W Clarke (1260120) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) Rescued, injured
Sergeant Colin Albert Cornwell (402731) (Second Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant George Gordon Duff DFC (89378) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Sergeant Harry James Evans (1051922) (RAFVR) (First Wireless Operator)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/98/456
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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