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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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138 Squadron Crest
26/27.02.1945 138 Squadron Stirling IV LK272 NF:P Flt.Lt. Peter B. Cornwallis

Operation: Operation Crupper 37 (SOE (Special Operations Executive))

Date: 26th/27th February 1945 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: 138 Squadron

Type: Stirling IV

Serial: LK272 (1)

Code: NF:P

Base: RAF Tempsford

Location: North Sea off Norway

Pilot: Flt.Lt. Peter Brownell Cornwallis 158704 RAFVR Age 24. Missing

Flt.Eng: Fg.Off. Leonard John Gornall DFC 52164 RAFVR Age 23. Missing (2)

Nav: Plt.Off. Stanley Arthur Pepworth DFM 184794 RAFVR Age 28. Missing

Air Bmr: Fg.Off. 'Jack' John Edward Stanton 422617 RAAF Age 28. Missing

WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Brian Douglas Tovey 29856 RAAF Age 25. Missing

Air Gnr: Flt.Sgt. Stuart Samuel Hagerty R211936 RCAF Age 21. Missing

Air Gnr: Sgt. John Edwin Cory 1538889 RAFVR Age 23. Missing

REASON FOR LOSS:

10 Stirlings from 138 Squadron took off from RAF Kempsford at 19:39 hrs on operation Crupper 37 for destinations in Norway and Denmark. The Squadron Operational Record Book (ORB) records that LK272 was carrying 4 Agents, 11 containers and 9 packages to be dropped over Norway.

Fg.Off. Shaw aboard NF:B (Operation Thrush Red 2) witnessed an aircraft engaged by flak, and sent crashing into the sea off the Norwegian coast. As LK272 failed to return Flt.Lt. Cornwallis and his crew were posted as missing presumed killed. This was later confirmed, and the four agents on board also lost their lives. The crew had served with 138 Sqn for 6 months at the time of their deaths. (RAF Bomber command profiles, 138 Sqn by Chris Ward)

According to the Australian Archives they were detailed to drop “containers” in Norway, 3 km. north of Fliniseter and 23 km. south east of Torp.

The following is a translation of a German Army Command Norway activity report dated 26th February 1945

9.57 to 01.15 hours - Entry of many hostile aircraft.
Airplanes from SW into the area around Oslo, on the trip 20 km SW Kristiansand shooting down 1 enemy aircraft, probably by ship flak. During flights suspicion of agent supply.
23.14 to 01.25 hours - Entry of 4 enemy aircraft into the area eastwards of Stavanger, no bomb dropping.

(Courtesy of Terje Dønnestad via Tormod Christiansen from Kristiansand)

It is possible that these entries refer to the shooting down of LK272 and transit of the four Stirlings en route to Norway.

It was known that a couple of hours earlier, very close to this position, the German freighter "Arsterturm" was sunk by 489 Sqn RNZAF Beaufighter T.FX, NE803, P6:M flown by Fg.Off. E.P.Taylor and Fg.Off. H.J.Webb. The result of the torpedo hit was described like this "...a tremendous explosion flinging flaming debris into the air ". The ship went down very fast.

It is possible that LK272 happened to fly right over the site were "Arsterturm" went down a few hours earlier and where most likely a search and rescue operation was still going on. This was the night before a full moon and a low flying Stirling would have been an easy target for the German AA gunners on board the ships who at this stage of the war were fighting Beaufighters, Mosquitos and Mustangs almost daily.

Equally possible was that there was a random meeting between LK272 and a passing ship.

(Courtesy of Terje Dønnestad)


(1) The aircraft had been manufactured by Short and Harland between September 1944 - October 1944. Delivered to 138 Sqn on the 2nd October 1944.

(2) Fg.Off. Gornall had survived an earlier crash on 11th April 1942. Whilst with 15 Sqn oboard Stirling N3703 LS:Q which crashed on return from an operation to Essen. 2 of the crew were killed, 6 others survived (3 of these survivors were sadly later killed on operations later during the war). Fg.Off. Gornall also survived the loss of 138 Sqn., Halifax II LW275 NF:O on the 7th February 1944 and along with the rest of the crew evaded via Spain & Gibraltar on the 5th May 1944 and returned to Tempsford on the 10th September 1944.

Burial details:

Flt.Lt. Peter Brownell Cornwallis. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 265. Son of Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, GCMG. CBE. DSO., and Gertrude Cornwallis (née Bowen), of North Warnborough, Hampshire, husband of Babette Johanna Cornwallis, of Chelsea, London, England.

Photograph left shows his father. Details - The Coronation of Emir (Prince) Faisal I as King of Iraq on 23 of August 1921. Emir Faisal has already served as King of Syria from March to July. The event was conducted, at 06.00 hrs in the court-yard of the Ottoman built Serai, his temporary headquarters upon arriving in Baghdad. behind the King to the left is Sir Percy Cox, British High Commissioner, Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, Tahsin Qadri, the King’s ADC, King Faisal, Sir Aylmer Haldane, British commanding officer.

Fg.Off. Leonard John Gornall DFC. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 267. Son of Charles and Sarah Elizabeth Gornall, of Birkenhead, Cheshire, England.


DFC was awarded to Fg.Off. Gornall whilst serving with 138 Sqn, gazetted 15th September 1944. Citation reads: "This officer has completed a large number of sorties. He is an extremely keen and enthusiastic flight engineer and has at all times displayed the greatest determination. He has imparted much of his technical knowledge to other members of the squadron with good results."

Plt.Off. Stanley Arthur Pepworth. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 268. Born 6th January 1917. Son of Arthur William and Dorothy Imogen (née Teale) Pepworth. Husband to Joan Rosina (née Spurling) Pepworth of Ealing Central, England.

DFM awarded to 1313523 Flt.Sgt. Pepworth whilst with 106 Sqn, Gazetted 15th October 1943

Fg.Off. 'Jack' John Edward Stanton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 283. Born on the 15th January 1917 in North Sydney New South WalesSon of Mr. Percy Ambrose and Mrs. Edith Marie Stanton (née Williams, formerly from Wales), of 2 Sunshine Flats, 225 Pittwater Road, Manly, New South Wales, Australia.

Prior to enlisting on the 23rd December 1941 he worked as a salesman for Woolworths, The Corso, Manly, Australia. He was a member of the Freshwater SLSC (Surf Life Laving Club)

WO. Brian Douglas Tovey. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 284. Born 29th August 1919. Son of Joseph John Tovey, and of Gertrude Tovey, of 23 Guildford Road, Bayswater, Western Australia.

Enlisted on 10th February 1941 as a trainee fitter after initially being turned down to join the RAAF in June 1940 - no vacancies. Transferred to aircrew February 1942. Prior to enlisting was working as a boiler attendant at the Spencers Gold Mine, Meekatharra, Australia and also the Westernern Australia Meat Export Company.

Flt.Sgt. Stuart Samuel Hagerty. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 282. Born on the 25th October 1923, Red Deer, Alberta. Son of James Wellington and Margaret Jane (née Huff) Hagerty of Claresholm, Alberta, Canada.

Sgt. John Edwin Cory. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 274. Son of Percy William and Elizabeth Margaret Cory, of Herne Bay, Kent, England.

Researched for Lisa Lipman from Australia, currently living in Norway - Fg.Off. Stanton was a relative living in Manly, New South Wales, Australia. Page is dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Details and narrative updated by Aircrew Remembered. Thanks to Terje Dønnestad and Tormod Christiansen from Kristiansand for their contribution in trying to solve the loss of the aircraft.

RS 13.08.2020 - Inclusion of information for the possible loss of a/c

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Acknowledgements
Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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