Mission: Aachen

Date: 13/14th July 1943

Unit: No. 90 Squadron

Type: Stirling III

Serial: EE873

Coded: WP-D

Location: Rotem (Limburg - Belgium)

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Cyril Ernest Coombs 144181 R.A.F.V.R. Age; 22, Killed

Co/pilot: P/O. Ernest Candy 149523 R.A.F.V.R. Age; 32, Killed

Flt/Eng: Sgt. John Olav Bradshaw 1474536 R.A.F.V.R. Killed

Air/Bomber: F/O. Paul Douglas Swallow 127306 R.A.F.V.R. Age; 23, Killed

Air/Bomber: Sgt. William Gordon Dawson 1501161 R.A.F.V.R. Age; 21, Killed

W/Op/A/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Alexander Long 1332091 R.A.F.V.R. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Robert Clarke 1002829 R.A.F.V.R. Age; 25 Survived and evaded capture. (P.R.O. Kew record No: 3314. File:1401)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Eric Bradley Potter 1585887 R.A.F.V.R. Killed

We would like to appeal for any relatives to contact us on behalf of the people who have erected this superb memorial and bench to this crew.


Took off at 23.46hrs from West Wickam. One report shows that on the outbound portion of the flight was shot down by Oblt Wilhelm Telge of II./NJG1 at a heght of 4,000 mtrs. and crashed at 01.40 hrs at Rotem, midway between Dilsen and Elen, Belgium and within a few kilometres of the frontier with Holland. Those who were killed were originally buried at St. Truiden but after the war ended were exhumed and taken to Heverlee War Cemetery.
Further investigations show that Hptm. Heinrich Wohlers (16 victories) Stab IV./NJG4 - det. 3./NJG-1 claimed this loss.

Coombs memorial2

Coombs memorial1
Hptm. Heinrich Wohlers

bob clarke 90 squadron
Sgt. Robert Clarke Escaped capture

Bob Clarke escaped after being found in a field by a Belgian and taken to his home where he rested and recovered for several days. False papers were arranged and he moved from "safe" house to "safe" house for a a couple more weeks. Eventually he started his amazing trip back home with the assistance of many of the brave resistance fighters. His trip took him into Paris, onto Bordeaux Dax where he joined up with a Russian tank officer and two others who had escaped the Germans. Eventually he made it to Gibralter and finally to the UK on September 12th 1943. (Escape information from "The Comet Line" Belgium - we hope to be working more with the website describing this and many other escapes)


90 Squadron history:

Soon after the outbreak of war No. 90 ceased to be a first-line unit and assumed the role of a Group pool squadron or, in other words, became a training squadron. In April 1940, it was absorbed into. No.17 OTU but in May 1941, it re-formed, having been selected as the RAF squadron to receive the first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft from America. Its role was now high-altitude day bombing and it flew its first operational mission with Fortresses on 8th July 1941, when Wilhelmshaven was attacked from 30,000 feet. It continued to operate its Fortresses over Europe - albeit with little success - until September 1941, and, later, had a detachment operating in the Middle East.
The squadron was again disbanded in February 1942, but re-formed in November 1942, as a heavy-bomber squadron equipped with Stirlings, and subsequently made a significant contribution to the Battle of the Ruhr, the devastation of Hamburg and the famous raid on Peenemunde. It also did a great deal of minelaying. In May/June 1944, No. 90 exchanged its Stirlings for Lancasters and with these continued to play a prominent part in Bomber Command's offensive until late April 1945.
Between 8/9th January 1943 (when it began operations with Stirlings) and 22nd April 1945, members of No. 90 Squadron earned 6 DSOs 123 DFCs, one bar to a DFC, 1 CGM, 1 AFC and 33 DFMs.

Heverlee War Cemetery

Burial details:
Fl/Lt. Cyril Ernest Coombs. Haverlee War Cemetery Grave 5.A.8.
Son of Arthur Frederick and Florence Mary Coombs, of Liss, Hampshire.

P/O. Ernest Candy. Haverlee War Cemetery Grave 5.A.9.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Candy; husband of Isabel P. Candy, of Holloway, Bath, Somerset.

Sgt. John Olav Bradshaw. Haverlee War Cemetery Grave 5.A.14.
No further details known to date.

F/O. Paul Douglas Swallow. Haverlee War Cemetery Grave 5.A.14.
Son of Frank and Elsie Swallow, of Netherton, Huddersfield.

Sgt. William Gordon Dawson. Haverlee War Cemetery Grave 5.A.11.
Son of Robert and Edith Mary Dawson, of Lemington, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

Sgt. Charles Alexander Long. Haverlee War Cemetery Grave 5.A.12.
No further details known to date.

Sgt. Eric Bradley Potter. Haverlee War Cemetery Grave 5.A.13.
No further details known to date.

With thanks to the following: Bill Chorley - "Bomber Command Losses Vol 3", Theo Boiten - "German Nightfighter War Diaries Vol 2", Martin Middlebrook "Bomber Command War Diaries". The C.W.G.C.
(Further information supplied by Mike Harrison)