RAF 90 Squadron - Lancaster Mk3 WP-A identification

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by WayneC, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. WayneC

    WayneC Member

    My father, Leslie "Les" Cornelius (1921-2004), RAFVR was a navigator in 90 Squadron RAF, A Flight, chiefly in Lancaster Mk3 WP-A "Kamloops Special" but on occasions, in other Lancaster aircraft in 1944 (eg.WP-G 5 & 24 July, WP-L 10 July, WP-D 17 July, WP-B 20 July & 9 Aug 44, WP-H 8 Aug, WP-F 16 Aug, WP-C 7 Oct).

    WP-A "Kamloops Special" along with the all crew (see photo at http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/8058-only-post-lancaster-pictures-here/page-7#entry663763 ) survived their tour of ops in 90 squadron from 5 July 1944 to 14 October 1944. However, WP-A "Kamloops Special" was damaged by flak on a number of occasions (12 July 44 - rear turret & starboard mainplane holed, 3 Oct 44 - starboard tailplane, 7 Oct 44 - heavy flak damage) and, dependening on the status of running repairs, it could have been scrapped shortly after their tour of ops.

    I note a Lancaster Mk3 HK605 WP-A of 90 squadron is purported to have been lost on a Keil night raid on 26 August 1944 ( refer http://www.lostaircraft.com/database.php?lang=en&mode=viewentry&e=3521# and an aircaft with the same call sign and serial number was also purported lost on 12 September 1944 raid on Frankfurt (refer: http://forum.keypublishing.com/archive/index.php/t-77288.html ). I have no doubt that the unfortunate crews were killed, but I am confused as to what aircraft they were in.

    I have three questions:

    1. Can anyone explain this WP-A triple identification mystery?

    2. What was the serial number of Lancaster Mk3 "Kamloops Special", WP-A in A flight?

    3. What were the call signs and serial numbers of the two lost aircraft?


    In some notes that Les Cornelius wrote in 1998 he observes (the initial paragraph refers to his first crew at 16 OTU - refer http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/10826-loss-of-lancaster-me757-ws-o-9-sqn-13-aug-44/page-2#entry663650 ):

    “.... It was decided that that the crew relationship and morale was not ideal so it would be better to separate us and start afresh. I was sent to another OTU. So after nearly three months of OTU training at Upper Heyford we went our various ways. I was posted to No 12 OTU where I crewed up again, this time with two Canadians in the crew the pilot and a mid-upper gunner. The pilot was only 20 years old but impressed me. Actually I didn’t have to go through the usual crewing up procedure as I had a partially trained crew waiting for a navigator. Somehow the previous navigator left the original crew and I never found out why.

    Although I didn’t know it then, it was a most fortunate occurrence for not only me but the rest of the crew. We immediately established great relationship with each other as we were all sergeants and four of us were Londoners. The result of this episode was not immediately apparent to us at the time but it meant that had we kept the original crew we would have been involved in unceasing raids on Berlin which finally finished in March 1944. So as it happened we never were on the Battle order for Berlin.

    After finishing our training at OTU we were trained on Stirling aircraft and were finally posted to Tuddenham, Suffolk, not far from Cambridge. When we arrived we were sworn to secrecy and told that although ostensibly we were in Bomber Command actually we would be on secret operations flying resistance agents and equipment into France involving flights at 1000 ft or lower. We weren’t keen about this proposal as it would mean further low level flying and map reading by moonlight.

    We started training again for about a fortnight and then to our amazement we were informed that the squadron would revert to normal bombing with Bomber Command and would be flying brand new Lancaster aircraft straight from the factory. We were allocated aircraft WP A for ABLE which was promptly named the “KAMLOOPS SPECIAL” by our pilot being the town in Canada where he lived. A for ABLE was equipped with the latest electronic equipment GEE radar so we were quite pleased with the final result of the changes. We had never been required to fly to the heavily defended Berlin. We had a great crew, dependable and dedicated.

    The Lancaster Mark 3 was a great aircraft to fly and we were lucky enough to fly 32
    operational flights together .....".


    WP-A Pilot, Alan Shepherd and most of the crew flew on 31 ops with 90 squadron (for unknown reasons their rear gunner, Bob Adams only flew 26 ops in 90 squadron). Les Cornelius flew an extra mission on a midday raid to the German night fighter base at St Trond as a seconded navigator to a crew piloted by F/O Jennings in WP-W on 20 August 1944. Of that mission Les wrote: “This was an extra operation for me as seconded navigator flying in WP-W with F/O Jennings and the rest of his crew. I wasn’t very happy with this arrangement. My own crew were wondering if they would ever see me again.".

    F/O Jennings and his crew survived their tour with 90 squadron. Les then flew another 32 ops in Burma with 238 RAF Transport Squadron flying Dakotas before arriving and the settling in Australia in July 1945.

    Flight Sergeant Robert “Bob” Arthur Adams RAF, born 9th September 1921, was eventually posted to 695 squadron RAF that provided target towing services for artillery. Both Bob and his pilot W/O Aaron Patrick Underwood, RAAF from Mannum, South Australia, were killed in a flying accident on the 20th May 1945 near Yarmouth, England shortly after completing a target towing sortie.

    Except for Bob, all of the crew survived the war and had a reunion at Tuddenham, England in 1987.

    Re. my WP-A identification mystery, I attach two photos of Les' log book for the relevant period in August and September 1944. Also photo of pilot Alan Shepherd RCAF receiving his DFM (in Vancouver, sometime 1946 I believe).

    Attached Files:

  2. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    The aircraft lost on the Kiel raid of 26th Aug 44 was HK604 WP-G.
    WP-A was PB196

    Although favouring PB196 on many occasions, your fathers crew also flew on board...
    ME802, S
    LM159, H
    LM615, B
    ME862, W
    LM588, F.
  3. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Looking through '3 Group Bomber Command' - C. Ward & S. Smith it seems that 90 Squadron had three other aircraft with the Squadron/ Code letters WP-A

    Serial HK605 Failed to return Frankfurt 12/13 September 1944
    Serial N149 Failed to return Dreux 10/11 June 1944
    Serial PD430 No further details
  4. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    90sqdn HK605, lost on 12/13th Sept was coded XY-A, not WP-A as wrongly recorded by Chorley and any other sources that have the same mistake. "C" Flight 90sqdn, of which HK605 was a part, had the XY code.
    PB196 WP-A also flew on this op
  5. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the correction Allan. It seems that if a mistake is made in a publication it follows down the line to others
  6. WayneC

    WayneC Member

    Thank you all for solving this mystery & particularly AlanW for your definitive answer.

    I conclude that the two lost aircraft were HK 604 WP-G, HK 605 XY-A while my father flew in PB196 WP-A.

    Looking at http://www.bomber-command.info/serialslancaster.htm I gather that the HK serial numbers were both Mark 1 Lancasters and that PB196 was a Mk3. My fathers log book confirms that WP-A is a Mark 3 and WP-G is a Mark 1 as were also WP-C, H, L, & S. Of the other Lancs he flew in (not all ops) WP-B, D, E, F & W were Mark 3.

    I note that Lancaster Mk3 PB196 JE-D from 195 squadron was shot down by a FW190 on 12 Dec 1944, all killed, in an op to Witten. Presumably, PB196 was transferred to 195 squadron some time after its last WP-A op 14 October 1944 to Duisberg (my fathers last op in 90 sqdn). This timeline fits very well 195 sqdn reforming as a Bomber Command sqdn in October 1944 (refer http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/bombercommandno195squadron.cfm & http://www.wcnhistory.org.uk/sqn195.html ).

    90 squadron did lose a number of aircraft bearing the WP-A markings. However those losses were never concurrent with my father flying in WP-A PB196.
    I guess it's similar to car number plates - I very much doubt that any airforce would have aircraft with the same call signs existing at the same time. Those lost WP-A were the Short Stirlings BK 693 (27 July 1943) & EH944 (22 Sept 1943) and Avro Lancasters Mk 1 PA254 (9 Mar 1944) & Mk3 NE149 (10 June 1944).
  7. AlanW

    AlanW Senior Member

    PB196 first flight with 195sqdn, was on 4th Dec 44 to Oberhausen.
    6th Dec to Merseburg.
    8th Dec to Duisburg.
    11th Dec to Osterfeld.
    12th Dec to Witten.
  8. Mike lee

    Mike lee New Member

    Wayne I am Frank Lee's son Mike feel free to contact me at Barbara.m
  9. Mike lee

    Mike lee New Member

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