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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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No. 58 Squadron Crest
24.09.1940 No. 58 Squadron Whitley V N1470 GE-J Sgt. Herbert Cornish

Operation: Berlin

Date: 24 September 1940 (Tuesday)

Unit: 58 Squadron - Motto: "Alis nocturnis" ("On the wings of the night").

Badge: On a branch an owl. By the authority of King George VI, September 1937.

Type: Whitley V

Serial: N1470

Code: GE-J

Base: RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Riding of Yorkshire

Location: Youlton, Hambleton, North Riding of Yorkshire.

Pilot: Sgt. Herbert Cornish 580050 RAF Age 24 - Killed

2nd Pilot: P/O. Arnold Irwin Watterson RAF (Canada) 41638 RAF Age 23 - Killed

Obs: Sgt. Leslie Hambleton Taylor 581192 RAF Age 19 - Killed

W/Op: Sgt. Robert William (Bob) Fowlie MiD 568834 RAF - Injured

Air/Gnr: Sgt.John William Chamberlain 651713 RAF - Injured


Took off at 20:59 on a mission to bomb Berlin. The aircraft failed to become properly airborne and crashed just beyond the airfield's northern boundary at Youlton just before 21:00 hours. A fire broke out and this led to the bomb load exploding.

In October 2019 Aircrew Remembered was contacted by Alex Fowlie who kindly provided the following information as recounted to him by his father, wireless operator Sgt. Bob Fowlie.

Immediately following the crash on 24 September 1940, he crawled down the fuselage, on fire, released the tail gunner and told him to run. As he climbed out of the aircraft he realised the plane was in front of a farm house. He evacuated the ocupants and sheltered them in a ditch, before the plane blew up. For his actions that night, he was Mentioned in Despatches as promulgated in the London Gazette of 17 March 1941.

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(1) Sgt. Herbert Cornish was born in 1916 at Wigan Lancashire the son of Henry William Cornish and Margaret Cornish nee Daniels.

(2) F/O. Arnold Irwin Watterson was born 7 February 1917 the son of Mr and Mrs E J Watterson of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He enlisted in the RAF 21 October 1938.

Acting Pilot Officer on probation graded as Pilot Officer on probation with effect from 3 September 1939 (London Gazette 10 October 1939). He was confirmed in this appointment with effect from 21 October 1939 with seniority of 31 October 1939 (London Gazette 14 November 1939) and promoted to Flying Officer with effect from 3 September 1940 (London Gazette 12 November 1940

The above newspaper photograph and editorials from the Ottawa Citizen - Courtesy David Archer -Operation Picture Me

(3) Sgt. Leslie Hambleton Taylor was born 24 April 1921 son of Harold Arthur and Phillis Taylor, of Whatton-in-the-Vale. His father was a Curtain Manufacturer and the family lived at 113 Selby Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham.

Leslie Taylor was admitted to Nottingham High School on 20 January 1936 aged 14 and left on 15 November 1937. He was a member of the Officer Training Corps and passed the OTC Certificate A in 1937. (Courtesy Nottingham High School Archives)

He is commemorated on the Nottingham High School War Memorial and on the War Memorial at the Parish Church of Saint John of Beverley, Whatton-in-the-Vale, Nottinghamshire.

(4) Sgt. Robert William (Bob) Fowlie MiD was born on 4 May 1920 at St Machar, Aberdeen Scotland.

He joined the RAF as a Boy Apprentice in January 1935, at RAF Cranwell and served his apprenticeship in the trades allied to aircrew. He always had a bent for radios and communication and by 1939 he was fully operational air crew as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

In the early days of the war he was forward based at Rheims in France taking part in leaflet raids. On the night of 11 September 1939 and little more than a week after the declaration of war he was a member of the crew of Armstrong Whitworth Whitley B.Mk.II K8965 of 58 Squadron which crashed shortly after take off (at 00:55 hours local time) from Reims-Champagne Airbase. While climbing, the aircraft went out of control and crashed in flames. All five occupants were slightly injured (cuts and bruises) while the aircraft was destroyed. They had to smash the Perspex to get a trapped crew member out of the burning wreckage. The crew was: - Pilot: Sergeant A. G. E. Dixon, 2nd Pilot: Flying Officer B. W. Curries, Observer: Sergeant J. S. Cameron, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner: AC.1 R. W. Fowlie and Wreless Operator/Air Gunner: AC.1 J. Thomas.

58 squadron was then attached to coastal command, from October 1939 to February 1940. This was the time, from conversations, that he liked the best of his operational service. After returning to main operational duties, he took part in many bombing raids deep into Germany and Italy, got away with a few crash landings after running out of fuel or mechanical issues, one on a Q site in Wales.

After his recovering from the burns sustained on 24 September 1940 he was psted to 19 Operational Training Unit at Kinloss acting as a communication officer on pilot training. He later went on to build celestial navigation trainers for the American Airforce in Nassau in the Bahamas. He also installed air base communication systems in Italy. He left the RAF in 1951.

In 1953 he married June M. Lea at Stourbridge, West Midlands with whom he had four children.

He died on 15 April 2008 aged 87. His obituary reads:

FOWLIE ROBERT WILSON (Bob) of Blackberry Lane Halesowen Passed away on April 15th 2008 aged 87 years. Sadly missed by wife June, Children Andrew, Alistair, Alexander and Alison, Grandchildren Natasha, James, Ben, Daniel, John, Amy, Alexander and Great Grandson Brooklyn. Funeral service at Stourbridge Crematorium on Monday 28th April at 10.20am.

Biographical details of Robert William Fowlie kindly provided by Alex Fowlie.

(5) Sgt.John William Chamberlain was the son of Caroline Chamberlain, of Croydon, Surrey.

He was killed on 23 December 1940 whilst a crew member of Whitley V T4159 when the aircraft crashed into the sea of Torbay. His bodywas not recovered and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 12. To read our Archive Report of this loss see


Sgt. Herbert Cornish was buried at St. Wilfrid's Churchyard, Standish, Wigan, Lancashire. New Ground. Grave 177

P/O. Arnold Irwin Watterson was cremated at Harrogate Crematorium, North Riding of Yorkshire

Sgt. Leslie Hambleton Taylor was buried at Nottingham (Southern) Cemetery - Section H.17. Grave 66

Left: Commemorative plaque at Harrogate Crematorium showing the name of F/O. A.I. Watterson

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Nottingham High School and all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - June 2016

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 14.06.2016

RW 24.10.2019 Additional information re Sgt. Fowlie aded courtesy Alex Fowlie.

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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', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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