Gilbert B. Cornwell (1944/06/21)

The English had a special honor for "Corni" seven years after his B-24 departed.

Gilbert Brewster Cornwell was born in Santa Cruz County, California, on December 3, 1923. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cornwell, lived in the community of Soquel where he and his sister Nan were raised. Brewster, or "Corni" as family and friends knew him, attended the local grammar school before entering Mission Hill Junior High School. In 1939, Brewster Cornwell enrolled in Santa Cruz High School, where he specialized in a trade-industrial program and was active in the Machine Shop Club.

After his graduation in 1942, Corni relocated to San Jose where the Anderson Barngrover Food Machinery Company employed him as a machinist making regulators for submarines.

Gilbert B. Cornwell was inducted into the US Army on January 23, 1943, and assigned to the Air Force. After completing basic training and attending aerial gunnery school in Laredo, Texas, he was promoted to private first class. A radio operator school in Sioux Falls, Iowa, and a combat school in Phoenix, Arizona, followed.

In late 1943, Brewster was sent to England to join the 445th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force as a B-24 Liberator gunner. While serving with the 445th, Cornwell was promoted to sergeant, and assigned to the 701st Bomber Squadron stationed at Tibenham, England. His squadron flew a variety of missions from bombing fighter production facilities, railroad-marshalling yards, oil refineries, harbor facilities and airfields, to delivering ordinance, fuel and supplies to ground troops.

On June 21, 1944, while returning from bombing oil refineries in Romania, Brewster Cornwell's plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Germany. His crippled B-24 was able to make it back across the channel before crashing near Beccles, England. Sergeant Gilbert Brewster Cornwell did not survive that crash and his remains were interred in the Cambridge American Cemetery in Cambridge, England.

In 1951 his sister Nan, along with other American family survivors, were guests of the British government who honored Brewster and the other Americans who died in their defense.

(ABMC; NARA2; SCHSC Pg. 8, 445th Bomb Group, Unit History,, [16 September 2008] SCSn July 7, 1944 1:1, SCR July 14, 1944 -1; The Remembrance of Nan [Cornwell] Tunison, 29 September 2008)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1940s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art and History.
Identifier: RO-CORNWELL


Nelson, Robert L. “Gilbert B. Cornwell (1944/06/21).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.