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 Post subject: RAAF Hudson A16-126
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:44 am 
No remains at WWII bomber crash site

A thorough search of the wreckage of an RAAF Lockheed Hudson bomber shot down in World War Two in Papua New Guinea has uncovered identity tags but no trace of the crew members.

A RAAF investigation team of nine personnel spent a week at the wreck site on an isolated mountain ridge inland from Gasmata Harbour on the PNG island of New Britain.

"No human remains were found," Defence Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon said in a statement.

"The harsh climate and passage of time meant the prospect of locating remains was slim, but Air Force has made every effort to account for these airmen who gave their lives protecting Australia."

The search team did locate a number of personal and military artefacts such as dog tags, watches, pocket knives and an engraved pen, which will be returned to the airmen's relatives.

The aircraft - A16-126 - was shot down by Japanese fighters in a raid on shipping in Gasmata Harbour on February 11, 1942.

Lost were Flying Officer Graham Gibson, Pilot Officer Frank Thorn, Sergeant Barton Coutie and Sergeant Arthur Quail.

The Hudson bomber was originally located by local missionary Mark Reichman in May on the advice of local villagers.

An Air Force reconnaissance team officially confirmed the wreck was A16-126 in June.

The RAAF investigation team deployed to the crash site by helicopter on October 4, dividing the wreckage and surrounding area into grid squares and conducting a detailed search.

The families of the four crew members had been advised of the results of the search, Mr Snowdon said.

http://news.smh.com.au/national/no-rema ... -4zil.html

http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/h ... 6-126.html

Aircraft History
Constructor Number 6055. Delivered September 17, 1941 and assigned USAAF Serial Number 41-23196. Sent overseas to Australia, received by 2nd Air Depot on December 15, assembled and air tested on December 20. Assigned to 6 Squadron, then sent for modification. This aircraft had cowl guns instead of turret installed on December 28, 1941, and fitted with a Boulton Paul Type C Turret in January 29, 1942. Assigned to the 'Composite Squadron' of Hudson bombers from three Squadrons: 6, 23 and 24.

Mission History
Took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby as part a formation of three Hudsons: this aircraft plus Hudson A16-91 and Hudson A16-126. Over the target, they were intercepted by four A5M4 Claudes of the Chitose Kokutai that took off from Gasmata Airfield.

The Hudsons bombed two Japanese ships at Gasmata Harbor: Kinryu Maru and Kozui Maru. Lost was Hudson A16-9. Shortly afterwards, this Hudson was also shot down. Last seen crashing into a ridge line. Japanese pilot Satoshi Yoshino claimed two Hudsons in that combat, including this bomber.

Post War
RAAF Searcher Party led by S/L Rundle originally thought the wreckage of a Hudson in the sea off Gasmata was most likely A16-126 and was unable to recover anything from it. With this piece being found on land, it rules out that the wreck in the water is A16-126 (and most likely A16-101)

Discovered on May 5, 2008 by Mark Reichman and his son Jared on New Britain.

Mark Reichman adds:
"Thanks to Daniel Kovi for assisting with transportation and manpower to get to the site. He arranged trucks and dozers and carriers for us. Without his help we wouldn't have gotten far."

The wreckage was officially acknowledge by the ADF on June 29, 2008 in a news release.

All crew members are listed on the Bikipaka Cemetery Memorial as having "No Known Grave".

Tony Gibson (son of Graham Ian Gibson):
"I was only six weeks old when Ian was shot down but had the knowledge that he had seen me at my birth which gives me a small amount of comfort."

Fiona Thorn (step-niece of Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn):
"I never knew Frank, being born in 1958, but my step-father Les was very close to him. Unfortunately Les and the other 3 brothers are now dead."

Barbara Forrester (niece of Barton Irving Coutie):
"Sgt Barton Irving Coutie was known as "Bill" he was born in Malvern, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 20th October 1918. He was the youngest of Barton and Edith Coutie’s five children."

Gloria Woodward (step-niece of Arthur Edward Quail):
"I knew him well as we spent a lot of time together growing up. I wrote to him throughout the war."

Kodachosho, Chitose Kokutai, February 11, 1942
RAAF records for this mission are recorded under 32 Squadron
We Who Are About To Die page 194 - 197
RAAF Hudson Story Book Two (forthcoming)
"WWII plane find ends son's years of torment" The Western Australian June 28, 2008 page 3
ADF Serials for aircraft history
Thanks to Mark Reichman, Dave Vincent, Lex McCaully, Peter Dunn and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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