|Pilot F/O Percy John Coates, 409815 (MIA / KIA) Lake Boga, VIC
Navigator F/O Charles Hilton Chapple, 421967
(MIA / KIA) Greenethorpe, NSW
Crashed November 25, 1943
Built by Bristol in the United Kingdom. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufighter serial number A19-139. On July 7, 1943 assigned to 1 AD (1 Air Depot) and reassembled. On September 14, 1943 assigned to 30 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 25, 1943 took off on a mission to attack Japanese barges
off the north coast of New Britain near Bangula Bay and Ubili. Over the target, the left engine of this Beaufighter was observed to be smoking, then rolled upside down and crashed into the trees exploding on impact inland from Kimbe.
During 1985, a villager and reported this crash site to a helicopter pilot and geologist working in the area. During October 1995, Brian
Bennett Rodney Marden and Tonly Aldred helicoptered to this site ten minutes inland from Kimbe and confirmed the aircraft based off the fuselage serial number.
"In 1985, a geologist and helicopter pilot were working in that area, and got a report from a villager about a crash site. They reported it to me, but I had no way to get there. Ten years later, another helicopter pilot asked me if I wanted to go there to investigate it. The three of us, Rodney Marden, Tony Aldred and I went there and found the same villager who had reported it in 1985. We found it, including its Hercules engines, and knew it was a Beaufighter. We found the serial number, and the RAAF came out a few months later and the rest is history."
Recovery of Remains
During late 1995, a RAAF Searcher Team visited the crash and recovered the remains of the crew including both their identity discs.
Both crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. On November
25, 1995 after the recovery of remains both were permanently buried at Bita
Paka War Cemetery. Chapple at H. D. 11. Coates H. D. 10.
A propeller from
this aircraft currently forms part of the Sam
Remo Club WWII Memorial. The
retrieval of this propeller and engine, was done recovered for the
portions of the aircraft's instrument panel is displayed at the PNG
Port Moresby. The rudder
pedals and armor plated glass are
displayed at the Kokopo Museum.
CWGC - Charles Hilton Chapple
CWGC - Percy John Coates
ADF Serials - Beaufighter A19-139
RAAF MIA Beaufighter Discovery by Phil Bradley
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August 10, 2019