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No. 6 Squadron
Jared Reichman 2008
Mark Reichman 2008
|Pilot F/O Graham Ian Gibson, 290657 (MIA / KIA) North Cottesloe, WA
Co-Pilot P/O Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn, 401471 (MIA / KIA) Brunswick, VIC
Crew Sgt Arthur Edward Quail, 404748 (MIA / KIA) Biloela, QLD
Crew Sgt Barton Irving Coutie, 405543 (MIA / KIA) Malvern, VIC
Crashed February 11, 1942
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructor Number 6055. On September 17, 1941 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-29-LO Hudson serial number 41-23196. Disassembled and shipped overseas as part of defense aid to Australia.
On December 15, 1941 assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Hudson A16-126 and reassembled by 2 Air Depot (2 AD). On December 20, 1941 test flown then assigned to No. 6 Squadron then sent for modification with cowl guns with modifications completed by December 28, 1941. Next, fitted with a Boulton Paul Type C Turret with instation completed by January 29, 1942. Assigned to the "Composite Squadron" of Hudsons from No. 6 Squadron, No. 23 Squadron and No. 24 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On February 11, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby pilot F/O Graham Ian Gibson as one of three Hudsons led by Hudson A16-91 pilot W/Cdr John M. Lerew with Hudson A16-103 pilot S/L William A, "Pedro" Pedrina on a bombing mission against Japanese ships in Gasmata Harbor off Gasmata on New Britain.
Over Gasmata Harbor, the three Hudsons bombed Kinryu Maru and Kozui Maru score hits causing damage and casualties aboard both ships. Afterwards, the Hudsons are intercepted by four A5M4 Claudes from Chitose Kōkūtai led by Ensign Satoshi Yoshino that took off from Gasmata Airfield. The fighters shoot down Hudson A16-91 and shortly afterwards, shot down Hudson A16-126. This Hudson was last seen crashing into a ridge line. Afterwards, Ensign Satoshi Yoshino claimed two Hudsons shot down and anti-aircraft gunners aboard Kozui Maru claimed another, possibly scoring hits on Hudson A16-91. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Postwar, a RAAF Searcher Party led by S/L Keith Rundle originally believed the wreckage of a Hudson in the sea off Gasmata was this aircraft and were unable to recover any remains from the crash site. In fact, the wreckage was later confirmed to be Hudson A16-101.
In fact, this Hudson crashed into the jungle inland from Gasmata on New Britain. On May 5, 2008 the crash site was discovered by Mark Reichman and his son Jared Reichman in the jungle on New Britain. On the rear fuselage was the serial number "A16-126" confirming the identity of the aircraft. On June 29, 2008 the discovery was officially acknowledge by the Australian Defense Force (ADF).
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 entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All crew members are memorialized at Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery on the Rabaul Memorial. Gibson on panel 34. Thorn on panel 35. Quail and Couitie on panel 36.
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."
Betty Costello (niece of Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn)
"I did know Uncle Frank very well when I was a child. I lived with Grandma and Grandpa Thorn for quite a while."
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."
WW2 Nominal Roll - Graham Ian Gibson, 290657
WW2 Nominal Roll - Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn, 401471
WW2 Nominal Roll - Arthur Edward Quail, 404748
WW2 Nominal Roll - Barton Irving Coutie, 405543
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-28-LO Hudson 41-23196
"23196 to Australia as A16-126. Lost in action Port Moresby Feb 11, 1942 with No 6 Sqdn. Wreckage found May 2008 near Gasmata, Papua New Guinea. Recovery planned by RAAF"
RAAF records for February 11, 1942 mission are recorded in No. 32 Squadron
Kodochosho, Chitose Kōkūtai, February 11, 1942
We Who Are About To Die (2007) pages 194-197
RAAF Hudson Story Book Two (2010)
ADF Serials - Hudson A16-126
CWGC - Graham Ian Gibson
CWGC - Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn
CWGC - Arthur Edward Quail
CWGC - Barton Irving Coutie
RAAF Hudson Story Book Two (2010)
Australian Defense Force (ADF) News Release "WWII RAAF Aircraft Located in PNG" June 29, 2008
The Western Australian "WWII plane find ends son's years of torment" by Gabrielle Knowles June 28, 2008 page 3
Australian Associated Press (AAP) "US missionary in PNG finds Aussie WWII bomber" June 29, 2008
ABC News "Aust WWII bomber found in PNG" by Steve Marshall June 29, 2008
Brisbane Times "World War II RAAF missing bomber found in PNG" June 30, 2008
Post-Courier "MIA plane traced in Gasmata" July 1, 2008
Disaster at Gasmata: Shipping Strike in RAAF Hudsons Wednesday 11 February 1942 (2017)
Thanks to Tony Gibson, Betty Costello, Fiona Thorn, Barbara Forrester, Gloria Woodward, Mark Reichman, Dave Vincent, Lex McCaully and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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March 3, 2021
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