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Sgt Barton Irving Coutie
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crew Hudson A16-126 Missing In Action (MIA)
by Barbara Forrester (niece)
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Barbara Forrester (niece)

"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. After completing his education at Scotch College, Melbourne, he worked on a farm in Victoria. In April 1939 he rode to Queensland on his push bike. He worked on a farm and was going into partnership in a small business in outback Queensland, had to abandon the partner when he joined up.

In March 1940 he joined the Army Signals in Brisbane. He then enlisted in the RAAF in Brisbane on 25th April 1941. He completed his training in Victoria. He was posted to No. 23 squadron at Archerfield, Queensland as a Wireless Air Gunner (WAG), with the rank of Sergeant, in December 1941.

He was sent to Port Moresby at the end of January 1942 and flew with a combined squadron (eventually to become No 32 Squadron) under Wing Commander John Lerew. Bill was posted missing, presumed killed over Gasmata, New Britain, in Hudson A16-126 while attacking ships at mast height, on Wednesday, 11th February 1942.

His Certificate of Death on War Service was issued for official purposes on 25th September 1946 as presumed to be dead on 11th February 1942.

He left a father, mother and siblings, Bess, Rob, Jean and Dora, also 4 nieces and 2 nephews.

As a girl of 13 years old and for a few years, I had hoped that Sgt Barton I Coutie, our Uncle Bill, had survived, had amnesia, and had been taken in by the friendly people of the area and found life pleasant there and had stayed. It didn't occur to me that he would have worn a dog tag.

The remains will probably be under the wreck or else will have been scattered by wild pigs. The chance that any of the crew had parachuted out is remote but not impossible.

Bill Coutie's sister Dora had always presumed that he had gone down in the sea. She said, when she was told that the wreck had been found, that she would rather not have known, that she had always thought he had drowned. Then she said she felt excited to know that the plane had been found.

I heard of this discovery through my sons. James had sent the website of pacificwrecks on the 3rd May. David looked again at pacificwrecks on the 16th May and saw that the wreck of Hudson A16-126 had been found on the 5th May 2008 and rang me. What a surprise that it had been found. I felt exhilarated to hear the news. It was found the day after we had been looking at letters from Bill and at newspaper clippings.

Bill's family were distraught not knowing what had happened to the plane and crew as were the many families in the same situation. The family was too upset to talk about him. Since the discovery of the wreck we have been able to. Dora says a "tightening" has gone.

About 22 years ago when one of our daughters worked for an airline, I had thought to go to Gasmata. She said forget it, it will be too difficult to get there. The thought that the wreck would be discovered was always there. I had always thought it was on the side of a mountain or hill, somewhere near Gasmata, not in the sea."

WW2 Nominal Roll - Barton Irving Coutie, 405543
CWGC - Barton Irving Coutie
Thanks to Barbara Forrester for additional information

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