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No. 82 Squadron
Larry McKenna 1999
|Pilot F/O Morris Ambrose Bellert, 404011 (MIA / KIA) Casino, NSW
Crashed October 18, 1944
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40N-20-CU Warhawk serial number 43-23219. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
During December 1943 assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as P-40N Kittyhawk serial number A29-641. Assigned to No. 82 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On October 18, 1944 took off Noemfoor Island piloted by F/O Morris A. Bellert on a mission over Manokwari. Over the target, this P-40 became separated due to bad weather and failed to return. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA), In fact, this P-40 crashed into the sea over Manokwari.
During December 1998, an Indonesian fisherman discovered the intact wreckage of this P-40 off the coast of New Guinea. Reported by Bas Kreuger and Max Ammer to the Australian Governement.
Larry McKenna adds:
"I dove this P-40 wreck shortly after Bellert's remains were removed. I dove it again a few weeks ago. As a result, I probably have the only video of this wrecked plane that includes views from all angles. This last dive revealed a very interesting aspect to the plane that has not been observed before. Now have a GPS location as well. The plane was not all in 1 piece. What is there is in fairly good conditions considering the 60 years of sleep. The next dive expedition to Manokwari wrecks will occur in 2006 in month of May. I will probably lead those dives again. There are 12 beds on the dive ship. Visibility is usually terrible because of currents off a nearby reef system."
Recovery of Remains
During 1999, a RAAF Searcher Team including Ian Honey visited the crash site and recovered the remains of the pilot.
On April 15, 1999 Bellert's remains were buried at Lae War Cemetery at NN. C. 14.
Allan Bellert (son)
Son Allan Bellert, from Canberra, Australia attended his father's funeral and it was a great relief to know finally what happened to his father and to at last have him buried in a marked grave alongside hundreds of his World War II comrades - ending what for him had been a life-long search for his father.
CWGC - Morris Ambrose Bellert
ADF Serials - Kittyhawk A29-641
Thanks to SQNLDR Gregory Williams and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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October 28, 2021
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