|Pilot F/O Graham Ian Gibson, 657 (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, California. Constructor Number 6055. Delivered September 17, 1941 assigned U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) serial number 41-23196. Disassembled and shipped overseas as part of Defense Aid to Australia.
On December 15, 1942 assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Hudson A16-126 and reassembled by 2 Air Depot (2 AD). This Hudson was test flown on December 20, 1942. Assigned to 6 Squadron then sent for modification with cowl guns instead of turret by December 28, 1941 and fitted with a Boulton Paul Type C Turret by January 29, 1942. Assigned to the 'Composite Squadron' of Hudson bombers from 6 Squadron, 23 Squadron and 24 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On February 11, 1942 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 Kōkūtai 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.
RAAF Searcher Party led by S/L Keith Rundle originally thought the wreckage of a Hudson (presumed to be Hudson A16-101) in the sea off Gasmata was A16-126 and was unable to recover anything from it.
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.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All crew members are listed on the Bikipaka Cemetery Memorial as having "No Known Grave". 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."
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."
Kodochosho, Chitose Kōkūtai, 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
"WWII plane find ends son's years of torment" The Western Australian June 28, 2008 page 3
ADF Serials - Hudson A16-126
RAAFDB - Lockheed Hudson Mk. IV A16-126
CWGC - Graham Ian Gibson
CWGC - Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn
CWGC - Arthur Edward Quail
Barton Irving Coutie
Thanks to Mark Reichman, Dave Vincent, Lex McCaully and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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February 4, 2018