A RAAF Hudson bomber, lost in a remote region of Papua New Guinea (PNG) during WWII, has been confirmed found today.
The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP said the plane, A16-126, was part of a formation of three RAAF Hudson bombers which attacked Japanese shipping at Gasmata harbour, New Britain, PNG on the 11 February 1942.
“Over the target, the RAAF bombers were intercepted by Japanese fighters which had scrambled from Gasmata airfield. A16-126 was listed as ‘lost by enemy action,’” said Mr Snowdon.
“Now, 66 years after it went missing, the plane has been located in thick jungle on a ridge inland from the town of Gasmata.
Four men were lost with the aircraft. They were Flying Officer Graham Ian Gibson, Pilot Officer Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn, Sergeant Barton Irving Coutie, and Sergeant Arthur Edward Quail.
Originally located last month by Mark Reichman a missionary on New Britain, an Air Force team has now conducted a reconnaissance of the aircraft and it’s surrounds, and found the bomber in several large pieces with the cockpit lying upside down and partially buried in mud. Bullet holes were also identified in the tail section. Cannon shells were located in their original clips, no bombs were found.
“Following this confirmation, Air Force will now begin planning a full recovery operation with the assistance of the PNG Government. A team including forensic specialists will deploy to conduct a thorough examination of the site. This involves dividing the area into grid squares and conducting a detailed search for any trace of human remains, personal artefacts and military items.
“It is to be hoped this investigation will finally account for these four lost brave airmen.
Air Force has contacted relatives of three of the four crew members of the aircraft but continues trying to locate relatives of Sergeant Arthur Edward Quail (Service number A404748) who was from Biloela, Queensland.
People with information should contact the Defence Public Inquiry line on 02 6265 2999.
Kate Sieper (Warren Snowdon): 02 6277 7620 or 0488 484 689
Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664