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P/O Frank Leslie Oliver Thorn
MIA Hudson A16-126
Co-Pilot
by Betty Costello (niece) & Fiona Thorn (step niece)
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Betty Costello (Thorn's niece):
"I did know Uncle Frank very well when I was a child. I lived with Grandma and Grandpa Thorn for quite a while. There were 5 boys in the family. Jim (my Dad), Harry, Fred, Frank and Les. Dad and Harry had left home and Fred, Frank and Les were still at home in Thornbury, a suburb of Melbourne, where they all grew up. I was very fond of the three boys – I think they spoilt me. I can remember Uncle Frank making kites and flying them with me many times. I was aware he played cricket for Northcote but was too young to be really interested. I do remember he had a full-sized cricket pitch in the very large backyard.

I was too young to ask questions or be interested really but I do think he worked for ‘Black and White Whisky’. There were lots of Black and White Whisky paraphernalia in the house. I even had some little black and white scotch terriers (their logo) and in fact I think I still have a pair somewhere. Eventually my family got back together in Melbourne and when we visited Grandma and Grandpa by this stage Frank and Les were often out but Fred was nearly always home. I think I was in my teens (I was born in 1929 and am now 79) when Frank joined up. He had married Claire but they weren’t married long when he was sent overseas. I did not really know Claire as I only met her briefly. I heard from the family that his plane had gone down and was last seen heading for the sea near Papua New Guinea – hence he was missing, presume lost at sea, for all these years I think the whole family presumed we’d not hear of him again and personally I think it’s very exciting news we are hearing now. I just think it’s very sad all his immediate family are gone and that there are only three nieces left – myself, my sister, Valda, and his brother Les’s daughter, Jennifer.

I heard about the wreckage perhaps being found through Fiona Archer after a phone call from my brother in law, asking me to ring her. Soon after I received a letter from Wing Commander Warby, of Air Force Headquarters, then he range me to let me know a small team was leaving here to meet up on New Britain with the people who found the plane (Mark Reichman, etc) and they would be travelling by helicopter and foot to the wreckage site. He said he would keep me informed.

You ask if I would consider travelling to PNG to see the crash site or go to the Memorial Service – I can only say I am waiting to hear what eventuates next. Also I’ll be moving house in the next month or so, so it would also depend on times.

I have a resume of Frank Thorn from Cricket Victoria ( which I am happy to post to you if you could provide an address). I am also in touch with a man from Northcote Cricket Club who is also sending me some information on his very impressive record there. He has borrowed photos of Frank from me as they had none. I also have some photos of Frank I could post on to you of Frank in his RAAF uniform, his father and mother with his bothers."

 

Fiona Thorn (step niece)
"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. I'm very excited and interested in the find, as is my sister Rosemary. I feel very sad too that Frank has been found without any of his siblings or parents here to witness. I was very close to my step-father Les, and I know he would have been very touched by the interest and care shown by everyone involved.

Thorn was born August 16, 1912 in St Arnaud, which is in country Victoria, and he married Bertha Claire Macintosh in 1941. It's funny Betty mentioning the black & white whisky, as we also had paraphenalia, including the little scottie dogs. I think I still have them somewhere too!

I remember the backyard in Thornbury as being huge, but being a child, didn't really register the cricket pitch. I remember Betty's father (Uncle Jim), Uncle Harry, who I had a lot to do with. He lived in Sydney, and my sister & I often stayed with him & wife Pam en route to Norfolk Island (where we lived at the time) from boarding school. We also knew Frank's mother Beatrice (Gram), who was lovely to me as a child. Am still waiting for contact from my step-sister Jennifer.

Frank's great nephew (Betty's nephew) Russell Mark will be competing in Beijing Olympics in the shotgun events. He already has at least 2 gold medals from previous Olympics.

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