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Thread: Sgt A E Coates New Zealand 502 Sqn

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    Default Sgt A E Coates New Zealand 502 Sqn

    I am trying to find out about NZ40643 Sgt A.E. Coates. On 24/3/1942 he was flying a Whitley out of St Eval with 502 Sqn. when it was attacked by a destroyer and badly damaged. It crashed on landing the ORB says the 2nd Pilot was injured. After the war my father who was WO/AG W.E.P.Webb on the flight emigrated to NZ and the family are trying to trace the 'fellow countryman' Pilot. Any help gratefully received. Bill Webb

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    Bill,

    Sadly, Coates never survived the war nor made it back to New Zealand.

    From my trilogy 'For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume One: Fates 19115-1942':

    Tue 15 Sep 1942
    Coastal Command
    Anti-submarine patrol - ‘BP13’
    502 Squadron, RAF (St Eval, Cornwall - 19 Group)
    Whitley VII Z9365/A - took off at 1305 and was forced to ditch in the sea 150 miles west of Brest, France, after an encounter with several enemy aircraft, during which the captain was wounded. Z9365 broke in two on impact and its large dinghy sank with the tail half. The 2nd pilot and an RCAF member of the crew drifted away from the wreckage and were not seen again. The other four clambered into a small dinghy, but the captain died on the 16th, another from injuries received in the crash, and a third from exposure. An RAF Sgt was the sole survivor, being picked up by a French fishing boat, only to be captured by the Germans on the 30th. His five comrades are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
    Captain: NZ40643 Plt Off Alan Edward COATES, mid, RNZAF - Age 30.
    2nd Pilot: NZ414594 Sgt Alexander Bridges COBURN, RNZAF - Age 27. 382hrs.
    Coburn’s true family name was Cockburn, although he enlisted and served as Coburn.

    And from Vol Three (Biogrpahies & Appendices):

    COATES, Pilot Officer Alan Edward, mid.
    NZ40643 (prev A40643); b Auckland 15 Dec 11; Auckland Grammar; machine fitter - Dairy Co Machines, [at?]. Provisionally accepted for RAF SSComm mid-1939 but scheme lapsed on outbreak of war; RNZAF Levin/GTS as Airman Pilot u/t 13 Feb 40, 2EFTS 8 Apr 40, 2FTS 3 Jun 40, Pilots Badge [wef 2.8.40] & Sgt 21 Sep 40, att RAF & emb for UK 6 Oct 40, 1 Depôt 30 Nov 40, 2SGR 14 Dec 40, 3(C)OTU (Whitley) 8 Mar 41, 502 Sqn (Whitley) 10 May 41, Comm 1 May 42, kao 16 Sep 42. Runnymede Memorial - Panel 115. Son of Thomas Joseph & Edith Agnes Maud Coates (née Brookfield), St Heliers, Auckland; h of Elsie May Coates, St Heliers. [OHT1, BSD & phot. TWN 16.12.42].

    Errol

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    Many thanks, as always excellent information. Interestingly after the war my father emigrated to New Zealand partly because of domestic troubles but also because of the number of Kiwis he met and got on well with in the RAF.
    Bill

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