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Flt Sgt Copping's P-40 From The Egyptian Desert

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  • David Burke
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jan 2000
    • 10028

    Basically what your saying is that the aircraft can be displayed and tell an interesting story -however we don't know he was lost or pretty much anything else about why it ended up where it was!

    The remains are of 'value' to the family but little else if I am reading you correctly !

    Its an interesting take on it ! However the aircraft could quite easily be replicated by taking the RAFM's existing example and damaging it if entertainment is the aim.

    Most people I feel will view the recovery of human remains and a fitting commemoration of the pilot more important than a wrecked P-40 that could readilly be replicated .

    Comment

    • Lazy8
      Adrian Constable
      • Apr 2012
      • 563

      There, I told you I'd upset people...

      David, I feel you are missing my point. I do not seek 'entertainment value'. I seek to use real history to tell an appropriate story, and I can't see why anyone on here would have a problem with that. I am stunned that a long-time contributor to a historic forum could suggest such a pointless act of mindless vandalism as you have above. I can only assume you were indulging in a little 'reductio ad absurdum' to make your point. Yes, of course we could have no end of created wreck dioramas if we felt the need. They could be made from fibreglass replicas or anything else that came to hand, but they would not have the same impact as the real thing. Besides, I don't believe that's what we're discussing.

      If you want to look at it that way, I suppose I do believe that the remains are of value only to the family. Who else do you think has a legitimate interest in them? As I said, it is not that simple. The actual remains are one thing. The fact that we as a society will put effort into going and searching for them and bringing closure is another thing entirely. Before you make any further assumptions, it's something which I support wholeheartedly. If we just wrote off everyone who has died in the service of their country, for whatever reason, this would not be a society in which I for one would want to live. However, we are forced by circumstance to do just that for many. How many servicemen lie at the bottom of the ocean, or under umpteen feet of mud in places no-one's even thought of looking? How many have been completely obliterated so that there are no viable remains to recover? What do you suggest we do for them? Should we never seek to display any wartime artifacts in museums, or in any other way, until every single person involved is accounted for and their families brought to a satisfactory conclusion? Good luck with that.

      Although there are many ways of looking at such things, I feel the most relevant to this thread is that weapons and wartime items are displayed to tell the story of the sacrifices that took place, with the primary aim of stopping such things happening again. This is of great value to society as a whole as it is one of the ways we ensure we have a future. It may be a bit if a forlorn hope, but we have to try, don't we? Returning remains to a single family may well be of paramount importance to that family but is of lesser importance to society as a whole. Of perhaps equal importance (that's a separate debate) to ensuring we have a future is commemorating the past and ensuring that the efforts and sacrifices that came before are not forgotten. Since resources have limits, if there's a choice to be made I would always look to the future. Personally I'm glad it's not me that has to make those choices on behalf of society.

      Comment

      • Bruce
        Independent analyst
        • Jan 2000
        • 10224

        An interesting and refreshing point of view Adrian.

        I certainly wouldn't say you are wrong, and indeed if we take the argument to its logical conclusion, it can be argued that, following the discovery of the aircraft, we now know what happened to him, which we did not before (in that he got last and crashed); and thus that 'closure' (horrible word) can be obtained. We don't know the details of the last few hours and days of his life, but neither do we need to. The aircraft represents the pilot in a way that his bones never could. In part, it tells the story of his final hours; it hints at the futility of war.

        With regard to the discovery of human bones at a distance from the wreck, it is a sorry affair that they could not be tested, and ultimately the responsibility for that failure can only lie with those that found them, and did not immediately report the location to the relevant authorities. if they do relate to the unfortunate pilot, the whole story could have been put to bed long ago.


        Bruce

        Comment

        • Mike J
          Senior Member
          • Jan 2000
          • 3241

          This whole story has something 'not quite right' about it. Cut straps and a flare pistol left in the aircraft would suggest to me that the pilot succumbed 'in situ', and was later removed by a passer-by at some unknown later date. As to how that then links with one or more sets of bones miraculously found 'some distance away', which then seem to disappear when questions are asked, I doubt we will ever know.

          Comment

          • Mark12
            MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
            • Jan 2000
            • 10863

            ....and the clock removed, but no sand blast witness mark, so removed many years previously.

            Mark
            "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

            Comment

            • Lazy8
              Adrian Constable
              • Apr 2012
              • 563

              Was it not the case that Copping was reported to be unresponsive by his colleague on the ferry flight? Flew off in the wrong direction and failed to respond to frantic attempts to attract his attention? That might suggest carbon monoxide poisoning - not unlikely in a hastily patched-up aircraft. If he was still unconscious when the aircraft ran out of fuel and glided to where it was found then he would have been completely relaxed and might have survived the crash. Lots of 'ifs' in there, and then we get to the bits that really don't make sense. Clock removed and canopy shut suggest the pilot was a conscious participant in the process, although if suffering from the effects of CO, not to mention the crash, he might well have been rather confused. But the cut straps and flare pistol suggest he was assisted, at least. Either way, he didn't remain with the aircraft, which suggest someone had a purpose. What that purpose was is another question.

              Comment

              • David Burke
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Jan 2000
                • 10028

                Bruce - 'With regard to the discovery of human bones at a distance from the wreck, it is a sorry affair that they could not be tested, and ultimately the responsibility for that failure can only lie with those that found them, and did not immediately report the location to the relevant authorities'

                The aircraft was recovered on behalf of the RAFM . The RAFM ultimately should have been talking to the Mod regards the recovery of human remains. That the aircraft was recovered with what appears to be no search for remains is curious. It is not the responsibility of private groups to search for military personnel .

                Comment

                • David Burke
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jan 2000
                  • 10028

                  Lazy - I am not quite sure why you think you have upset me ! I don't agree with your views .

                  Regards this ' I am stunned that a long-time contributor to a historic forum could suggest such a pointless act of mindless vandalism as you have above'

                  Why not ??? The RAFM P-40 was cobbled together from bits recovered in PNG and sundry items from the U.S . We are not really sure how much is 1940's or 1990's metal . It was a wreck before it was restored -its a static restoration that is undoubtedly missing in the finer detail . Is it particularily historic or original - no !

                  If the 'RAFM' Egyptian P-40 doesn't turn up what do you suggest ???



                  As to the human remains -if recovered Flt Sgt Copping would be marked by a gravestone or plaque . That might be visited by one -ten- or hundreds of people a year. Is that any less of a tribute than a damaged P-40 sat as a diorama in North London ?

                  Comment

                  • Bruce
                    Independent analyst
                    • Jan 2000
                    • 10224

                    David,

                    At the time the aircraft was recovered, a search was made in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft for the remains of the pilot. They predominantly worked at night, under lamps, owing to the searing heat of the desert during daytime hours. Regardless, they did look for the pilot, all of which has already been documented here.

                    The bones were located by another team at some distance from the wreck, though no suggestion has been given as to how they were located, which is odd, as this would be a real needle in a haystack situation. This find was made some time before the recovery of the wreck, and at no time between the discovery of the bones, and the recovery of the aircraft, did the group in question alert the authorities to the location of their find.

                    So, how do you expect the recovery team to be able to find them?


                    Bruce

                    Comment

                    • David Burke
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Jan 2000
                      • 10028

                      I doubt there was any chance of a recovery team working at night locating any remains in the desert . It's not realistic. The fact that remains were found seems to perplex many ! The term 'needle in a haystack' being the favourite phrase -however we don't know how many people were involved in the search -what height they were searching from -if there was a natural path or rocks that indicated shelter . In reality it doesn't really matter - great effort and expense seems to have been expended in getting the aircraft recovered - how much effort was put into the search for bones is somewhat vague.

                      Should the blame for failure to recover the remains be directed at the people who initially bothered to look or the authorities who clearly have far better finance - greater numbers of personnel and influence at government level ?
                      Last edited by David Burke; 9th August 2014, 11:27.

                      Comment

                      • l.garey
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Feb 2006
                        • 1951

                        Originally posted by David Burke View Post
                        we don't know how many people were involved in the search -what height they were searching from -if there was a natural path or rocks that indicated shelter .... - how much effort was put into the search for bones is somewhat vague.
                        According to Arido's own report the reasons for the team going in the direction they did was based on "reports, texts and testimonies", as can be gathered from the following text that I have copied from their web site and edited below. I still have not been able to work out why they took that decision and that direction.

                        http://www.qattara.it/versione%20in%...ESTO%20_1_.pdf

                        "On the morning of June 16, 2012, we started at dawn to find the remains of the pilot in the direction that, reading reports, texts and testimonies, perhaps Copping had followed. ..... We split into 5 teams supported also by local people and began to move towards the south east (towards Farafra) ..... After about 2 hours of walking, Riccardo advised through the radio of a discovery: in the middle of nowhere..... is probably a shirt button imprinted with the date of 1939. .... We continued walking, I went up on every hill or ridge on my way until after another hour I saw with binoculars from a distance of 300 meters something white in a small area of shadow. ..... We arrived on site, the others arrived and found a piece of white material stuck between the rocks beneath them and in a small creek of perhaps 2 square meters in the shade there were some bones..... they seem to be some vertebrae, ribs, collarbone and some smaller bones."
                        Laurence

                        Comment

                        • Bruce
                          Independent analyst
                          • Jan 2000
                          • 10224

                          David,

                          Quite simply - and regardless of how they were found, an enthusiast group found bones. They documented their find, but then failed to pass on the location.

                          Using the 'needle' analogy, how can we expect another group to find them again, with no idea where to look, especially as they were some distance from the wreck? I suggest that it doesn't matter how much money one has, or how many personnel - looking for anything in such a vast space is always going to be problematical.

                          So, yes, I place the blame fully at the feet of the individuals that found the bones and didn't report it. The team that recovered the aircraft did so in order to stop it being destroyed, which would have happened. I see no mileage in placing blame at their door for not finding something that wasn't there.

                          Comment

                          • Mark12
                            MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 10863

                            Originally posted by David Burke View Post
                            The fact that remains were found seems to perplex many ! The term 'needle in a haystack' being the favourite phrase -however we don't know how many people were involved in the search -what height they were searching from -if there was a natural path or rocks that indicated shelter. ?
                            A chance find in 200 million square metres of desert between the P-40 and the bones, if they were at the 8 kilometres radius?

                            That perplexes me to the point where I do not believe it.

                            Canopy jammed shut with sand but with recent broken glazing, cut webbing straps, Very pistol on the cockpit floor, clock removed. That suggests to me that Sgt Copping did not survive the impact and was found and released some time later, weeks, months even years but while the canopy would slide.

                            The clues to this riddle may lie in the authorisation of said 'initial discovery' parties to be in this military area...and Egyptian law.

                            Mark
                            Last edited by Mark12; 9th August 2014, 15:45.
                            "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

                            Comment

                            • David Burke
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Jan 2000
                              • 10028

                              ' I see no mileage in placing blame at their door for not finding something that wasn't there'

                              That doesn't make sense ! Clearly the bones were there -the team didn't know where to look. So no the blame doesn't lie with the recovery team -the remit of recovery of military personnel remains is a government matter -what a private team would wish to achieve if they did find them is debateable.

                              As to finding remains in a large expanse -yes difficult -attempting to find them in the dark impossible.


                              As to Flt Sgt Copping - we don't know if he saw a nearby settlement and set off on foot . He might have forgotten the Very Pistol -he might have thought he was a short distance from help and it was not worthwhile . We cannot base the notion that he died in the crash on a Very pistol. As to the straps -they could have been cut at any time in the last seventy years by locals who wished to use them for bindings or any other reason. Similarily the clock was of value - the aircraft wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a 'time capsule' .

                              Comment

                              • Bruce
                                Independent analyst
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 10224

                                David, the bones we are discussing were some distance away from the wreck - a search was made in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft. Nothing was found.

                                There is no nearby settlement. The aircraft landed quite literally in the middle of nowhere. The location is 3-4 hours drive from the nearest village. I have spoken to three people who were present at the recovery, and seen several hundred pictures documenting the dismantling and recovery of the aircraft. I certainly do not underestimate the task they undertook.

                                We will never know what happened to F/S Copping. Even if remains were to be found, we cannot now know how they got there, it is all supposition. In the absence of any other information, Peters suggestion above is as likely a scenario as any other we could imagine.


                                Bruce

                                Comment

                                • David Burke
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Jan 2000
                                  • 10028

                                  I have never really found the truth on this ! One report went '

                                  Having found the crash site location for myself, I can now reveal that bit about it being 200 miles from the nearest town is completely untrue.
                                  The crash site is a mere 31.3 miles from the centre of the nearest town.
                                  More over it is just 6.5 miles from the nearest asphalt road and only 26 miles from the nearest village.

                                  It would be nice to know the definitive truth on the distance.


                                  As to the scenario - at some stage Flt Sgt Copping appears to have retracted the undercarriage and the propeller certainly appears to have been rotating at a fair rpm. That to my mind would indicate a forced landing rather than an aircraft where the pilot might have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and had crashed with no pilot input.

                                  Looking at the debris trail and how it shed energy it certainly appears to be a survivable crash - the evidence of a closed canopy and Very pistol left in the cockpit isn't conclusive of anything .

                                  Comment

                                  • Mark12
                                    MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
                                    • Jan 2000
                                    • 10863

                                    Can somebody remind me as I didn't download all the posted images.

                                    1) Weren't the cut portions of the webbing adjacent to P-40 in the sand?

                                    2) Were images of the bones posted and then removed quickly and was it reported that there were parachute remains with the bones?

                                    Mark
                                    "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

                                    Comment

                                    • David Burke
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Jan 2000
                                      • 10028

                                      There are pictures of the remains of a parachute on one of the two Italian sites .

                                      Comment

                                      • l.garey
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Feb 2006
                                        • 1951

                                        Mark12:
                                        Indeed qattara did post a photo of the bones, that was removed by Bruce on 9 June 2014 (see post #1964). Qattara had provided me with photos earlier, but requested that they not be published.
                                        The white material found with the bones was assumed to be from a parachute.
                                        Laurence

                                        Comment

                                        • dko
                                          dko
                                          Rank 5 Registered User
                                          • Nov 2012
                                          • 94

                                          I personally believe that Copping survived the crash!
                                          Presumably he went south in the direction oasis of Koufra (Italian territory away from the front), then changed direction to fuel shortage aiming for salvation Farafra / Baharia. (in the maps of the time was well indicated the oasis of Koufra and Farafra)
                                          This consideration comes from the fact that he flew long to exhaust the fuel (more than 2 hours), while the distance from the takeoff to the discovery of the wreck is less than 250 miles! Have not been found on the wreck equipment or maps or personal items of the pilot, this may explain an organized departure from the crash site to search salvation !
                                          I believe that only a well-designed research in a range of 10-15 miles with the help of a camera drone can find possible remains of Copping !!

                                          PS. Forget about the bones found, too many inaccuracies and false leads!
                                          Last edited by dko; 24th August 2014, 15:51.

                                          Comment

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