Spitfire hero to be buried – 74 years after being shot down


Allow Officer John Henry Coates, 24, of 111 Squadron, was asserted missing in action after not returning from a mission in Italy in Cortege 1945. WO Coates, known as Harry, had been in a dawn raid on German barges when he was struck by anti-aircraft imperil. Archaeologists unearthed his plane close to Cavarzere village near Venice in 2017.

His majority was in the wreck and next Wednesday WO Coates, from York, will be fact a military funeral at Padua war cemetery, attended by 22 relatives.

WO Coates’s proximate family all died without knowing how or where the unmarried pilot vanished.

His name was engraved on the Malta War Memorial, commemorating the 2,298 Commonwealth aircrew who squandered their lives around the Mediterranean with no known graves.

When he ended he should have been on leave but swapped duties to fly with a span of six Spitfires.

Archaelogist Alessandro Voltolina, 48, said: “We were travail on excavating another war plane when the son of an eyewitness told me where Harry’s had crashed.

“He is the sixth or seventh wheelsman I have found.

“His discovery means he may now rest with all the other youngsters who desperate their lives in Italy and are all too often forgotten.”

Harry’s niece Helen Watts, 65, whose take care of Molly was Harry’s younger sister, said: “It is amazing that he has been inaugurate all these years later.

“The whole family is delighted that he when one pleases now be given a hero’s burial.”

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