Flying Officer Charles Hilton CHAPPLE

Service No: 421967
Born: Grenfell NSW, 23 March 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 24 April 1942
Unit: No. 30 Squadron
Died: Air Operations (No. 30 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft A19-139), New Britain, 25 November 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery PNG
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles Edgar Chapple and Aline Monica Chapple, of Greenethorpe, New South Wales
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Grenfell World War II Memorial, Grenfell NSW
Remembered: Weddin Shire and Grenfell War Memorials, Grenfell NSW

On 25 November 1943, Beaufighter A19-139 was one of two aircraft detailed to carry out an offensive barge sweep from Rangambol Point to Cape Hoskins on the north coast of New Britain. The two aircraft took off from Kiriwina at approximately 0654 hours. On reaching Rangambol Point, A19-54 commenced to sweep with A19-139 as top cover. Shortly after passing Ubili the observer of A19-139 called up by radio and stated they were experiencing trouble with the port engine and may have been hit by anti-aircraft fire, but was not sure. Pilot Officer Robert John Milroy Walker (418598) (Discharged: 10 October 1945) in A19-54 immediately told A19-139 they would both return to base. When flying at about 800 feet shortly after passing Bangula Bay, A19-139 rolled over on its back and dived into trees at an angle of 45 degrees, and exploded on impact. Pilot Officer Walker circled the area for 10 minutes and could see nothing among the trees, but considered the crew could not have survived the crash.

The crew members of A19-139 were:

Flying Officer Charles Hilton Chapple (421967) (Observer)
Flying Officer Percy John Coates (409815) (Pilot)

The wreck of A19-139 was discovered in 1995 and Flying Officers Chapple and Coates were buried with full military honours on 25 November 1995.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/7/253; A9845, 18
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


Eames, Jim The Searchers, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia QLD 4067, 1999 – Chapter 17: We’ve Found Your Brother’s Plane
Parnell, N.M. (Neville M.) Whispering Death: A history of the RAAF’s Beaufighter Squadrons, AH & AW Reed, Terry Hills NSW, 1980
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990

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