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

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22 years 11 months

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I guess the exception to this rule is the HMS Victory wreck which will be salvaged for the fortune of gold and cannons it contains! The fact that you can clearly see human remains seems of little consequence.

Bruce

The MOD has a general policy of non-disturbance, and is certainly never pro-active in the recovery of remains. It has neither the mandate, budget nor the organisation with which to deal with such situations.

In the case of the Sebago Lake Corsairs, a third party was looking to recover the aircraft and remains but the British MOD intervened with the State of Maine and ensured through legal action that it could not happen. I was party to those legal proceedings through Affidavits filed from the UK to the US courts and thus have some considerable 'insider' knowledge of that case.

In the case of the P40 in the desert, remains were certainly found that may or not be related to Flt Sgt Copping and from the outset the MOD/British Embassy have been 'involved' (albeit rather shambolically) in the proposed recovery, identification and burial of those remains. With the possibility that the human remains found not too far distant from the P40 could be those of Dennis Copping they could not have been seen to have just left them where they were and the MOD could not just ignore the matter - especially given the interest of the family in this case. Remains that are potentially accessible and have been seen, moved, photographed and located are, I would suggest, considerably different from possible remains within a Corsair (only one has been located) in very deep water. That is not to say that I don't believe those remains shouldn't be recovered - on the contrary. However, and despite popular belief, the Corsairs have never been dived as only ROV investigation has been conducted. In all probability, remains are contained within that wreck. But there is no certainty of this. In the case of the P40, though, we know there to have been monumental confusion and obfuscation over the truth of what has happened since that discovery. However, the MOD has a duty to deal with tangible remains (such as those found near the P40) on a reactive basis - however badly they may have done so in this instance. In the case of the Corsair(s) there are no known extant remains and the recovery of the aircraft could be quite tricky.

If remains of possible British service personnel are located that are accessible, are not secure and have potential for disturbance then the British government has a duty to deal with such remains, identify them, notify NOK and turn those remains over to the CWGC for burial and commemoration. This situation, potentially, is what we have with the P40 case. It is not currently the situation with the Corsair(s).

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18 years 7 months

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Andy,
There is one slight detail that you have missed when comparing the two. The RAFM are not looking for a corsair for their collection!

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14 years

Posts: 922

Andy you say its the MOD duty to deal with remains, but do they go after the remains?, its usually private individuals on digs that find them then the MOD step in.

No.

The MOD do not have a policy of pro-actively seeking out remains as I pointed out in the previous post(s). On the contrary, in fact.

Here:

"The MOD has a general policy of non-disturbance, and is certainly never pro-active in the recovery of remains. It has neither the mandate, budget nor the organisation with which to deal with such situations."

Member for

22 years 11 months

Posts: 8,464

Andy, Pat

You realise of course that I am playing devil's advocate here. My feeling is that there is no answer with regard to either case.

Andy, with regard to the Sebago Corsair(s), the images we have seen of the one aircraft show canopy forward and locked. I understand that some footage has shown the unfortunate pilot, beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, there is a body, and a means of recovery available, presumably at no cost to the MoD, but they are sticking to their guns.

In the case of the P40, there is no body, and no indication within the wreckage or around the crash site of the possible whereabouts of the pilot. It seems to be that the MoD position is little different here. It would appear that the only reasonable way of proving the identity or otherwise of the human remains is for an independent person to travel into the desert; recover them as best they can, and have the analysis done privately. I cannot see that the UK government will intervene in any form, bearing in mind that they have not done so to date. The political situation may be important there, but may also be a red herring...

Bruce

Whilst I appreciate your devil's advocacy, Bruce, might I correct a couple of points. First, and to clarify, only one of the Corsair aircraft has been found (JT160) and the canopy is certainly not forward and locked. In fact, the opposite is the case. I quote:

"With its canopy locked back it is possible to view ROV images into the cockpit. Remarkably intact, there is clearly a collection of unidentified material laying across the instrument panel and control column. Whilst it is difficult to ascertain what this might be it is possible that it could be a parachute pack and flying overalls. Certainly, the whole of the instrument panel appears to be obliterated by something. An object lodged above the cockpit coaming might possibly be a femur."

Having had the opportunity to view almost an hour of ROV footage during the run-up to the legal proceeding I'd say there is no certainty remains are in the cockpit. In all probability, they may be. The presence of what may be clothing is a pointer, but the presence of the parachute means nothing, really. Certainly the pilot is unaccounted for, but that is all we know. A great deal of misinformation has been circulated about this case; no divers have been down, only one Corsair has been found and there is no definite evidence that remains are extant although I have modified my view on the certainty of that in recent weeks after reviewing all of the ROV footage. I was deliberately circumspect in my article for Britain at War magazine (extract above) in this matter. However, I do feel the wreck should be lifted if possible and a search made for Sub Lt Knott. But we do have a very different scenario, here, than that which exists with the P40.

The difference from the P40 is that a legal order, made in the State of Maine, prohibits interference with the site and it is unlikely that the MOD will seek to overturn that or that there is any likely legal challenge, especially given the subsequent death of one of the major players in this matter in the US.

As to the P40, we know that he died in or fairly close to the aircraft. He is still missing. Remains have been found, photographed and confirmed as human and not too far distant from the wreck. These are supposed to have been associated with remnants of parachute material. The Egyptian authorities and the MOD have been variously involved already in attempts to identify these remains which may, or may not, be related to Flt Sgt Copping. The debacle of that case is well known here. We do not know for certain if these remains have been recovered and tested since the information is conflicting and confusing. They may still be in the desert. Recovery of them by private parties is certainly very much on the agenda, and it is not likely that the MOD would stand in the way of this given all that has transpired. Worth mentioning, too, that some reports have indicated that the Defence Attache, British Embassy, Cairo, has indicated he was willing to journey into the desert to collect the remains if the location could be confirmed. So, in this instance and because of the circumstances, the MOD have indicated an apparent willingness to have the UK's man in Cairo deal with it pro-actively notwithstanding the fact that the case is shamefully shrouded in lies, misinformation and obfuscation. However, as stated, nobody has a clear idea as to what on earth has or hasn't gone on in this case.

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10 years

Posts: 119

As to the P40, we know that he died in or fairly close to the aircraft.

How do you/we know this or perhaps it is your definition of 'fairly close'?

It is just a reasonable deduction. If he didn't die in the aircraft it must have been 'fairly close'. Difficult to imagine that he would have got too far under those conditions, and he was almost certainly injured in the crash-landing. I suppose 'fairly close' is somewhat subjective, but relative to the size of the desert in which he went down, then that was the context of my comment. And in that respect, the discovered human remains with part of a parachute were 'fairly close'.

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22 years 11 months

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A new beginning

I've dug up the old thread, and attached it to the thread we had running regarding Dennis Copping. That keeps all the information in one place, I hope, but there may be a bit of overlap. If you look prior to about Page 44, you will find the old thread on the P40

Please do be aware as I have said before, that what we write here, is read by a much broader church than just those of us that participate. Please keep posts respectful, especially towards any Egyptian nationals.

I'm just going through to make sure there are no howlers in here, and to tidy up some discussion on the old thread, and will then re-open the whole lot.

Bruce

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22 years 11 months

Posts: 8,464

OK, thread is open - I've had a skim through a chunk of the 40 or so pages of the original; I'm not sure there is a lot more information there than we already have in the more recent discussions on the fate of Dennis Copping, but feel free to spend time going back through it all!

Play nicely!

Bruce

Member for

18 years 7 months

Posts: 258

OK, thread is open - I've had a skim through a chunk of the 40 or so pages of the original; I'm not sure there is a lot more information there than we already have in the more recent discussions on the fate of Dennis Copping, but feel free to spend time going back through it all!

Play nicely!

Bruce

Thank you Bruce! In the spirit of detente, i have to say having worked with several Egyptians in Afghanistan I have found them extremely charming and helpful. I sincerely hope that Egypt sees more peaceful days ahead!

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10 years

Posts: 93

this is how the story ends:
an intrepid group of experts lead by Manna ventured into the Egyptian desert
to recover a P-40 and about the fate of the pilot .....who cares about!

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22 years 11 months

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I am sorry. I cannot make out what the post above is trying to convey.

Moggy

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10 years

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Moggy,
I'm simply trying to solicit "the British pride" on a case of total indifference of military and political authorities!

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11 years 1 month

Posts: 797

...oh no...it's come back to life...it must be Halloween...!

I think dko is trying to say that the P40 was recovered from the desert but nobody cares about the fate of the pilot, and that the story seems to end there.

I think many who have read this thread have some sympathy with that sentiment. Certainly, the P40 has been recovered over a year ago from the desert by a team led by Tim Manna but the situation seems to have remained in limbo since then. For many months there was a blackout on discussing the P40 itself, and although that has now been lifted nobody is any the wiser as to what has occurred in respect of the RAF Museum's arrangement with Mr Manna.

More importantly, especially as we approach 11 November, the mystery of Flt Sgt Copping endures.

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10 years

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Thanks Andy, you have fully explained my and our feeling !
Thereby I hope we can start again to discuss the case and find a possible solution.

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16 years 9 months

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Hear, hear. I am still without news from any of the sides involved. As the Defence Attaché in Cairo wrote to me: case closed. Or that seems to be what many parties want.

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22 years 11 months

Posts: 8,464

I don't think the business arrangement between the RAF Museum and Tim Manna has anything whatsoever to do with us!

Unless (and until) the regions stabilises a great deal more than is currently the case, I doubt there is any opportunity for the story to continue.

Bruce