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

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Profile picture for user l.garey

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That's what I would like to do Peter.

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To me it would have seemed like the first place to look... out of respect for the family...

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Would they need permission to test the remains, one could argue that until they were positively identified they could belong to anyone, therefore would the family need to be consulted?, common courtesy as they are aware of the remains would have been to let them know.

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Common courtesy seems thin on the ground in this matter.
Permission: maybe not formally, but in view of the fact that the family wants to know if the ARIDO bones are Dennis's, hopefully.
Whatever, I hope the bones have not got lost. If so, it would not be the first time that bones from a crashed pilot disappeared.

It would be interesting if our friends at ARIDO could be persuaded to come back to this forum and let us know the position from their perspective.

If the bones have been recovered for DNA testing then one must conclude that the Italian team would have had to be involved. Otherwise, how would the MOD/Embassy/Egyptian authorities know where to find them?

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I believe - I'll cite what I recall in a mo - that hot, dry conditions are very bad for DNA preservation, so it is unfortunately a possibility that any recovered remains may not contain recoverable or analysable DNA. That said, the byzantine shenanigans going on around what may or may not have been recovered is pretty disappointing. Can we not find an American connection for Dennis Copping, and get their MIA teams involved?:(

I canot now find a source, but I recall reading that hot, dry conditions are bad for DNA preservation as a result of an interest in a unit in Oxford set up to study ancient DNA (somewhere I would have loved to have worked). Their director then decamped to Sydney to set up a similar facility there, and the Oxford unit closed. This turned out to be a bad career move, as Australian conditions, as opposed to those of cold damp Europe, do not preserve DNA well.

I'm happy to be proved wrong (indeed, I hope that sooner, rather than later, I am, for the sake of Dennis Copping's family and those who knew him), but unfortunately DNA analysis is dependent on a great many things, especially having DNA in a condition that allows analysis, and isn't a magic bullet.

Adrian

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It is true that hot, dry conditions may lead to degradation of DNA, but that has not stopped people sequencing DNA from Egyptian mummies. After hundreds or thousands of years the DNA will certainly be degraded, but it is usually possible to go a long way to identifying sequences that can be compared with, for example, DNA from possibly related persons. In the case of the Egyptian Kittyhawk, the bones that were found had only been there for about 70 years (if they are those of the pilot, which is not sure). I am very surprised to hear from the Defence Attaché that the bones were unsuitable for DNA testing. That suggests that if any testing was done it was not on Flt Sgt Copping's remains, but rather something much older. We just do not know.

But what worries me most is that the original discoverers of the bones last year say that they left them in the desert and that they were not recovered since. That is the real mystery to me. Sadly the Defence Attaché tells me he cannot answer any more questions, and so I cannot know who did the testing, when or how.

As I understand it, the Defence Attache is saying that DNA was not recoverable but information from the Italian team is stating that the bones must still be in the desert because nobody has asked them where they are! And only they know.

In effect, we could be looking at a repeat performance of the episode where the MOD stated the bones were over 400 years old and thus could not be Flt Sgt Copping. That was exposed as incorrect information and the MOD had to admit/apologise to the family for the fact that the bones had not been recovered and therefore there was no earthly way anybody could know if it was Flt Sgt Copping or not - let alone that they were over 400 years old.

If the bones have not been recovered (as I believe the Italians are insisting) then there cannot be any way that a statement to the effect that DNA is non-recoverable can possibly be made. That seems to be the position. That and the fact that the Defence Attache has simply refused to deal with queries on the matter stating: "Case closed".

Somebody (again) would appear to be making untruthful or misleading statements.

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What I was told was that analysis of the bones by the Egyptian medical authorities indicated that it was not possible for DNA to be extracted, which assumes that the bones were recovered. Now, if what is meant is that the authorities said that DNA was not extractable because of the bones still being in the desert, being too old and dry, or simply inaccessible, then that is a different matter and someone should make it clear. Are the bones still near the wreck site and their unsuitability for identification purely surmise?

I see what you mean.

The fact that DNA is deemed not recoverable may be simply because the bones have not been recovered or are deemed non-recoverable.

A slight economy of facts, if so, but thus not untruthful or incorrect - even if a tad disingenuous.

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I wonder! I have contacted the MOD and await a reply after 9 April!

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Perhaps the reasons why the authorities did not consider appropriate to do DNA test on the bones found is because there are no elements and items relating to Copping (no complete skeleton, no clothes, no military badges etc..)
Given that the desert is a cemetery in the open and in this region was also lost the army of Cambyses (50,000 people) for this the discovery of human bones is frequent...... then the skepticism of the authorities !

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So if i have understood correctly the MOD have told the Family that the bones discovered by the Italians have been deemed "unsuitable for DNA analysis". Like most people (and the family!) I assumed that this meant the bones had been recovered to a laboratory and an unsuccessful attempt made to extract DNA. Now it transpires that in fact no one has either asked for or been given the location of the remains, making it highly unlikely that they have actually been recovered. So despite the fact that a fragment of parachute was discovered at that location it may well be that the decision has been made not to recover or test the remains as there is not enough circumstantial evidence that they are those of Dennis Copping?
If this is the case this is simply unacceptable, to quote a member of Dennis Coppings' family "they found a fragment of parachute with the bones what more do they need?"
I find this whole situation extraordinary!

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That seems to be the situation Pat. I still do not know if the bones were actually recovered or if the announced decision (to me and the family) that DNA could not be be extracted was taken without proper laboratory examination. As I said above, the Defence Attaché in Cairo will not answer more questions, and the MOD contact in the UK will only respond after 9 April. I do not know why they cannot be more forthcoming.

From all that I have learned (in considerable detail) about this case away from the forum, and how it has been handled, only one word comes to mind; shocking. And that is a woefully inadequate description.

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Forgive me if I,ve missed something only just come out of hospital,but what is the significance of the 9th April date quoted a couple of times above?.Is that the end of our embassy,s easter hols?.

regards
jack...

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Jack: good that you are out of hospital!
You may be right about the Easter holidays (for MOD, rather than Embassy). It was the date given to me by the MOD executive I wrote to to ask for details of what the h... was going on. She said she would reply after 9 April. More news soon, I hope.

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thanks for that,could I also ask should have done in my other post but only thought about it after I,d hit the send button!was not more info going to be forth coming after a talk somewhere in the US by someone from the IWM about the recovery of the P.40?

regards
jack...

Profile picture for user l.garey

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I think tangmere followed that story. Can he comment?

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I have just heard that the head of the Forensic lab in Cairo has stated quite clearly that NO request was made to examine the bones suspected to possibly be those of Dennis Copping, that they have NOT been recovered from the desert, so NO DNA test has been done. So, the message from the Defence Attaché to me that the bones were examined locally in Egypt and found not to yield DNA is VERY difficult to fathom. As he will not answer any more questions from me I have contacted the MOD in England, who should reply within the next few days (I hope).

This is very frustrating and I just cannot understand why the situation seems to be getting more and more devious. All we want to do is to prove whether the remains found near the crash site could be those of Dennis Copping, or that they definitely are not his. Is that so difficult, when we have the technical ability to do it?

What are we missing?