ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 161031
Last updated: 18 November 2020
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Type:Silhouette image of generic SPIT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX
Owner/operator:111 (Treble One) Squadron Royal Air Force (111 (Treble One) Sqn RAF)
Registration: PT410
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Cavarzere, North of Adria -   Italy
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:Rimini, Italy
Destination airport:
Shot down by flak in combat operations (bomber escort) at Cavarzere, north of Adria, Italy 5/3/1945. In October 2017, the wreckage of Spitfire PT410 was located by aviation archeologists, and when it was unearthed, it was discovered that the pilot was still in the cockpit. DNA samples extracted from the pilots remains were matched with a relative (a niece who lives in York, North Yorkshire, UK) which allowed the pilot to be identified as Warrant Officer John Henry Coates (RAFVR, Service Number 1147865, aged 24). According to contemporary newspaper reports (see links #2,#3, & #4):

"A York war hero who was killed when his Spitfire was shot down over Italy is to finally be laid to rest 74 years later – after archaeologists discovered his body. John Henry Coates, 24, took off in one of six RAF Spitfires from 111 Squadron from Rimini Airfield on March 5, 1945.

They were on a bombing mission, with barges moored on a canal close to Venice their target. His plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed close to the village of Cavarzere in north east Italy. Warrant Officer Coates was reported missing in action, and his immediate family died without knowing how or where he had died.

But in October 2017 his remains and the wreckage of his plane were discovered by members of the Romagna Air Finders, an organisation which recovers Second World War aircraft. Warrant Officer Coates will be laid to rest at Padua War Cemetery on March 27 [2019].

He was born in 1921 and had worked as a draughtsman in York while living at home with his parents John and Eliza Coates. He was in a reserved occupation but volunteered for the RAF and he trained as a pilot. By early 1945 he was flying Spitfire Mark 1Xs with 111 Squadron. He was based near Rimini supporting operations to drive the German forces out of Italy.

On the day of his death he should have been on leave but swapped duties to fly with a team of 6 RAF Spitfires on a mission to target barges. His plane was excavated after the Romagna Air Finders were told by locals an aircraft had crashed near Cavarzere village in the 1940s.

An appeal to find his family was launched and his niece, Helen Watts, 65, told the Mail: "Myself and my siblings grew up knowing that our uncle had gone missing towards the end of World War II. It is absolutely amazing that he has been found all these years later. This is the kind of thing that only ever happens to someone else. We had always thought his plane had gone down close to Lake Como, so it was a surprise he was discovered elsewhere. Sadly none of his siblings, including my mother, lived to see the day. They would have been thrilled by the news. The whole family is delighted that he will now be given a hero’s burial."


1. Air-Britain Royal Air Force Aircraft PA100-RZ999


Related books:

Revision history:

29-Sep-2013 06:26 JINX Added
04-Mar-2014 10:30 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
22-Mar-2019 15:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description