03 March 2017

Richard Bath

The source of this medal was another odd one but in recent times it seems to be a more frequent occurrence. This story started for me yesterday when an email was forwarded to me by Peter of 75 Squadron RAAF association. The original email was from Chantelle S who had a medal that her father found while prospecting. This is the third time in recent months where a medal or dog tag was found under similar circumstances. 
This particular medal is the 1939-45 Star awarded to 420116 Flying Officer Richard William Raven Bath, 75 Squadron.  Richard was killed in 1944 when his Kittyhawk airplane collided with another one.
This table is a history of the aircraft.
A29-407 P-40N-1-CU 42-104820 7/43 served with 78 Sqn and 75 Sqn; on 2/8/43 it was received by 78 Sqn from 2 AD; on 18/12/43 the port undercarriage collapsed when ran into a hole while taxiing back to dispersal with F/Sgt Anthony Gordon Goodwin (413985) being uninjured; on 5/1/44 it was received back at 78 Sqn again after repairs; on 3/5/44 it was received back at 78 Sqn from 22 RSU; on 20/6/44 it was allocated to 75 Sqn as a replacement a/c having been sent to 22 RSU from 78 Sqn earlier in the month; on 9/8/44 it collided with A29-571 during a turn and crashed into the jungle south-east of Cape Sawasar killing F/O Richard William Raven Bath (420116); sometime prior to 23/10/46 the aircraft was found almost intact with F/O Bath still inside and he was given a full military burial.

Richard was subsequently buried at the Ambon War Cemetery.
After I received Chantelle's request for help, it didn't take long to narrow down Richard's family. Richard's father was a solicitor and it appears that he moved around NSW quite a bit.The family eventually settled on the Central Coast but they lived at several addresses around Newcastle. The best lead I had was a Ronald Bath who was at the same address and his mother in 1954. What I couldn't work out was the relationship between Richard and Ronald. Following a hunch I looked in the White Pages and there was an entry for Ronald in a near by suburb. I rang the number only to find that Ronald died 5 years ago but he was Richard's brother.
The picture below includes Richard's mug shots from his service record.
The returned medal tally is now 2023.

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