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COTO, Alexander James (1909-1942) +

COTO, Alexander James (1909-1942)

'Lex' Coto (Football 1927).

'Lex' Coto (Football 1927).

Alexander James Coto was the son of Dr Daniel Samuel Coto and Ethel Louisa nee Jackson and one of three brothers to attend the College during the 1920s, the others being Ralph Jackson Coto (1908-1993) and Dr John Halliday Coto (1912-1962). He was born at Koroit on 30 June 1909.

He first attended Warrnambool High School before entering Geelong College for his education from 1925 to 1927. ‘Alex’ played in the 1st Football XVIII in 1926 and 1927 and was a member of the Athletics Team of 1927, running the hurdles at the Combined Sports.

'Entering the Education Department, he concentrated on physical ‘culture’, taking a specialist course at the University, and applied his enthusiasm to the training of boys in scouting and church clubs, where his patience and good humour brought him remarkable success. In the RAAF he reached the rank of Sgt-Pilot, and was killed when two bomber aircraft collided in mid-air near Bairnsdale on August 27, 1942’ . The Alexander and John Coto Memorial Prize was named in memory of Alexander and his brother Dr John Halliday Coto.

During World War II, he enlisted (No. 408361) in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and reached the rank of Sergeant Pilot, training at 1 Operational Training Unit Bairnsdale.

In 1941, he married Mary Isobel Murphy, the daughter of George Brush Murphy and Penelope nee Baird, of Stawell, and they lived at Heidelberg at the time of his enlistment.

He was killed when two bomber aircraft (A9-85 and A9-88) collided in mid-air five miles north-west of Bairnsdale on 27 August 1942. The crew of A9-85 were Sgt Alexander James Coto, the pilot who was killed in the accident, Sgt Alan William Baxter (navigator), Sgt Keith Goodfellow (WAG) and Sgt Edwin Raymond McMullen (WAG), who all survived the accident. The crew of A9-88 were F /L RA Ridgway (pilot), Sgt Robert Callander, and Sgt SA Pope. Callender, the son of Harry McCahon and Emily Mary (Paley) Callander, of East Geelong, was later killed on 2 January 1944 in A9-313 while serving with 8 Squadron; he has no known grave, but his name is commemorated on the Rabaul Memorial.

Alexander Coto was buried at Sale Public Cemetery, Grave B.25 (Presbyterian), leaving a widow and baby daughter.

Sources: Pegasus January 1943 pp 10, 62-3; Pegasus June 1943 p 47; 'Geelong Collegians at the Second World War and other Conflicts' compiled by J Affleck p28 (citing The Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; Commonwealth War Graves Commission).
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