Pieces may be famous Lancaster

PARTS of an aircraft being washed ashore at Felixstowe could be from a Lancaster bomber, crashed into the sea during war-time by its crew to avert a disaster.

PARTS of an aircraft being washed ashore at Felixstowe could be from a Lancaster bomber, crashed into the sea during war-time by its crew to avert a disaster.

An expert who has now studied the pieces found by beachcombers reckons they could be from the plane, which ditched into the sea in August 1944, about half a mile from the pier.

Seven brave young airmen sacrificed their own lives by ditching the crippled plane instead of letting it crash on to the town.

Expert Tony Dyer, who has been collecting aircraft parts since he was 13, met up with staff at Felixstowe Museum to view the assorted pieces of aircraft found on the East beach, near the Fludyers in Undercliff Road East.

“I am 99 per cent certain that these parts belonged to a Lancaster and if so that would have been the one which went down near the pier as the wreckage is still out there,” he said.

“I will be going down to Hendon this weekend and I am going to see if I can match some of the more recognisable sections and take photographs.

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“There was some cockpit green paint on some sections and a lot of black.

“It is quite surprising how large some of the parts are and it will be quite something to have it on display in Felixstowe Museum as the crash of the plane was a major event in the town's history. I have given them some advice on ways of conserving it.”

Mr Dyer, a flight test engineer at Boscombe Down, began his collection of aircraft parts when he grew up in Felixstowe.

He has found parts of a Wellington bomber on the beach, and his grandfather found a canopy from a Mustang fighter on the beach by the golf course.

More than a dozen pieces of aluminium fuselage, mostly shiny silver, scoured by the shingle and the waves over the decades, leaving them shiny silver, have so far been found from the Lancaster.

It was first thought that they were from a P-38 Lightning, a P-47 Thunderbolt or P-51 Mustang.

Have you found anything interesting on Felixstowe beach? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Factfile: The Lancaster crash

The Lancaster was heading back from a raid on a V1 launch site in France to Methwold, Norfolk, when the plane was hit by enemy fire.

As it reached Felixstowe it suffered serious problems. Many of the town's 8,775 residents - 5,000 had been evacuated for the war - poured on to the streets when they heard the plane.

People could only watch helplessly as the crew, knowing their fate, steered away from homes and ditched in the sea, 1,200 yards off the shore..

The airmen who died were Flt Lt Douglas Charles Haggis; Flying Officer Glyn Davies Mathias, who is buried in the war graves in Felixstowe Cemetery; Sgt William Augustus Dyer; Flying Officer Charles Bryce Oxenham; Flt Sgt Ernest George Murray; Sgt George Covell; and Sgt Angus Craig.

In 2001 they were honoured when a granite plaque in their memory was unveiled on Felixstowe Town Hall at a special ceremony.

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