Missing World War II plane found by divers and identified
DIVERS have discovered the wreckage of a Second World War bomber 69 years after it crashed into the sea off Falmouth.
They believe the Vickers Wellington Bomber was on an evening navigation exercise over Falmouth in October 1944 when the pilot lost control. The aircraft broke up on impact, scattering wreckage at the base of a reef 30 metres down.
A diver who discovered wreckage in the Eighties kept it a close secret, shrouding the story in mystery – until now.
Falmouth diver Ben Dunstan first heard about the plane seven years ago.
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He said: "The skipper had heard of the whereabouts of an old Second World War aeroplane that had been reported by fishermen."
They could not find the wreckage, but over the next few years, Mr Dunstan bought his own boat and starting looking for new dive sites with friends, including Jason Roseveare.
"I started asking local fishermen and older divers about the plane," he said. "Several had heard about aluminium coming up in nets and dredges, but local divers assured us it was a myth. Clubs have dived the area for many years and never had any definite proof of plane wreckage."
After several more dives, the trail of wreckage led to a large radial engine and other identifiable parts, such as the aluminium frame, fuselage sections, landing gear rams and part of a large wiring loom from the cockpit area.
Following research and more dives, Mr Dunstan now believes he has identified the plane as the Vickers Wellington X LP610 bomber from 24 Operational Training Unit based at Honeybourne, Worcestershire.
It may have flown out of RAF Davidstow Moor, near Camelford, on October 17, 1944, the day it crashed. The crash log states three crew were rescued, with the other three reported missing – Flight Officer NC Dumont, Flight Sergeant RC Orrock and Sergeant EJ Post, all from the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Mr Roseveare said the plane was first discovered by John Ellis, from Seaways Dive Centre in Penryn, who confirmed its identity with the RAF Signals Museum in Bedfordshire. But he kept it to himself to protect the military remains and the graves.
Mr Roseveare, who serves in the RAF, said: "This is the grave of some of my fellow servicemen and should be treated as such."
Mr Dunstan said: "When we first contacted John about it he refused to tell us anything, but since I have e-mailed him telling him it was a Wellington bomber that he found all those years ago, and he told me he knew all along."