VICKERS WELLINGTON 1c T2888
On the evening of the 11/12th February 1941, Wellington T2888 was part of a Bomber Command force sent to bomb Bremen. Everything went to plan until they tried to return to their base at RAF Newmarket Heath only to find it shrouded in fog and with a cloud base down to 150 feet.
Attempts were made to land at other 3 Group airfields without success and upon seeing the searchlight beam up through the dense fog, the decision was taken to bale out – sadly with dire consequences for two of the crew, as, unbeknown to them they had baled out over “Welney Wash” a half mile strip of water, part of the Fens drainage system.
Three of the crew were fortunate enough to land on dry ground, one managed to swim out of the Wash but tragically two perished in the dark freezing waters, as sad twist of fate! Following the baling out of the aircraft, it flew on until it ran out of fuel and then crashed at Stags Holt near March, Cambridgeshire
SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE 11a P7913
All the artifacts related to P7913 are on display at the museum, such as the engine and crank shaft, which were recovered from a range of depths between 8 feet and 26 feet at the crash site at Marshland Fen. This named Spitfire, named the “City of Birmingham 1V” was recovered in 1985.
The pilot, Flight Lieutenant George Frederick Beurling DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar, baled out and went on to become the highest scoring Canadian fighter pilot of the Second World War with 34 confirmed kills!
CONSOLIDATED LIBERATOR GR.V. RAF COASTAL COMMAND
On the 29 March 1943, Liberator FL 950 of 224 Squadron RAF Coastal Command took off from the runway at RAF Beaulieu, Hampshire and headed for the Atlantic Ocean to take part in an operational Anti-Submarine Patrol. It was searching for, and if found, attack U-Boats. Completing 12hrs and 45 minutes the aircraft returned to RAF Beaulieu only to find that the aircraft’s radio and radar had become unserviceable and RAF Beaulieu closed because of low cloud and fog. It was diverted to RAF Mildenhall, but with no radio the Navigator tried to find it with dead-reckoning but that didn’t work. After flying around the area until the fuel became critical, the decision was made to climb to 7000 feet and abandon the aircraft, thankfully this was completed successfully. Following the crew baling out, the aircraft then dived and crashed into Whittlesey Wash, which is part of the Fens drainage system, at 23.00 hours.
Due to high winds, the crew were scattered between Peterborough and March which also caused injuries to five of the crew upon impacting with the ground at high speed! The 1st Pilot, F/O C .Moore, 126687, went on to survive the war and flew with BOAC. The 2nd pilot, F/O J.E. Jenkinson, 411410 (NZ) was killed on operations on 12 December 1944. The museum also traced the Navigator, F/O K.B. Seal who, in his many correspondence’s, helped us to fill out the story of the crew baling out. Also traced was P.O R.C. Randall, who before being posted to Coastal Command had previously served with Bomber Command and was instrumental in getting the aircraft to the RAF Mildenhall area.