Dog walkers stumbled upon the wreckage of a WWII RAF fighter plane – hidden under the sand on the beach where it crashed 76 years ago.
Debi Hartley, 51, took a walk with partner Graham Holden, 54, and their dog Bonnie when they made the “one in a million” discovery.
The plane’s carcass was revealed in a secret spot on Cleethorpes Beach, with its wings poking through the drifting sand.
The RAF confirmed that the wreck is one of their Bristol Beaufighter, believed to be the serial number of the JM333 aircraft belonging to 254 Squadron RAF.
It is said to have flown at night to torpedo enemy ships into the North Sea as part of the Air Force’s Coastal Command Strike Wing.
But the service was cut off in 1944 when the engines blew shortly after takeoff from the RAF’s North Coates base in Lincolnshire,
It was forced to make an emergency, “wheels up,” and crashed on Cleethorpes Beach.
Debi said, “We were walking our dog on Cleethorpes beach when we saw these unusual objects.
“My partner has been walking up and down these beaches for over 20 years and has never found anything like it.
“It was so unexpected and incredible.
“We tried to figure out what it was and only stood around for 45 minutes.
“I’ve never seen anything so great in my life.
“It was a one in a million find.”
The couple spent nearly an hour scanning the wreck on Bank Holiday Monday and they haven’t stopped talking about the find since.
The mother of three, from Cleethorpes, Lincs, said, “It feels like you’ve come across a piece of history – it was just great.
“Finding it made up for our day and we have now researched everything about it.
“We haven’t talked about it since.
Apparently both pilots walked out of the crash alive, which is great to hear. I wonder if they knew that after all these years their plane was still here. ‘
Head of the collections at the Royal Air Force Museum in London, Ian Thirsk, said that the pilot, Sargeant A.W. Burborough and his navigator survived the crash.
Mr. Thirsk said, “On April 21, 1944, the JM333 collapsed near Haille Sands when both engines failed from North Coates shortly after takeoff. The crew was unharmed and escaped safety. ‘
An incident log says: “The aircraft had a starboard engine failure at 500 feet during an introductory flight.
“This forced the pilot to make a forced landing on the beach just outside the edge of the airport.
“Neither wound was reported by Sgt A.W.Burborough or his navigator. The aircraft was considered a total depreciation and the wreckage is still visible.”
The Bristol Beaufighter was first introduced into the war on July 27, 1940, and nearly 6,000 were built between 1940 and 1946.