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Friday, 20 February 2009

Pennine Aircraft Wreckage




The previous post about Whernside drew a comment from one Sean of http://peakwreckhunters.blogspot.com/ about air crash sites. Back in March 2008, I'd had a walk up Great Whernside and had accidentally come across a wooden cross and some aircraft wreckage. I posted about this on here http://www.walkingforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,1068.0.html
and there was a little bit of discussion about it which ultimately came to a sort of conclusion that the particular wreckage was most probably that of a Mosquito which came to grief on 13 December 1948. One of the posters - a chap called Pete, had talked to the keeper who had been first on the scene.
I don't deliberately seek out aircraft wreckage, but wanderers in the Pennines and, indeed on most UK hills will often come across undercarrieges, bits of wings, engines, wiress and all kinds of detritus.
One piece I found in Kielder forest was a bit puzzling, though, because it looked quite recent (pic above) It was lying on the grass in a forest ride, and the tree next to it had had it's top broken off. The piece was a couple of feet square and showed some signs of burning and, possibly, of explosion. I don't know exactly what it was, although I have some suspicions. If anybody has any clues.....
Back to Great Whernside - apparently there were at least another three crashes on it during WWII - a Halifax, a Whitley and a B17. There's also a well-known memorial to Polish airmen who died on the neighbouring Buckden Pike.
Its an awful toll. It would seem that aviation in WW2, and, shortly afterwards, was a highly dangerous business, notwithstanding anything that enemy action might add. The Halifax crash in particular was one of several that failed to return from a navigation training exercise on the same night. Its all very sad and these sites deserve respect for the people who perished.


11 comments:

Tykelad said...

Its all very sad and these sites deserve respect for the people who perished.
----------------

Couldn't agree more Mike and a very interesting post.

I went to Elvington Air Museum a year or two back and as well as seeing the magnficent restored Halifax bomber 'Friday The Thirteenth' (one of only two in the world) I also had the pleasure of talking for a little while to an old chap who flew in one during the war. A great experience :)

mike knipe said...

Cheers Tykelad. We had a Spitfire doing loopies over the gala field at Alston gala last year. Very "assertive" engine sounds. You'd want one of those on your side.
I think I'd have been in the catering side, though....

Tykelad said...

It's generally thought that it was the Spitfire or Hurricane that won us the Battle of Britain.

Few acknowledge that it was really the cheese sandwiches, sausage rolls and heavily sugared tea that really saw off the Luftwaffe!!

mike knipe said...

We should never underestimate the battle winning properties of a good, fatty sausage roll. Or a pie, obviously.
And sweet tea. I'm sure you're right about sweet tea.... a good, old British standy-by in times of crisis and emotional distress.
Y'see, thats where we have it over Johnny Foreigner. No sweet tea, y'see... Stands to reason. (Thanks to Richmal Crompton for the last quote)

Sean said...

Definitely a bit of 'plane. Was it near the area around Grey's Pike? That's the only site in Kielder Forest I can find. That would make it a bit of Miles Master W8479, downed in December 1941.

mike knipe said...

Sean -The piece of aircraft was on the East side of Glendhu Hill at approximately NY582865, possibly a bit lower down towards Lewis Burn.
It was an isolated piece and there may have been fairly old damage to a nearby tree, which was broken at the top. There was no other wreckage as far as I could see. (although the forest is fairly thick, there).
The piece was about a metre square, I'd guess and there was some material around the rivets on one side - like a lining of some sort. The pic doesnt show it very well, but the edges of the metal were bent outwards.
I could probably find it again - its a long walk, though!

mike knipe said...

Eck! - Ive now got adverts for "fear of flying" courses!

Anonymous said...

The wreckage you found on Glendhu Hill is almost certainly part of Halifax DK116 which crashed up slope from the Lewis Burn in October 1944.

I would be interested to hear from you if you have stumbled across any other wrecks in this area or the North Pennines/Cheviot's.

Jim
jim.corbett@acia.co.uk

mike knipe said...

I'll certainly let you know if I stumble across anything that looks like bits of aircraft, Jim. Infcat, I'll make sure I mention it on this very blog....

Anonymous said...

More modern aircraft debris that you find in Kielder could also be from Pan Am 103 that was blown up over Lockerbie - The high altitude winds blew alot of debris across kielder forest and pieces are still found today.

Mike Knipe said...

I had a suspicion about this when I found it, specially as a nearby tree appeared to be damaged, having lost it's top.
I'm not sure I could find it again, though as I was a bit off-route.