Stallode Spitfire

To train Bomber Commands pilots and and air-gunners in dealing with enemy fighter attacks, fighter affiliation and gunnery exercises were carried out. These involved mainly Wellingtons and either Hurricanes or Spitfires.

Two aircraft of Central Gunnery School took off from Sutton Bridge at 11:30 on 13 August 1943 for the exercise and both had crashed a half an hour later with the loss of seven lives. The Wellington flown by Flt/Lt E.M. Shannon with five crew on board and in this case a Spitfire II, P7530, collided North-West of Lakenheath, Suffolk. Cause was attributed to the Spitfire pilot, Flt/Lt H.C. Bennett, misjudgeding the forward momentum of his machine on breakaway, but with a contributory factor of the Wellington pilot changing his position during an attack.

The Spitfire lost its port wing and spun into the ground inverted, killing Bennett instantly. The Wellington, P9228, flew on for a short distance before plunging into the ground a few fields away on the same farm at Stallode Fen.

The Wellington was dug by the Anglian Aeronautic Preservation Society, but the Spitfire had been difficult to locate, finally being pinpointed some years later. As the aircraft had crashed inverted, the small amount that remained was mainly from the cockpit area, including pieces of the instrument panel, instruments, radio, first aid kit, and the cockpit door.

 

 

Above; left is the first aid kit carrier, right is a roll sticking plaster from the kit.

Below; left, shortly after finding the site and right, a piece of the Bakelite instrument panel.

 

An RAF Lockheed Ventura crashed roughly halfway between the Wellington and Spitfire, and a Lancaster and a B50 also came down on the same farm.