A nice pair of Bristols..
Bristol Beaufort AW345
(Distance covered =
2.0 mile/Ascent =+49m)
Bristol Beaufighter LZ294 on Moss of Badarclay
(Distance covered = 1.5 mile/Ascent =+23m)
After an epic walk around the Scarabens the day before I opted to visit a couple of crashsites that were short distances on day 4 of my 2018 Walking Holiday. In fact the first one I visited would have only involved a walk of less than 10metres if I hadn't of gone off to check out 2 other grid references where wreckage was reported to have been found.
I had an O/S and a GPS reference for the Beaufort on Tannoch Hill, there was also supposed to be the remains of a Chain Home Radar Installation in the vicinity as well, so I planned on parking up a lane marked on the map so I could check that out on the way to the crashsite. The lane was single track with nowhere to park, it lead into the private grounds of a house where I could see an elderley couple busy tending their garden. I drove in and asked the old man if it was OK if I turned around, he asked me where it was I was trying to get to and when I was busy explaining that I was wanting to go and check out the nearby crashsite his wife came over and told me the Beaufort had actually crashed in the corner of the field adjacent to their house.
above and below:- Where the Beaufort crashed. I found no pieces here but there could be something buried. I definately need to put a metal detector on my christmas list!(crash details)
The old lady had lived here all her life and she described to me in detail how the Beaufort had flown in from the sea, clipped the top of a nearby Chain Home Radar mast and then crashed in a large fireball in the corner of the field. She also showed me the spot where the torpedo the Beaufort was carrying had ended up on the lawn in front of their house. They had kept a piece of the Beaufort but unfortunately they couldn't remember where it was to show me. The old boy had also made a trailer from what he described as a rather sturdy girder that was knocked off the top of the radar mast. He told me that wreckage from the mast had been flung for quite a distance with some of it ending up on the other side of the woods behind their house, this was interesting as one of the grid references I had where Beaufort wreckage was reported to have been found turned out to be on the other side of the woods behind their house.
The Beaufort's torpedo ended up on this lawn between the two trees.
I don't usually put a crashsite on my list of 'Crashsites found' unless I find a piece of the Aircraft or a memorial in the vicinity of where the crash occured, but on this occasion I figured an eyewitness walking along the lane with me and pointing at the exact spot was good enough for this one to qualify. As well as giving me a detailed description of the Beauforts demise the Old Couple also told me about a German Aircraft that had crashed not too far away while trying to attack a dummy airfield. They remembered it being taken away on the back of a Lorry. Unfortunately I didn't have time to go and check that one out.
Setting off to check the 2 grid refs on Tannoch Hill.
Even though I'd found the Beaufort's crashsite I still headed off across the
moor to check out the other 2 grid refs, perhaps the wreckage found there
might actually be from a Whitley that also crashed on Tannoch Hill,
exact whereabouts unknown!
I did find wreckage at the O/S grid reference but it was just some wheels from an old lorry and there was nothing to be found at the GPS reference, but that location did match the description the old man gave of where some wreckage was flung when the Beaufort collided with the mast..
Again a metal detector might have found something in the long grass and boggy ground but again I didn't have one!
I was in two mind whether or not to drive another 10 mile further north to have a look for the Beaufighter crashsite as it was lying in a bog and I didn't have a grid reference for it's location. There was also some doubt if there would be anything there to be found as this site had been the victim of unnauthorised recovery operations as well. I eventually decided as I was this close and I might never get the oppotunity again I may as well nip up and have a quick recce!
Parked on the verge adjacent to strath Farm.
Although I didn't have a grid ref, Stuart had given me some directions to where he thought the Beaufighter had crashed. There is a nice straight track that runs west from the public road across to some cottages, the Beaufighter was believed to have crashed on a flat bit of moorland more or less in line with the end of the track and if I reached a large boundry fence/ditch going diagonally across the moor then I had gone too far.
Walking along the track towards Riverside cottages, if I kept going in this direction when the track ended I should end up in the vicinity of the Beaufighter crashsite.
Of course continuing in a straight line once the track had ended was never going to be as easy as it sounds and I soon had to make several diversions to avoid obstacles on the way.
!st diversion, over to a bridge to get over a river.
2nd diversion, into another field to avoid some brown cows, brown cows always seem to take great delight in chasing me!
3rd diversion, trying to find a way around a very wet bog.
Once I was on to the moor it was a lot easier to walk in a straight line and luckily after all the diversions I was still able to see the lane so was able to line myself back up with it. However, now it was possible to walk in a straight line I didn't, instead I made zigzags to improve my chances of finding something. The moor was very flat and the vegetation was not too high so anything of any size should have been easy to spot, but by the time I reached the diagonal boundry ditch/fence I had found nothing.
Yet another windfarm.
Approaching the boundry that ran diagonally across the moor.
After reaching the boundry fence I knew I had gone too far so turned around and started back towards the car. On the way back I continued with the zigzags but a little further south than on the way out. As I was finishing about the third zig to the south and just about to start a zag to the north I got lucky and walked right onto a tiny piece of alluminium sticking up out of some spaggy moss.
Very lucky to spot this sticking out of the vegetation.
Not far to the south of where I found the first small piece was a scar containing more pieces of the Beaufighter including some 20mm cannon shells. There was also some larger bits scattered around the area.
20mm Cannon Shell.
Above and below:- A couple of larger pieces found scattered on the moor. These pieces were concealed in a hole, If the bit below had been standing up like that I would have spotted it from a mile away!(more wreckage photos)
The spot where I found the first timy bit of the Beaufighter sticking up out of the spaggy moss could quite possibly be where one of the Beaufighters engines lies buried as the recovery crews at the time of the crash were unable to extract it. As well as the engine there may also be a Halftrack buried somewhere on this moor as it is believed an Army unit dispatched two Halftracks to the scene of the Beaufighter crash. They approached from Pennyland to the north and instead of utilising any farm gates they just smashed through any fences they encountered and to make matters worse they were travelling side by side so made two holes in all the fences. One of the Halftracks became stuck in spaggy moss and sunk, the crew of the other Halftrack, after rescuing the crew of the sinking one, tied a rope to it and worked out that it sank down well over thirty feet.
This could possibly be the mud filled hole where one of the engines still lies buried.
We rendevouzed in a layby down near Berriedale then went and had a quick search at one possible location for the crashsite of B24 Liberator BZ720. All we found was a largish piece of perspex, but it was impossible to tell for sure if it even originated from an aircraft.