Junkers Ju 88 A5 Werke No. 8138 - Banks Marsh
7/8th April 1941
Last updated: 27.07.2018

Ju 88 A4
Ju 88 A4 (Visually similar to the A5) - Note externally mounted bomb load
Type Werke No. Unit Base Duty Crew
Ju 88 A5 8138 II Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 54 Saint-André-de-l'Eure, Normandy, France Night Bombing Raid 4

During WW2 our region was largely associated with training of aircrews and aircraft building and maintenance, seeing relatively little of the intense aerial combat witnessed by the southern counties, despite the cities of Manchester and Liverpool suffering heavy and sustained bombing campaigns by the Luftwaffe. The relative paucity of aerial combat over the region has meant that the few incidents that did take place have received considerable attention from other groups in the past, but one has always eluded all those who have attempted to find the crash site of the Ju 88 shot down over the Ribble estuary marshes. Our research into this incident began in the early 1980s, with information drawn from numerous official records, local archives and interviews with individuals who were either directly involved or witnessed the event and its immediate aftermath. However our early visits to the marsh only highlighted the sheer size of the potential area to be searched as well as the inadequacies of metal detecting equipment available at the time and it was not until the late 1990s that we began to search seriously for the crash site.

Following a brief respite over the winter of 1940, Spring 1941 had seen a renewed Luftwaffe bombing campaign against Britain, which from March to June was directed against the country's major ports, with heavy attacks on Liverpool, Belfast, Clydebank, Hull and Plymouth. The night of 7/8th April 1941 was a busy one for the Luftwaffe with some 517 aircraft involved in offensive operations against Britain, with Luftflotte 2 and 3 mainly targeting the Clydeside / Glasgow port areas, with Greenock, Dumbarton and Hillington all being designated targets. However, as on previous raids on Clydeside targets, the bombing of the intended military targets proved far from effective due to effective anti-aircraft protection around the intended military targets, which saw most of the bombs falling on residential areas. On the night of the 7/8th April, the raiders had the added obstacle of  poor visibility over Clydeside with only 179 of the raiders actually releasing their bombs in the intended target area and many raiders having to turn way and head for their assigned alternative targets. One of the raiders on that April night was Ju 88 A-5 Werke Nr. 8138, Code B3+IN of II Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 54, based at Saint-André-de-l'Eure in the Normandy region of northern France. This aircraft was one of seven Ju 88s from II/KG 54 taking part in the raid and it took off on the evening of Monday the 7th April loaded with two SC500 bombs mounted on its external bomb racks, destined for Greenock - the primary target for some 200 raiders that night. The crew for the flight comprised; 30 year old Oblt. Gunter Klemm (pilot), 25 year old Lt. Heinrich Coster (navigator), 26 year old Fw. Alfred Helmut Michael Hofmann (radio operator) and 25 year old Fw. Hermann Ilse (flight mechanic). However despite reaching the target area successfully, the crew found their primary target obscured by dense cloud. Although some 97 aircraft did attack Greenock, dropping 102 tonnes of High Explosive bombs (Blitz Then & Now Vol: 2), Klemm's crew and some 100 other raiders were ordered to fly on to their secondary targets, most heading for Liverpool and Bristol.

At around 23:30 hours Klemm's Ju 88 was one of around 40 raiders, all individually approaching their designated secondary objective of Liverpool and presumably the crew had begun looking out for their target - the docks area. They were flying in a moonlit, clear sky at approx 10,000 feet, with a cloud layer below at approx 5000 - 6000 feet and found themselves heading towards an anti-aircraft barrage on the outskirts of the city. Unknown to the crew, but probably not unexpected, a number of RAF night fighters - Defiants from No. 256 Squadron, based at RAF Squires Gate near Blackpool  - were also on patrol over the city, providing defensive cover in anticipation of an expected attack. In fact, not far from the Ju 88 another drama was playing out over Southport when at around the same time, one of the RAF night fighters was getting into serious difficulties.  Defiant N1694 had taken off earlier that night, piloted by Flight Sgt. J. Stenton, with his gunner Sgt W. Ross. However, during the patrol their aircraft suffered a major electrical equipment failure, resulting in the crew electing to abandon the aircraft, leaving their aircraft to crash on farmland close to Lowlands Farm, Halsall near Southport at 23.45.

At 23:43 hours another No. 256 Squadron crew, who were waiting at readiness at Squires Gate, were ordered to take off and patrol  at 10,000 feet over the north west coastal area. They were; Flt. Lt. Donald Rock West (pilot) and Sgt. Reginald Thomas Adams (air gunner), both aged 20 and their aircraft was a Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.1 N3445, coded "JT - F". They were both relatively experienced on Defiants - West having flown his first sortie in August 1940 with No. 141 Squadron and Adams, with 264 Squadron  in September. Both had joined No. 256 Squadron in December that year, being paired up as a crew together and with West becoming  'A' Flight Commander. At 23:45 the Defiant climbed above the cloud layer, which was by then 10/10ths at 3000 feet and climbed to 10,000ft, where they began to circle slowly, but saw nothing. With no orders, or information on activity in their vicinity, received by radio from operations, Flt. Lt. West decided to head towards the Anti-Aircraft Barrage which he could see was active over Liverpool. As the shellbursts appeared to be at around 10,000ft, he increased height to 11,000ft and then followed a course of 180° for several minutes. Suddenly Sgt. Adams reported an aircraft at ‘9 o’clock below’ silhouetted in the moonlight against the lower cloud layer. West immediately looked in the direction indicted and saw what he described as an "ugly looking silhouette" approximately 100 feet below them and to their port side.

Oblt. Gunter Klemm (right) at the controls of a He III in 1940. (Photo: Klemm family via Russell Brown) No. 256 Squadron crews pose next to one of their Defiants - Flt. Lt. D.R. West sits on the wing - top row, furthest to the right and Sgt. R.T. Adams directly below him - bottom row third from the left. (Photo: Russell Brown Collection)
Oblt. Gunter Klemm (right) at the controls of a He III in 1940. (Photo: Klemm family via Russell Brown) No. 256 Squadron crews pose next to one of their Defiants - Flt. Lt. D.R. West sits on the wing - top row, furthest to the right and Sgt. R.T. Adams directly below him - bottom row third from the left. (Photo: Russell Brown Collection)

Name Age Position Fate
Oblt. Gunter Klemm 30 Pilot I.
Lt. Heinrich Coster
25 Navigator I.
Fw. Alfred Helmut Michael Hofmann26Radio OperatorK.
Fw. Hermann Ilse25Flight MechanicK.

With the other aircraft positively identified as a Ju88 by Sgt. Adams, Flt. Lt. West now decided to carry out Fighter Command attack ‘A’ and began by diving below and away from the target aircraft. This put his Defiant some 3000 yards in front and 1000 feet below the enemy raider and from this position West manoeuvred his aircraft by gently pulling the nose up and using right rudder until he was about 150 yards below and 200 yards to the starboard side of the raider. As the Ju 88 overtook the Defiant slightly, apparently unaware of the night fighter's presence, Flt. Lt. West ordered his gunner to open fire and Sgt. Adams fired a two second burst, accurately targeting the starboard engine, which immediately burst into flames. The crew of the Ju88, clearly now alerted to the presence of the Defiant, returned fire from the upper rear gun position, firing  several short bursts, all of which passed well above the Defiant, leading Flt. Lt. West to conclude that the enemy gunner could not depress his gun enough to fire accurately.  He then closed to 100 yards from the enemy aircraft and Sgt Adams fired a one and half second burst, again targeting  the starboard engine, which became even more engulfed in flames and the Ju 88 began to lose speed and height. At this point Flt. Lt. West manoeuvred the Defiant ahead of and slightly below the Ju 88 to give his gunner a better chance of firing into the cockpit and proceeded cross from side to side across the Ju 88's nose. Again the night fighter came under return fire, this time from the upper front gun position, but again the enemy's tracer bullets showed that the line of fire was too high and passed harmlessly above them. Sgt. Adams responded with two one and a half second bursts of fire towards the gun positions and into the cockpit, noting the explosive "de Wilde" bullets (almost certainly actually British B Mark VI incendiary bullets -  often termed "de Wilde" at the time) bursting inside the glazed nose of the enemy aircraft and the return fire immediately ceased.

By this point the Ju-88's fate was undoubtedly sealed and Flt. Lt. West was forced to break away to port as the crippled enemy aircraft began a shallow dive above him. He then  executed a steep 360 degree turn in order the position his Defiant to the enemy aircraft's port side for another attack, but no such coup de grace was needed, as suddenly the Ju 88 went into a steep dive and entered the cloud layer below. On board the stricken bomber the situation must have been chaos - the aircraft was by now well alight and described by some witnesses on the ground as resembling "a flaming streak" as it dived out of the base of the cloud layer. As the Ju88 descended, one of the 500kg bombs was jettisoned and the crew prepared to bail out. First to leave was Lt Coster, followed by Oblt. Klemm, the pilot, who was badly wounded and then the radio operator, Fw. Hofmann, who for reasons unknown took one of the aircraft's radio sets with him when he jumped! The flight engineer Fw. Ilse did not mange to leave the aircraft, probably due to having either been too badly wounded or killed during the battle.

The falling bomber was by this point heading in a northerly direction towards the town of Lytham, but it gradually turned as it passed over the Ribble estuary and impacted on the edge of the marshes bordering the south side of the river channel near the village of  Banks. The Defiant followed its victim down through the cloud layer, emerging just in time for West and Adams to observe a vivid red flash on impact and then witness the blazing wreckage of the Ju88, as they continued back to RAF Squires Gate, landing at 00.12hrs on the 8th April, where it was later noted that they had fired 621 rounds during the engagement. Unfortunately any celebrations of what was No. 256 Squadrons first victory, must have been tempered by the loss at 04:50 that morning of two crew members; Sgt. John Denis Harold Cunningham (pilot) and Sgt. Albert Douglas Wood (air gunner, RNZAF) who were both killed when Defiant N3424 lost height and crashed on takeoff from Squires Gate.

At around midnight, numerous locals who had been alerted by the sound of the combat overhead, now witnessed the Ju88 explode as it struck the marsh, with such force that many assumed the remaining bomb load on the aircraft had detonated. Press reports the following day spoke of "a real pyrotechnic display as the blazing plane became the seat of numerous minor explosions" and how " various coloured lights burst from the blazing wreckage". Three civilians from Lytham, on the north side of the river, waded out across the river channel which was at low tide, heading in the direction of the burning wreckage. However, they soon heard shouts for help in heavily accented English and found the wounded pilot, Oblt. Klemm  with his right arm badly smashed and  carried him back to the embankment at the edge of the marsh where he was handed over to the Police and then taken to Lytham Hospital. On the south side of the river members of the Home Guard, Police and Civil Defence organisations set out onto the marsh towards the wreckage, which continued to burn for several hours and began a search for the crew. Lt Coster, who had landed close to the main river channel and walked along it for some distance, heading back towards the crash site, before he came across two members of the Home Guard and surrendered to them and was taken to Banks police station. The charred remains of Fw. Ilse were found amongst the wreckage of the aircraft, with a burnt and partially opened parachute. Fw. Hofmann's used parachute and the radio set were found on a sandbank in the estuary the morning after the crash, by the Lytham St Annes Lifeboat crew, but he was not properly accounted for until his body washed ashore on the 15th of May and was buried as an unknown airman at Lytham St Annes cemetery. In the meantime the remains found at the crash site had been buried at Southport (Duke St.) Cemetery under both men's names, probably to allay any possible public panic that an enemy airman might be on the loose! Both casualties now lie at the German Military Cemetery on Cannock Chase Staffordshire, England.

Ju 88 main wreckageBurnt wreckage from the Ju 88
View of the wreckage of the Ju88 scattered across the marsh the following morning - many of the major components proved to still be in situ as shown in this photo - albeit 10 to 15 feet below the surface now! (Photo: Russell Brown Collection)
Further burnt out wreckage of the Ju88 scattered across banks Marsh.
(Photo: Russell Brown Collection)
The largest recognisable section of the Ju88 after the crash - amazingly this proved to still be there, though only the anodised sections of the spars and structure had survived.
(Photo: Russell Brown Collection)

After capture, both surviving German airmen were  treated for their injuries and  initially taken to No.1 Prisoner of War Camp at Grizedale Hall in the Lake District. Oblt. Klemm was transferred to No.13 Prisoner of War Camp at Shap Wells Hotel near Penrith in May 1942 and due to the extent of his injuries he was later repatriated to Germany as part of a prisoner exchange scheme in 1943. Lt. Coster was transferred to Canada to No.30 Prisoner of War Camp at Bowmanville by Lake Ontario. After the war Gunter Klemm flew as a pilot in the reformed German Air Force and retired having reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel - He never forgot the kindness shown by those who had rescued him and treated him at Lytham, later writing letters of thanks and even inviting the daughter of the doctor who treated him to stay with his family in Germany during a summer holiday. He died in 1972. Heinrich Coster was transferred back to England in May 1946, returning to Germany six months later - He died in 1971.

Hofmann / Ilse Grave
Fw. Hofmann & Fw. Ilse both now lie at the German Military Cemetery, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire

Exactly one month after the destruction of the Ju88 over Banks Marsh, on the night of the 7/8th of May 1941, Flt. Lt. West and Sgt. Adams shot down another Liverpool raider, this time He 111 Werke Nr. 2908 code G1+HP of 6/KG55, which crashed near Wrexham. They were again flying Defiant N3445 and Adams managed to shoot the enemy aircraft down despite only one of his four turret guns being operational. Flt. Lt. West went on to be awarded the DFC in September 1944 and eventually retired from the RAF in 1961 having reached the rank of Squadron Leader - He died in 2012. Sgt. Adams was transferred to Bomber Command when the Defiants were withdrawn from night fighter operations and he joined No. 405 (RCAF) Squadron at Pocklington. On the night of the 29/30th of June 1942 he was the rear gunner on Handley Page Halifax Mk.II. W1113 code "LQ - G" for a bombing raid on Bremen in northern Germany. While flying over the occupied Netherlands the bomber was shot down by a night fighter and all the crew were lost. Sgt. Adams was 21 years old and he is buried in the churchyard at Noordwolde, Weststellingwerf, Netherlands.

bank Marsh todayBank Marsh today
Banks Marsh today is a huge nature reserve covering 4,697 hectares (11,613 acres)With no static landmarks to guide us, eyewitness accounts proved of limited use.

Banks Marsh, where the Ju 88 impacted, is now managed by Natural England as a nature reserve and is part of the Ribble Estuary SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), with areas used for cattle grazing and wildfowling and covers a considerably larger area than it did in 1941, when much of it was open sands extending out into the estuary. The area is used by large numbers of migratory birds as winter feeding grounds and this combined with the nesting of native species in late spring and early summer means that access to the site is only permitted in early spring and late summer. Our efforts in the 1990s concentrated on an area indicated following interviews with numerous witnesses who either recalled the crash or who had seen visible wreckage, which was present up until the early 1950s. However, the marsh has been steadily building up over the last 76 years and with no static landmarks to rely on, such memories proved inaccurate and our early searches we were also plagued by our detection equipment mysteriously refusing to operate properly due to the ground conditions and mineralisation. Later searches used two Foerster Ferex 4.015 vertical gradient magnetometers to grid search the indicated areas, which proved more reliable, but still with no success. Finally in 2015 we decided to re-assess all the evidence and have one more concerted effort to find the crash site. Whilst reviewing photographs taken immediately after the crash, it was clear that the crash site had been at the edge of the marsh and from the areas of shadow in the photos it was deduced that the section of tidal channel visible was orientated roughly east-west, with the elevated mud flats running along the south side and a sand bank on the north side. On examining an original aerial survey photo of the marsh from 1945, we found only one area that appeared consistent with the features. This information was then overlaid onto a modern aerial photo of the area revealing that the line of the 1940s edge of the marsh was in fact some distance from the modern day tidal gutter widely thought to mark the original edge of the marsh. This then formed the baseline for a renewed grid search, again using a Foerster Ferex 4.015 and a more advanced 4.021 magnetometer, which resulted in a major contact being detected only a few metres from the baseline. A probe rod confirmed a solid object at a depth of around 5 feet and following discussion with the Reserve Manager and local SSSI Officer from Natural England, approval was given to investigate this magnetometer contact further.

Engine crankshaft revealed
Test pit being dug
Test pit with Russell Brown
At approx. 5'6" the crankshaft of a large alloy cased engine is revealed Test Pit going in over the first magnetometer contact One of our members - Russell Brown - who has been researching the fate of this aircraft for longer than any of us, is clearly delighted at finally seeing tangible evidence of the Ju 88

A few weeks later a limited test pit uncovered a crankshaft still attached to a major portion of a large alloy cased engine, visible within the confines of the pit. This was quickly identified as a Junkers Jumo 211 engine and having confirmed this, the test pit was infilled and the covering grass reinstated. Now began the complex task of organising a full scale excavation and negotiating with the various authorities with an interest in the wreckage and the sensitive environment of the marsh. An early task in this respect was to organise a full geophysical survey of the crash site and a few months later we were very fortunate to be able to arrange for Peter Masters, a forensic archaeologist and research fellow from Cranfield University, to complete a survey of the site using a Bartington Single Axis Magnetic Field Gradiometer. The results of this survey revealed the full extent of the buried wreckage and allowed us to plan our excavation so as to minimise disturbance of the sensitive surrounding area.

Although we had by now demonstrated to most of the agencies concerned with the site that we could carry out an excavation with due care and keep within their terms, we still had one final important task before we could proceed which was, of course, to obtain a licence from the MOD. This we knew might be problematic, as there was the not insignificant fact that this aircraft had been an enemy raider loaded with bombs that, fortunately for the people of Liverpool, never reached their target! Although several sources mentioned the aircraft's bomb load, what happened to it proved more problematic as different sources proved somewhat contradictory, especially the local newspaper reports of the time. In the end we decided that the official Air Intelligence reports were likely to be the most reliable, with the first - the A.I. 1 (K) report, from the interrogation of prisoners, stating definitely only 2 x SC500 bombs carried and that one was jettisoned during the attack and the other remained in the aircraft but did not explode. The second - the A.I. (G) report, from the inspection of the crash site, states two bombs were found amongst the wreckage - both 500kg, with one partly detonated and one unexploded. This information also tied in with most newspaper reports, though there was confusion due to other bombs falling in the area around the same time and most witnesses assumed that a bomb had detonated when the aircraft crashed. With both bombs accounted for and having been visible on the surface, it was obvious that they must have been dealt with soon after the crash - though unfortunately the records of the local bomb disposal unit at the time did not go into any detail. But this was sufficient to allow a licence to issued, conditional on all work ceasing should anything suspicious be found and recommending that an EOD team should attend the excavation or at least be aware of it and on standby just in case.

Geophys survey Geophys survey check
Geophys survey gets underway Checking results part way through the survey
Geophys results
Overall results of survey, with initial tentative identification of some targets

With all the formalities finally completed, the excavation was scheduled to take place over two days on the 3/4th July 2017 and now the logistics took precedent; plant equipment was booked, the nature reserve workshop and office building was generously made available by the warden for use as our dig HQ, contact was made with EOD, but at the last minute they were unable to attend due to the security situation at the time. Finally a film crew from Emporium Productions, was invited to record the dig as part of a documentary series for the History channel. Numbers out on the marsh crash site had to be limited, but we managed to accommodate a couple of VIP visitors, including Guy Salkeld, an Archaeologist with the Ministry of Defence, Joanne Chamberlain, Documentation officer at the Atkinson Centre Museum in Southport and Col. Hermann Hanke, Air Attaché at the German Embassy in London.

The first day of the dig went largely according to plan, with the first trench opened over the engine we had already identified and enlarged to take in surrounding contacts located by our surveys of the site. Although soil conditions were good, with very little water ingress, we very quickly found that, as expected, the edges of  any excavation  soon became unstable and entering the trenches to recover artefacts was not really an option. The mechanical excavator operator was directed to dig around larger items and briefed how best to lift each item to avoid causing damage. Additionally several of our team took up positions to monitor the spoil as it was removed and spread out to ensure no smaller objects were missed. Soon we had identified and lifted two ECT500 external bomb racks, a complete engine flame damper unit and the starboard Jumo 211B engine. Below and to one side of this we uncovered; parts from the dive brake operating system, a main undercarriage oleo leg, assorted airfame sections, which appeared to be mainly from the engine nacelle area and a VDM propeller hub, complete with two alloy blades still attached. At approx. 10 feet in depth, with no more aircraft remains present, the trench was shut down and infilled, taking care to preserve the stratification of the material removed. Trench two was then opened over the next contact, but initially there did not appear to be any aircraft remains present. However, our detection equipment confirmed a contact, so we continued deeper and at approx 15 feet in depth a tyre was revealed in the wall of the trench and a few smaller airframe pieces were recovered. The tyre was carefully uncovered and was identified as a mainwheel tyre and proved to be intact and still had the remains of the wheel hub present, though the magnesium wheel itself had long since corroded away. With the tyre / wheel hub lifted and apparently no more remains present the trench was closed down and infilled.

Film crew
Setting the scene for the film production company - note yellow "X" marks the spot on the grass!
Dig well underway Propeller with two blades revealed
Day one of the dig well underwayVDM Propeller with two blades still attached and other wreckage revealed below the fist engine
Examining recovered bomb rack Starboard engine recovered to dig HQ
Col. Hanke, Air Attaché at the German Embassy in London, translates information plates on an external 500Kg capacity bomb rackFirst Jumo 211 - the starboard engine recovered from the marsh and back to dig HQ thanks to NW Heritage supplied tracked crawler truck
Main Wheel and tyre recoveredTeam and guests with finds from day 1
 Mainwheel tyre with remains of the wheel hub still present  - this item can be seen floating at the bottom right of the first 1941 wreckage photo above and was recovered from a depth of 18 feet!Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team members and guests with the results of the first day of the dig - note: the starboard engine is behind the safety barrier.

Day two started with opening a trench over a major contact that had been indicated by both the gradiometer and magnetometer instruments, which we assumed must be the second engine. However again there appeared to be little in the way of aircraft remains despite the readings, until at about 10 feet down, when the remains of one of the steel reinforced centre section beams was found, embedded vertically, closely followed by a second beam, with their orientation probably resulting in the very strong magnetometer signals. As this trench was being closed down, we returned to the geophys survey to see if there were any clues we had missed as to where the second engine might lie and noted partial coverage of a contact right on the edge of the survey area. Fortunately Timothy Schofield of Suffolk Archaeology was attending the dig as part of Emporium Productions team and just happened to have his geophys equipment with him! An hour or so later we had an extended gradiometer survey covering the whole of the contact, which was then confirmed by the writer using a Foerster 4.021 magnetometer as including a major ferrous contact, rather than just an area of burnt-out remains, which we had discounted it as being previously.

Pinpointing magnetometer contact in Trench 3Steel beams and other wreckage from Trench 3
Day two - pinpointing the target that we initially believed to be the second engineIn fact, it proved to be two heavy steel centre section beams and a small amount of associated wreckage from the wing mounting area of the fuselage

A fourth trench was immediately opened over this contact and at approx 8 feet in depth, one of our team used a probe rod to ascertain the exact location and depth of the remains in order to guide the machine operator. This showed that substantial wreckage lay only another couple of feet down and the digger driver proceeded accordingly, soon revealing another  pair of steel reinforced centre section  wing spar beams. These were lifted partially out of the hole so that lifting straps could be attached, as they were still joined to the remains of a wing spar, which when pulled clear proved to be over 20 feet long. Once this was removed, the trench was re-checked with the magnetometer and with a substantial reading still present, digging continued. Shortly after this the machine operator indicated he had made contact with a large object, but due to water ingress and the liquid mud at the bottom of the now 12 feet deep trench, we could not identify what this might be. Even once the object was in the machine's bucket it was not immediately obvious what it was, as the size was similar to an engine and its outline was obscured by mud and concretion, but once on the surface it rolled out of the scoop on to the grass and members of the LAIT team immediately knew their worst suspicions were realise and they were looking at an SC500 (SC = Sprengbombe-Cylindrisch & 500 = the overall weight of the bomb in kg) high-explosive general purpose bomb!

Trench No. 4 openedWing spar section being recovered
Trench No. 4 opened up and again pinpointing location and depth of wreckage to guide the digger driver - this location corresponded with the second burnt-out area of wreckage in the 1941 photosFirst find was the other two steel beams that made up the fuselage centre section attached to a 20 foot long section of wing spar - but once removed a substantial magnetometer contact remained.
Bomb found
Not an altogether welcome find - though not totally unexpected either - The SC500 bomb.

This was, of course, the signal to close down the dig, notify the police and clear the site pending the arrival of EOD. The film crew and visitors made their way back to the Nature reserve HQ, which at 900 meters away was deemed a safe distance and a member of the LAIT team remained at site to await EOD and to ensure no cattle came near the still open excavation. On arrival EOD asked to be briefed on the background of the find and were very pleased to hear it was on the surface - not still 12 feet down in a water and mud filled hole - so no drysuits needed! Less than an hour later the all clear was given and the bomb proved to be, as our research had indicated, completely burnt out and was declared F.F.E. (Free from explosives) - but you certainly can't be too cautious with such things! Unfortunately this meant the end of our excavation for the time being, as the plant equipment was booked elsewhere and we only had time to fill in and reinstate the last trench the following morning.

Police arrivalBriefing EOD
Now things started to get complicated! Explaining the situation to the police on arrival.Briefing EOD personnel before they go out on to the marsh
Meanwhile the film company carried on as best they could - Stephen Taylor dicusses our finds with series frontman Graham McPherson (aka Suggs) Once it had been declared safe, one of our team, Eric Watkiss ( left) shows the Senior Reserve Manager, David Mercer our "find" with some added assurance from EOD!
The SC500 intended for Liverpool in 1941 could have taken out an entire street - but is now a harmless relic.

It was not to be until the beginning of September that we were able to return to the site, thanks to the generosity of local firm of John Robson Metals Ltd, who offered to provide the necessary plant equipment to enable us to finish the project. In the meantime we had re-surveyed the site using magnetometers and discovered that Trench two had, in fact, been dug too far over and away from the main magnetometer contact - which was still there! But the signal was much clearer now that interference from the other buried large objects close to it had been removed.  Fortunately we were also still within the permitted period for accessing the marsh and on a pleasantly sunny 2nd September we reassembled at the site and once the tide in the nearby channels began to fall, we reopened trench two. At first there was little to see and we had to proceed carefully as the refilled previous trenches threatened to make the edges of the new trench even more unstable. Then a large object was encountered and lifted, which proved to be the second main undercarriage leg, followed by, at approx. 12 feet in depth, an even larger object being located, just as the bottom of the hole began to fill rapidly with water and liquid mud. The digger driver worked quickly and was able to clear around the object and with guidance from the far side of the excavation, as he could not see due to the depth, the object was rolled into the bucket and lifted, revealing the distinctive profile of a large "V" configuration engine - the missing second engine and a satisfactory conclusion to the dig.

Excavation underwaySecond engine recovered
Excavation of the second engine proved more difficult as the already disturbed ground made the sides of the hole unstable.The "lost" second engine successfully recovered. Left to right are LAIT members: Nick Wotherspoon, Antony Eric Watkiss, John Robson and Russell Brown.
Second engine being power washed
Cleaning an engine from a dig is always a messy business

Members of our team are likely to be fully occupied for some time cleaning and conserving the finds from this dig to get them ready for public display - one local museum has already expressed an interest in putting on a display of representative finds and other local venues are also being considered for temporary displays, so that people local to the crash site will get an opportunity to view the finds. But the likely permanent home for the remains will be our newly refurbished exhibition room, located at the "Hangar 42" museum / visitor's centre at Squires Gate  - in an original wartime hangar that once housed the Defiants of No. 256 Squadron !

Ju 88 parts on temporary displayStarboard engine showing fire damage
Items from the Ju 88 on temporary display at Hangar 42, Blackpool, awaiting custom made standsPartly cleaned Starboard engine showing severe fire damage
Bulkhead light fitting from Ju 88maker's specifcation sheet
Remains of a bulkhead work light from bomb bay of Ju 88Original maker's specification sheet for Ju 88 bulkhead work light
"Klappstutze" securing clamp for MG15 machine  gun from front of Ju 88's cockpit"Klappstutze" diagram from Ju 88 operation manual
ETC500 external bomb rack after initial cleaning - item in background is a flame damper unit from one of the engines.Caricature in pencil, captioned "Leibnitz" found on part of dinghy stowage structure - presumably poking fun at someone in authority on the production line?
Ju88 Maker's Plate
Finally - a chance find during the cleaning of the second engine was this ATG manufacturers plate - Allgemeine Transportanlagen GmbH (ATG) at Leipzig - a company that manufactured the tail sections and fuselages for the Ju88, as well as carrying out final assembly of the aircraft - Note: it bears the inscription "88" for the aircraft type, "A1 " for the aircraft sub-type ( Many Ju 88 A5s were initially being constructed as A1s on the production line but were upgraded to the later A5 specification before completion) and  "8138" - The Werke No. that identifies this individual aircraft.

Acknowledgements: David Mercer, Hannah Birtles, John R. Robson, Paul Johnson,  Andy Saunders, Guy Salkeld, Tim Schofield, Peter Masters

Photos: Nick Wotherspoon, Russell Brown, Alan Clark, Gareth Brown, Mark Sheldon, Eric Antony Watkiss, Graham Berry.

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