Two dog walkers discovered the wreckage of a rare WWII RAF fighter plane that laid buried in the sands of a beach for 76 years.
Debi Hartley, 51, was on a casual walk with her partner Graham Holden, 54, and their dog Bonnie when they made the “one in a million” discovery on Bank Holiday Monday.
The carcass of the fighter craft revealed itself on an undisclosed patch on Cleethorpes beach, Lincolnshire with its wings protruding through the shifting sands.
The couple then spent around an hour scanning the wreckage as they discovered more remnants of the aircraft.
The RAF confirmed that the wreckage is a Bristol Beaufighter, believed to be aircraft serial number JM333 of 254 Squadron, and is said to have flown during the night to torpedo enemy ships in the North Sea as part of the air force’s Coastal Command Strike Wing.
But the newly discovered Beaufighter’s service was cut short in 1944 when its engines blew shortly after take-off from the RAF North Coates in Lincolnshire - and made an emergency landed on Cleethorpes Beach, where it remained for over seven decades.
Mother-of three Hartley said: “We were on a walk on Cleethorpes beach with our dog when we saw these unusual objects. My partner has walked up and down these beaches for over 20 years and never found anything like this. It was so unexpected and incredible.
“We were trying to work out what it was and just stood around it for 45 minutes. I have never seen something so amazing before in my life.
“It was a one in a million find. It feels like you’ve stumbled upon a bit of history - it was just amazing.".
Ian Thirsk, head of collections at the Royal Air Force Museum in London, said both the pilot - Sargeant A.W. Burborough - and his navigator survived the crash.
Mr Thirsk said: “On April 21, 1944 JM333 ditched near Haille Sands when both engines failed shortly after take-off from North Coates. The crew were uninjured and escaped to safety.”
An incident log states: “The aircraft suffered a starboard engine failure at 500ft while on a familiarisation flight.
“This forced the pilot to make a forced wheels-up landing on the beach just outside the perimeter of the airfield.
“No injuries were reported by either Sgt A.W. Burborough or his navigator. The aircraft was deemed a total write-off and the wreck is still visible today.”
The Bristol Beaufighter was first introduced into the war on 27 July 1940 and nearly 6,000 were built between 1940 and 1946