Riddle of crashed bomber found in sea remains unsolved

The crew of a Stirling bomber with their aircraft Picture: Submitted

The crew of a Stirling bomber with their aircraft Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

The remains of a Second World War bomber found at the bottom of the North Sea have not been identified.

Surveyors plotting the route of an undersea power cable connecting Britain to Norway found an aircraft wheel off the Norwegian coastline two years ago.

It is believed to have been from a Short Stirling, a four-engined heavy bomber used for a variety of roles from the early years of the war until the end of the conflict in 1945.

Some 19 were lost whilst taking part in secret missions to deliver supplies to Norwegian resistance fighters over the winter of 1944 - 45, six of which remain unaccounted for to this day.

The families of those lost with them are still awaiting closure, with the fates of their loved ones unknown. Each would have had a crew of seven on board.

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A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in London said the aircraft found two years ago had not been identified.

"The crash site is protected by the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 (PoMRA) and a licence is required from us before any excavation of the site can be undertaken," he said.

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"It is our policy to leave such sites undisturbed unless an application, as above, is received or there are other reasons for requiring the site to be excavated, and so this position is unlikely to change in the immediate future.

"The Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre would only investigate the find if an application for the issue of a PoMRA licence was received.

"To date, no application has been made and so the matter has not been taken any further. I have checked and we do not hold any further information on location or aircraft identity." Stirlings flew secret supply missions to Norway from bases including Shepherd's Grove, near Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk.

The RAF's largest heavy bomber, which had a maximum speed of 250mph and a maximum altitude of 15,000ft, was vulnerable to attacks from faster German night fighters, which were guided to their prey in the later years of the war by radar.

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