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WW2 oxygen tank found on Norfolk beach could be from US B17 plane

PUBLISHED: 11:53 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:46 21 November 2018

A Second World War oxygen tank was found on a beach north of Sea Palling. Picture: HM Coastguard Bacton

A Second World War oxygen tank was found on a beach north of Sea Palling. Picture: HM Coastguard Bacton

Archant

A Second World War oxygen tank that washed up on a Norfolk beach may have come from an American B17 aircraft that crashed in the North Sea.

The B17 Sally B at Old Buckenham Air Show 2017. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMOREThe B17 Sally B at Old Buckenham Air Show 2017. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

The bomb disposal team was called out after an object was found on a beach north of Sea Palling.

Pete Revell, coastguard rescue officer with Bacton Coastguard Rescue team, said that, after carrying out some research, they discovered it was an oxygen tank.

Steve Roberts, curator at the RAF Marham Aviation Heritage Centre, said many aircraft went down off the north Norfolk coast during the war.

He said: “As they would be flying 10,000ft up they would have to carry oxygen. They would also carry compressed air for the plane’s guns.

The bomb disposal team was called out after an object was found on a beach north of Sea Palling. Picture: HM Coastguard BactonThe bomb disposal team was called out after an object was found on a beach north of Sea Palling. Picture: HM Coastguard Bacton

“Looking at the picture it could be a B17 American oxygen tank. Hundreds of Allied and German aircraft went down in the North Sea.

“Sheringham lifeboat was known as the airman’s lifeboat during the war, and they were always on standby to rescue airmen.

“It was the main route back to the Lincolnshire air bases, and where No 5 Group bomber command was based.

“Cromer was the first landfall the crew would see on their way back from bombing on the continent. If a plane was in trouble they would ditch it in the sea.”

He said the recent rough weather caused wrecks on the seabed to be broken up.

“The to-ing and fro-ing of sand on the seabed breaks up the wrecks,” he added. “Stuff gets snapped off and then it’s at the mercy of the tides.”

Mr Revell’s team was paged at 4.25pm on Tuesday, November 20 to a possible ordnance north of Sea Palling.

He added: “On arrival at the beach it was dark and the team had to locate the object.

“After 10 minutes of searching, the object was found, photos were taken and sent to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) who decided they needed to travel from Colchester to investigate further.

“They were taken to the object by the team and it was decided it was not ordnance and could be taken off the beach. The team was stood down at 10pm.”

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