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WW2 Aircraft Artifact Found in the Sefton Coast Sand Dunes

By Jim Turner

Our sand dunes have offered protection during the wars and many in the UK have a fascinating military history – from being the site of hidden explosive factories to being the site of decoy towns used to deter bombers from targeting nearby settlements.

As we celebrate 75 years since the end of the Second World War in 2020, one of the Dynamic Dunescapes project sites offered up a previously unearthed piece of wartime history, buried in the dunes for over three quarters of a century.

The piece found in Sefton. Image: Nick Wotherspoon
The piece found in Sefton. Image: Nick Wotherspoon

This week on the Sefton Coast, our colleagues have found part of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning – an American fighter aircraft used in WW2. Records show that this particular aircraft crashed in the dunes during a training flight on March 18th 1944, piloted by F/O W. H. Vallee who sadly lost his life. The plane was due to land but was signaled at the last minute to abort, as two other aircraft were also coming in, when he lost control of the aircraft and crashed. The part has been identified as part of the aircraft’s propeller spinner.

Identifying a piece of the plane; a propeller piece from a P38 Lightning. Image: Anthony Watkiss
Identifying a piece of the plane; a propeller piece from a P38 Lightning

The site where it has been found is protected under 1981 SSSI Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Protection of Military Remains Act (1986).

The Aircraft Accident Report from 1944
The incident report detailing the crash of this aircraft