Wreckage found on beach is identified as wartime British bomber

One of the entrances to the bunker museum. Photo: egmond4045.nl
One of the entrances to the bunker museum. Photo: egmond4045.nl

Wreckage found in the aftermath of storm Eunice at the beach at Camperduin, near Alkmaar, has been identified as a British Short Stirling MK1 shot down by the Germans in 1942.

A large piece of the fuselage of the bomber plane was found entangled in a fishing net during a clean up of the beach in February.

Martijn Visser, of the association Egmond ’40-’45, said his ‘mouth fell open’ when he saw the wreckage. ‘Small bits will often be washed up on the beach but never a big piece like this. Holding it in your hands after it’s been on the bottom of the see for eighty years is astounding,’ he told NH Nieuws.

Visser was able to identify the plane by comparing it to the fuselage of another Short Sterling at the aircraft museum at Deelen.

‘A total of three Short Stirlings crashed near the Dutch coast, two at Bergen aan Zee and one at Camperduin. We are 80% sure that this is the one that was shot down at Camperduin because wreckage like this is not usually moved by the currents.’

The plane was on its way home from a bombing mission on December 17, 1945 when it was shot down by a German night fighter. All eight crew members were lost.

‘It happened when they were very nearly home. Reaching the Dutch coast usually meant you were near to safety. Pilots called the area between Egmond and Castricum ‘the gap’ because there were few anti-aircraft guns positioned there,’ Visser said.

It was the first flight on the aircraft for five of the crew, one of whom was 22-year-old Sergeant Thomas Padden. Visser contacted Padden’s grandson to tell him about the find. ‘He was flabbergasted but also thankful we had investigated,’ Visser said.

The wreckage will be exhibited at the bunker museum Jansje Schong in Egmond aan Zee. Visser said he expected the relatives of the dead crew members will want to pay their respects there. ‘They are very happy we are telling the story of their grandparents here so this dramatic part of history will not be lost.’

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