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Latitude 50° 20.00 N
Longitude 004° 09.24 W
Depth 15m
Accuracy 20m
Location Description Plymouth Breakwater
Craft type Lancaster Bomber Aircraft
Date of loss 13 February 1943
Manner of loss Crashed
Outcome Abandoned
Nationality United Kingdom
Departure port Fiskerton
Destination port Lorient
Crew 7
Built A.V.Roe (Chadderton)
Master Flight Sargeant Gifford Miller
Owners Royal Air Force

Lancaster Bomber (ED450)

The Lancaster Mk III heavy bomber ED450 (EA-G) crashed on the breakwater in Plymouth Sound on 13th February 1943. ED 450 was from 49 Squadron based at Fiskerton in Lincolnshire and had just returned from a raid on the U-boat pens at Lorient in France.

ED450 was one of 620 Lancasters ordered from A.V.Roe (Chadderton) in 1941 and was delivered to 49 Squadron on 8th January 1943. On 13th February the aircraft left Fiskerton on a clear moonlit night as one of 466 heavy bombers sent to destroy the U-boat base at Lorient. Seven aircraft were lost in the raid including two Lancasters. Flight Sargeant Gifford Miller piloted the severely damaged ED450 back from the raid and was aiming for an emergency landing at RAF Harrowbeer to the north of Plymouth. Unfortunately the aircraft collided with the steel cable of a barrage balloon used to defend Plymouth against low flying aircraft. The Lancaster came down on the western end of the breakwater, disintegrating as it fell into the sea. The crews final moments have never been established for sadly they all perished in the crash and their bodies were never recovered (1,2,3,4,5).

The last crew of ED450 are:

F/Sgt G.B.C. Miller Pilot (Missing)
F/O R. Allin NAV (Missing)
Sgt K. Hands W/AG(Missing)
Sgt W. Noble B/A (Missing)
Sgt S. Young F/E (Missing)
Sgt W. Halsall A/G (Missing)
Sgt F.H. Allen A/G (Missing)

Diving the Lancaster Bomber

The well scattered remains of the Lancaster bomber were found by Exeter BSAC on 13th April 1975, on the south side of the Breakwater at the western end in a depth of 15m. On 22nd November 1975 the Devon Aircraft Research & Recovery Team (DARTT) assisted by local divers recovered one of the Alison Merlin Engines and one of the front oleo legs with an intact and inflated tyre.

The engines and pieces of airframe were visible in the sand amongst the boulders that make up the breakwater but are now mostly gone, some buried by the recent addition of more blocks used to reinforce the breakwater.

All aircraft in UK waters that have crashed during military service are protected by the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

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Images

Lancaster

A Lancaster bomber

Lancaster Plymouth

The location of the wreck of Lancaster bomber ED450

References

(1) Mitchell P., 1986, The Wreckers Guide to South West Devon, Sound Diving Publications
(2) McDonald K., 1997, Fort Bovisand, Wreckwalker Books, ISBN 0 9528637 1 5, P85
(3) Lost Bombers, Accessed Dec 11
(4) Bomber History - Miller, Accessed Dec 11
(5) Submerged - Lancaster Bomber, Accessed Dec 11