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. All the crew were killed. the remains of the plane is still visible but slowly being covered by the huge blocks that keep the breakwater intact. 

According to 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)

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.

This area is made up of huge boulders and concrete blocks piled one on top of the other until they reach the surface. The division between these blocks and the sandy bottom is quite distinct, and the wreckage, situated just off the sand is quite easy to spot even if you are not right on the marks, reports. 

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