Visitors from Pentagon arrive on Great Bardfield farm to discover fate of crashed Second World War pilot

PUBLISHED: 08:47 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:59 11 October 2018

The team from the United States Government in Great Bardfield. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The team from the United States Government in Great Bardfield. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

Special visitors from the Pentagon arrived in Great Bardfield, armed with metal detectors, to discover more about the fate of an American Second World War pilot who crashed in 1944.

A photo of the extensive 1979 dig in Great Bardfield. Picture: ESSEX AVIATION GROUPA photo of the extensive 1979 dig in Great Bardfield. Picture: ESSEX AVIATION GROUP

On September 13 and 14, a team from the US government’s Department of Defense, investigated the crash site in Bluegate Hall where 2nd Lieutenant Lester L. Lowry died on January 26, 1944.

The landowner said the crash created a hole about “20 feet deep” and a report from the Essex Aviation Group (EAG), after a dig in 1979, said the “aircraft remains had burnt fiercely...reportedly it was two days before the crash could be approached by the American recovery team to retrieve the body”.

The team, which included a forensic scientist and a historian, were from the Defense POW/MIA Accountancy Agency whose mission is to provide the fullest possible account for missing American personnel from past conflicts.

According to Nicholas Reed, owner of Bluegate Hall, in Braintree Road, the experts’ task was to investigate the site and find remnants of the plane, which they “found very easily”. He said the team would have been be very excited if they “found a tooth”. Since then, the Americans have filed a report and may return for a recovery operation.

The 1979 dig unearthed remnants of two machine guns. Picture: ESSEX AVIATION GROUPThe 1979 dig unearthed remnants of two machine guns. Picture: ESSEX AVIATION GROUP

Remains of two machine guns were discovered up to eight feet below the ground during the 1979 EAG dig.

The dig write-up says there were “substantiated, eye-witness accounts that the aircraft had dived vertically at speed into the field. The hard winter ground did nothing to soften the impact of the Thunderbolt as proved by the well smashed remains recovered”.

The author added: “After sterling efforts on the part of our digger driver, parts of the fuselage with four very battered propeller blades and vast quantities of ash and charred remains were retrieved from 18 to 20 feet deep.”

It is understood that the plane was based at Bodney in Norfolk.

Members of Essex Aviation Group watch as plane remnants are found in 1979. Picture: ESSEX AVIATION GROUPMembers of Essex Aviation Group watch as plane remnants are found in 1979. Picture: ESSEX AVIATION GROUP

The “prize bits and pieces” from the dig were transported to Imperial War Museum Duxford with many pieces going to museums and collections in the 1990s. Parts of the fuselage remain with EAG.

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