Mystery Of WWII Plane Engine Solved

The aircraft engine, photographed by Robin Mawer

The aircraft engine, photographed by Robin Mawer

A former St Martin’s publican thinks he might be able to solve the mystery of the WWII plane engine found by fisherman Barry Bennett last month.

The engine, thought to be from a German Arado or Heinkel aircraft was landed at Porthmellon after snagging Barry’s fishing gear north of Tresco.

Geoff Metcalf, who ran the Seven Stones Inn from 1999 to 2005, says his late father Graeme had always recalled a story of how his platoon shot down a German bomber over the islands.

Geoff says his father was a 2nd Lieutenant in charge of a platoon of Independent Companies, the forerunners of the Commandos, stationed at the lighthouse on St Agnes.

He says a lone Heinkel aircraft flew over the islands during 1940 and dropped its bombs on St Mary’s. It was thought the plane had missed its target of Plymouth and was dumping its payload before returning to home base.

Geoff says the plane headed out from St Mary’s over St Agnes, where his father’s platoon had set up a Bren gun. They missed the plane during the first fly past, but the plane came around again to take some shots, and they got it the second time.

His father said the plane crashed somewhere off Bryher or Tresco.

His father recalls that all men in the Home Guard on St Agnes had just been issued with a gun and ammunition and every one claimed they’d made the killer shot.

Geoff has tried to find records of the plane since his father died ten years ago, but to no avail, so was pleased to hear of the discovery.

2 Responses to Mystery Of WWII Plane Engine Solved

  1. Chris Peat April 26, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Oh dear, I think it was me that started the rumour that it was German. Closer examination of the gearing shows that it is a Bristol Pegasus, unfortunately. I sent close up pictures to the RAF and Brooklands museums to confirm this. These engines were fitted to Sunderlands, early Wellingtons and the Handley Page Hampden. All of those types have been lost around here, but the propeller diameter of 12′ means it can only have come from a Hampden. I am following up the unique local loss of the Hampden (all he crew were saved) with the RCAF squadron association it belonged to. Anyone know anything about the rescue?

  2. Chris Peat April 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

    That’s great news. I am still researching the engine, which looks like a BMW 132K as fitted to (among others) the Heinkel 115. Did Geoff’s father say how many engines the aircraft had or whether it was a floatplane,or whether it had one or two tail-fins?