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Recovery of Mosquito MM150

June - July 2003 By

The Aircrew Remembrance Society
See here for the loss article: Morgan RAF 1945

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I was travelling home along the A34 when I remembered an old case that I had investigated together with Mike Croft back in 1992. Before reaching the M4 junction at Chieveley I exited the A34 and headed towards Snelsmore Farm, the location stated in the ORB as being the crash location for Mosquito MM150. On arrival at the farm stables I was greeted by the landowner. After a few minutes she informed me that the small wood where she believed an aircraft crashed is now owned by Mr. Palmer, of Bussock Wood Estate, directions were given to his country house. With much appreciaton I bid my farewell.

On arrival at Bussock Wood Estate, I spoke with Mr Palmer's caretaker. He informed me that Mr Palmer was away and would not be returning until Thursday, so I decided to phone him on his return. The caretaker also told me that he had found small aircraft fragments in the corner of the wood, and proceeded to point in the general direction. During our conversation we were joined by Chris, who is the Estate gamekeeper. At first Chris was a little wary of my visit and intentions, but it was not long before Chris told me of yet another strange coincidence and a chance find nearby a parachute! It appears that a couple of years ago, a bottle collector from Newbury visited the bottle dump at the rear of Chris's house. After a few hours digging, the bottle hunter discovered a very large section of parachute silk buried in the dump! Chris verified this and said that it had been re-buried. I asked if it was possible for me to come down and search for it Saturday, permission was given and a time arranged.

June 2003

My friend David King and I arrived at Bussock Wood Estate around lunchtime, shortly after, we were joined by Chris, the estate gamekeeper. Sadly Chris could not remember the exact position of where he thought the parachute was buried, but kindly pointed out the rough area where the bottle hunter was searching. With the kind help of Chris's two young daughters we started digging through all the broken bottles, unfortunately we did not find the complete chute, but we did however discover a couple of silk fragments and was amazed to discover it was camoflaged! Our questions now were "how did it get there and when", what was its origin ? There is a possibility that it may have come from a supply container? At the present time we do not believe that these scraps of parachute are related to the crashed Mosquito MM150. By 1.00 p.m. we had failed to find the rest of the parachute, perhaps the bottle hunter took it away? But we are left with three fragmented pieces which proves that at one time it did exist! Our attention was now turned towards finding the exact crash place of MM150. Chris offers to show us the place he believes the aircraft crashed, we jump into our van and followed his quad bike down a narrow lane until we ended up at a corner of a small wood.

We arrived at the corner of the small wooded copse of oak and cherry trees, we followed the track which leads through the woods. Approximately 150 - 200 feet along this track I discovered a piece of aircraft perspex just lying on the surface! This was a good indication that the crash site was not too far away, we immediately scanned the area with our metal detectors and we discovered some small twisted aluminum fragments scattered around. One piece was stamped with numbers L98 4124. In our research work of identifying the aircraft type, these numbers help enormously. Clearly visible was the number 98, this is the part numbering code for the Mosquito aircraft so we know that one definitely crashed here. It was now time to apply to the MOD for a licence to excavate the site.


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Above left to right: The initial hand part of the dig, Part from the Mosquito bomb site, Oxygen equipment

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Various buckles, Pilot seat harness release, Navigator's computer


July 2003

Licence No.1437 arrived from the MOD, we could now start digging at the site. In the crash site area one can see the scarred bark of an oak tree, presumably caused from the eruption of the fuel tanks when the aircraft hit the ground. Near to this tree we had very persistent readings on our metal detector so it was decided to dig a trial hole in this area to determine if any wreckage lies buried deeper. Fragments discovered in our first trial trench included much wood and plywood, the wood has survived the test of time as many pieces still had its original gray camoflage paint remaining. Our second trial hole was deeper than the first, at least three feet. Again we found larger pieces of wood which was un-burnt, electrical wiring (yellow), remains of a fuze box, flare signal cartridge, hydraulic connection and the wreckage appears to go deeper! Near the bottom of our trial hole we discovered a piece of wood, in an almost vertical position, we tried to remove this obstacle, but we could not move it.We decided to dig out an area approximately five feet long, three feet wide and five feet deep. Large pieces of wreckage was discovered at this depth, this included; 1 portable Oxygen bottle (10 minutes supply), navigators computer, perspex etc. Embedded deeper in the ground we discovered the main undercarriage assembly, large wooden main spar and fuel tank section. None of this wreckage could not be removed as most parts seemed to be attached in some way, we believe that one of the Merlin engines lies buried deeper. Approximately sixteen feet from our first major reading we discovered another very good reading, from the distance apart we believe this is the second Merlin engine. Of course we are all indebted to Mr Palmer for allowing our small team of amateur aviation historians to visit and excavate this particular historic Mosquito crash site. As there are not too many Mosquito crash sites of this nature we would like to thank Mr. Palmer and his trusted employeeís for all their help in our dedicated work. Steady progress was made in trench number 2. Again at a depth of 3 - 4 feet we discovered parts from the undercarriage retraction gear. I concentrated digging in the approximate area where the cockpit area should have hit the ground, between trench number 1 and 2. Started to discover fragments at a depth of around 2 feet, relics found included a small brass fire extinguisher, label from the bombsight, bottom end of the oxygen breathing pipe complete with rusted clip. In the same area Neal found a seat harness buckle in very good condition. Leather fragments were also found, one piece came from the arm rest of the pilots seat, another piece, complete with its filling of horse hair from the pilots head armour behind his head.

Started a new trial dig in front of where we first dug on trench number 1. Very good readings on the metal detector!, but it was going to be a struggle digging the hole The weather today was very humid and the sweating factor was high, also attack by the local midges was anticipated! Dug down about 5 feet and discovered main wooden part of main spar, to the right of this was the other end of the fuel tank, which we discovered previously. Amazingly, squashed in the middle was the main wheel tyre in very good condition, even the tread had survived remarkably well. Just sticking out of the water was the aluminium mud guard. Again, none of these pieces could be moved, so it has now come for the time to get a J.C.B. excavator on the site.

EXCAVATION OF MOSQUITO MM150

The day had arrived for the excavation, those attending the dig were, Melvin Brownless, David King, Neal Lumley with his son Daniel, Tim Hake, Clive Ellis, and our old friend Dave Neighbour and son. Photographs below show various stages of the recovery operation.


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After many hours of research the Mosquito excavation begins. The first find - the research pays off!

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More wreckage is discovered. Clive with some small, but very important pieces.

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Mud, aviation fuel and oil. The Mosquito supercharger

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Pistons and sleeves. Remains of one of the engines

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View of the overall crash site

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More remains of another engine. Another supercharger

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Another view of one of the superchargers. A prop and one of the boss's

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Another view of the prop and boss recovery

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One of the main Wheels. View of this squadron's mosquito's