The Lost Spitfire
On the October 14th of 1942 Sgt Goudie of the Royal Canadian Air Force took off from his airbase in
Hawarden, North Wales on a routine test flight. After a short time into the flight Sgt Goudie began
experiencing engine troubles to which he was unable to control. In an attempt to save civilian lives Sgt
Goudie aimed his plane at the river Mersey and bailed out. The plane fell short of the Mersey and crashed
into Birkenhead Park, the pilot also fell lucky and landed on Liverpool maternity hospital roof.
The Spitfire Mk 2A crashed into the lower end of the park, close to Park Road East and the Cole Street
entrance. The exact location is where the old air cadets building stands nears the big patch of Grass by
In 2007 excavation of the spitfire began under direction of Warplane Wreck Investigation Group. The
excavation was the culmination of two years’ planning by the Warplane Wreck Investigation Group, which
has a museum at Fort Perch Rock, with items from many aircraft and 20-plus engines as part of the Blitz
over Merseyside exhibition.
About a quarter of the aircraft, including its complete Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, all the cockpit
instrumentation, part of the pilot’s seat and the remains of the pilot’s sunglasses have been recovered
from the 18ft-deep hole in the Park.
WWIG member John Molyneux said:
“The engine is in beautiful condition, with everything else compacted on top of the engine. The excavation went
well and there was quite a congregation.”
Among those watching the excavation was 78 year old Arthur Aspey, one of the few remaining eye-
witnesses to the crash, which the pilot survived.
Mr Aspey was a 13-year-old schoolboy playing in the park when he heard the plane’s engine and looked
up to see it plunge nose down into the ground.
“ I saw it coming down and there was a bang. I was later told that at the girls’ school nearby, one of the
teachers thought it was a bomb and ordered all the children under their desks.”
Bobby Boyd, 76, an eyewitness who was aged 11 at the time, said: "He and many others who saw the
aircraft crash ran to the park to see a smouldering hole in the ground."
Organiser Doug Darroch's father, to whom the excavation is in memory of, also saw the crash and had
related the story that: "Everyone thought the aircraft was doing acrobatics and had dived behind the trees."
All of the recovered items are now displayed at Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton and Birkenhead Park.
The Mystery Propeller
A long lost aeroplane propeller found in an attic is being linked the Spitfire which crashed into Birkenhead
Park. The blade was washed up on New Brighton beach during World War II and spent years hanging in a
scout hut on the wall as memorabilia before going into storage. Experts now believe it could belong to a
Spitfire which crashed into Birkenhead Park on October 14, 1942, after losing a propeller over the River
Assistant scout leader George Merrill now hopes he has found he has found the missing propeller in his
attic. Mr Merrill, 63, of New Brighton, said:
“At a scout reunion 25 years ago, I remember a friend saying one of the scouts had found it washed up on the
shore during the war and brought it in. It hung in the scout hut behind Emmanuel church, in Seabank Road, for
many years with a little sign on it. It was eventually taken down for renovations to the hut, and I put it into
storage, and completely forgot about it. When the spitfire was dug up and the propeller identified as the cause
of the crash, I thought ‘that might be in my attic’.”
Sadly the pilot Sgt Goudie died in 1975 and it is impossible to know if the propeller had come off before he
bailed out. The propeller has been handed over to the Spitfire’s current home, the Wartime Wreck
Investigation Group Museum in Fort Perch Rock.
Curator Doug Darroch, whose late father witnessed the original crash, said:
“The timescale certainly suggests it is the right blade. Finding these things was not an everyday occurrence.
We will happily take a look at it and check. Even if it is not the right one, it is still an interesting part of our
heritage and would be great for the museum".
|Dug Darroch outside Fort Perch Rock
|George Merril with the propeller blade