A unique find of a Short Stirling BF396
Wreckage of a British World War II bomber that washed up on the beach at Camperduin in February has been identified. It turns out to be the remains of a Short Stirling MK1. The wreckage washed ashore after storm Eunice and were entangled in a fishing net. They were found during cleanup work on the beach. When Martijn Visser of the Egmond Foundation '40-'45 saw the find, he could hardly believe his eyes.
"Often small pieces wash up, but such a large part as now is really unique, If you can hold that in your hands after it's been on the seabed for eighty years, that's amazing." Visser investigated from which aircraft the wreckage came. During his research, he arrived at the former Deelen airfield, where the only remaining hull of a Short Stirling can be seen in the museum. The researchers found that the remains are of the same type of combat aircraft.
"A total of three Stirlings crashed off our coast, two near Bergen aan Zee and one near Camperduin. We are 80 percent sure that the wreckage came from the latter," says Visser. "Usually these kinds of parts wash up right off the coast."
It would be the Short Stirling BF396 that was shot down by a German night fighter on December 17, 1942. All eight crew members were killed. "That while they were almost home. When you reached the Dutch coast, you were already pretty safe," says Visser. "They called the area between Castricum and Egmond aan Zee the Gap because there was little anti-aircraft artillery there."
"There were five crew members who flew this aircraft for the first time. They said goodbye and never came back, which is of course dramatic," says Visser.
One of them was 22-year-old Sergeant Thomas Padden. Visser contacted a grandson to tell about the find. "He was totally flabbergasted and also grateful that we got all this sorted out."
The debris will be housed in the bunker museum Jansje Schong in Egmond aan Zee from April. Visser thinks that the relatives of the crew members will also come by. "They really appreciate that we want to tell their grandfather's story in the museum. This dramatic history will not be lost in this way."