A British couple have found the wreckage of a crashed World War II fighter plane, believed to be a Bristol Beaufighter TF.X aircraft, on a beach in northeastern England.
Debi Hartley, a 51-year-old warehouse supervisor and her partner, Graham Holden, a 54-year-old lorry driver, were walking their dog Bonnie on Monday on a beach in the town of Cleethorpes when they spotted the plane.
The couple did not initially realize what the wreckage was, and spent 45 minutes exploring it and taking photographs before identifying it, Hartley told CNN.
After they returned home to begin researching it they discovered the plane dated back to World War II.
Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum confirmed to CNN it believed the plane to be a Bristol Beaufighter TF.X, with the aircraft serial number JM333, from the 254 Squadron RAF.
Ian Thirsk, RAF Museum head of collections, said in a statement to CNN that the aircraft crashed on April 21 1944 soon after take-off from nearby North Coates in Lincolnshire after both engines failed.
“The crew were uninjured and escaped to safety,” Thirsk added.
Speaking to CNN, Hartley said she had been surprised to stumble across the “amazing” wreckage, given that she and her partner had walked on that stretch of beach many times before.
“(I had) never seen anything like it before in my life,” she said.
“We took the the dog on her usual walk and all of a sudden we saw this wreckage,” she added. “It was an amazing find.”
“My partner has lived in Cleethorpes for 30 years and he’s walked that same walk (all that time) and never come across it before.”
She said that before the unique discovery she “wasn’t interested in history at all” but now she would like to find out more about those who flew the aircraft.
However, because of the danger posed by unpredictable tides at Cleethopes beach, people have been warned not to look for the wreckage.
Writing on Facebook Thursday, Cleethorpes Coastguard said: “We know there will be interest by many people but we must ensure the safety of everyone, so we are asking people not to visit the site as it is not safe to do so.
“We have also received reports that it is now covering over with sand again already.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that the craft is a propeller plane.