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Wrekin and the ghost spitfire

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History of Wrekin aircraft crashes

7 November 1939. Airspeed Oxford. P1845. Crashed near the summit of the Wrekin in bad visibility. 

25 September 1940. Avro Anson. L7071. Flew into overhead wires at Eaton Constantine near the Wrekin. 

26 October 1941. Bristol Beaufighter flew into the Wrekin in bad weather on training flight. Incident lead to a warning light being erected on the Wrekin.

7 December 1941. Japanese forces attack the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor at 5.15pm GMT.

And Spitfire Mk II P7746 NX-K 131 crashed into Little Hill on the Wrekin during a snowstorm. Named: ‘City of Bradford’ Commissioned with 54 Squadron on 04/08/41, flying out of RAF Castletown, Castletown, Scotland.

Stat Mk II
Span 36 ft 10in
Length 29 ft 11in
Engine Merlin XII
Horsepower 1175 (1050 at 13,000 ft)
Max Speed 357 mph at 17,000 ft
Range 500 miles max
395 in combat
Ceiling 37,200 feet
Rate of climb 2.995 feet/minute
Time to 20,000 feet 7 minutes

Atcham’s St. Eada Cemetery. Metcalfe, Horace Albert. Sergeant, 402962, Royal Australian Air Force.
Died 07/12/1941. Aged 24.
Son of Albert and Edith Mabel Metcalfe, of Wallsend, New South Wales, Australia; husband of Margaret Metcalfe, of Shortland, New South Wales.

The early days of World War II for 54 Squadron, were spent patrolling the Kent coast, until, in May-June 1940, the unit provided air cover for the evacuation of Dunkirk. The Squadron was heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain, until it moved north to RAF Castletown, in November 1941 to regroup, prior to undertaking coastal patrols. In June 1942, the squadron was moved to RAF Wellingore, to prepare for moving to Australia.

7th December’s snow storm was not a good day for flying in Shropshire. There were at least six aircraft crashes, including four deaths, the two in a Dominie, 1st Officer Gasser, ATA in Hurricane Z5663 at Button Oak and Sgt Metcalfe, RAAF in Spitfire P7746 near the Wrekin and Spitfire L1005. Of the six Spitfire accidents mentioned in 57 OTU ORB as crashing that day, two more came down in Shropshire; P9446 crashed at Bratton RLG and R6963 at Montford Bridge airfield.

3 January 1942. Hawker Hurricane L1695.  Aircraft hit wires at Eaton Constantine, though unauthorised low flying.

17 February 1943. Airspeed Oxford P8973 No.ll(P) hit the top of a small hill whilst low flying but managed to continue near Eaton Constantine. 

5 January 1944. Miles Masters AZ726 and DM314.  AFU Formation Flying exercise lead to mid air collision. 

23 April 1944. P47 – Thunderbolt 41-6585. Mid -air collision.

17 December 1945. Airspeed Oxford LX530 21(P) Aircraft crashed into the Wrekin Hill. 

12 September 1952. Avro Anson Mark T21.  Crashed on the Wrekin.

8 January 1994. Mooney M20J G-BSKJ. Aircraft flew into the Eye of the Needle on the summit of the Wrekin Hill.

 

Many people have heard a ghost plane over The Wrekin. Which of the above planes haunts The Wrekin is moot, but reports have also been heard of the ghostly con trails seen high above the clouds. Could these be the memories of Sergeant Metcalfe’s heroic feats over London during The Battle of Britain?

The Wrekin
• The Wrekin was never a volcano, though it has many volcanic rocks.
• It was formed when faults appeared in the Earth’s crusts; part of an upheaval called the Caledonian Orogenesis.
• The Wrekin’s most ancient rocks were formed as far south as the Falkland Islands and have slowly moved north.
• The legend of The Wrekin Giant is that he made The Wrekin with a shovel full of earth.
• Everest, the Alps and the Andes are hundreds of millions of years younger than The Wrekin.
• The Wrekin is one of the most important pre-Christian religious sites in Britain, ranking with Stonehenge.
• All ‘True Salopians’ have climbed through the Needle’s Eye.
• It used to be said that a girl who looked back when going through the Needle’s Eye would never be married.
• The Cuckoo’s Cup or Raven’s Bowl is supposed always to contain water.
• Bonfires have been lit on The Wrekin for special occasions for many centuries.
• An aircraft Warning Beacon was erected during the Second World War.
• The Welsh for The Wrekin is Caer Gwrygon, a name older than the Welsh language.
• The Wrekin is not the highest hill in Shropshire, several are higher, but is supposed to be the highest in Britain for the circumference of its base.
• A Fern Ticket is a mythical permit to adventure in The Wrekin Forest.
• The medieval forest of The Wrekin extended from Haughmond to Lilleshall and the Weald Moors to the River Severn.
• The Hillfort was begun in the Bronze Age, extended by the Celts and abandoned in Roman times.
• A Bronze Age necropolis (city of the dead) is at Willowmoor.
• Roman Viroconium, also Anglo-Saxon Wroxeter and Wrockwardine were named after The Wrekin.
• Medieval Wellington was known as Wellington under The Wrekin.
• Most (not all) of The Wrekin has been in the county of The Wrekin (not Shropshire) since 1998.
• The toast to ‘All Friends Round The Wrekin’ was said to be ‘ancient and traditional’ in 18th. Century.
• The Forest Glen Pavilion was a venue for dinners and dances for nearly a century. It was taken to Blists Hill museum.
• The Wrekin Wakes were held on the first three Sundays in May until the mid 19th. Century.
• At Halfway House Miss Birrell had swingleboats and cooked ham and eggs. It’s still open.
• The Normans renamed The Wrekin as Mount Gilbert or Gilberti Mons, but when the English language was restored it became The Wrekin again.

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