Memorial bid for pilot who died in Great Fen crash

Pilot Harold Penketh.
Picture: Aviva Group Archive

Pilot Harold Penketh. Picture: Aviva Group Archive - Credit: Archant

Plans to erect a memorial to an RAF pilot who died in a crash in Holme in 1940 have been submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council.

Spitfire dig, at Holme Fen, lifting the propellor,

Spitfire dig, at Holme Fen, lifting the propellor, - Credit: Archant

The Wildlife Trust has applied for permission to fix a commemorative plaque to a stone near the Holme Fen Nature Reserve, close to where Harold Edwin Penketh crashed his spitfire on November 22, 1940.

The Spitfire was raised from Great Fen by archaeologists in October last year following a week-long dig that turned up a wealth of finds, including the plane’s engine and a number of personal effects.

Spitfire X4593, of 266 Rhodesian Squadron Royal Air Force, was based at RAF Wittering and was on a routine training flight with two other Spitfires.

Pilot Officer Harold Edwin Penketh was seen to break formation, and entered a dive from which he failed to recover.


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Witnesses at the time said that his aircraft partially recovered at about 2,000ft but then re-entered a dive and struck the ground vertically.

Mr Penketh did not attempt to use his parachute and was killed in the crash, his body was recovered and returned to his home town of Brighton.

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Investigations concluded that either a failure of the oxygen system or a physical failure had occurred.

Under the Wildlife Trust’s plan, the plaque will be affixed to a Clipsham stone, with an information board nearby, detailing the history of both the incident and Mr Penketh.

To view the plans, and to have a say, log on to www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk.

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