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Ceremony to remember the day Spitfire crashed in Birkenhead Park
A special service will be held next week to remember the day 70 years ago when an RAF Spitfire fighter plane crash landed in Birkenhead Park.
It was on October 14, 1942, when American serviceman Douglas Cooper Goudie took off from RAF Hawarden on a test flight in a Mark IIa Spitfire.
The aircraft got into difficulties over Liverpool but the pilot managed to eject, landing safely in Dingle with no more than a sprained ankle.
His plane, however, continued on over the River Mersey and many watched with terror as it slowly came down over Birkenhead, eventually plunging into a field within the park known as Night Pasture. Mercifully, no-one was injured.
Incredibly, much of the wreckage, including the engine and much of the cockpit instrumentation, remained buried in the field until five years ago when an excavation team from the Warplane Wreck Investigation Group mounted a salvage operation.
The engine is now on display alongside other war plane artefacts at Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton, which is managed by Doug Darroch, whose father Doug Darroch Snr witnessed the crash itself in 1942.
Doug was one of the driving forces behind the excavation of the wreckage.
Steve Hutchinson, vice-chairman of the Birkenhead Branch of The Royal British Legion, said: “This is part of our living history and there will be people out there who were alive at the time it happened or who even may have witnessed it.
“We are expecting all kinds of people to turn out on the day from families to war veterans. It is very important to preserve this piece of history for future generations and keep the memory alive.”
The 70th anniversary of the crash will be marked by a memorial service at the crash site at 2.30pm.
This will be followed by light refreshments at the Birkenhead Branch of the Royal British Legion and in the evening there will be a concert from the Royal Air Force Regiment Band at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton.
This is the first concert by an RAF band in the new Pavilion and all proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion Birkenhead Branch Poppy Appeal 2012.
The pilot, Douglas Cooper Goudie, flew back over the Atlantic after the war but his family are in touch with Fort Perch Rock and may attend the anniversary celebrations.
Tickets cost £12 and are available from the Floral Pavilion on 0151 666 000 or www.floralpavilion.com.
For more information contact Birkenhead Park Visitor Centre on 0151 652 5197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org