Ghostly remains of WW2 fighter plane granted protected status

The Maid of Harlech, a crashed military aircraft off the Welsh coast, has become the first in the UK to be granted protection for its historic and archaeological interest.

The remains of a crashed fighter plane can only occasionally be seen beneath the sand off the Welsh coast, but the significance of the wreck has earned it a special status.

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, nicknamed the Maid of Harlech, crashed in September 1942 when its pilot, Second Lt Robert Elliott, 24, of North Carolina, got into difficulties during a training exercise. Mr Elliott walked away from the accident, but was reported missing in action a few months later.

The wreckage has remained in its position off the coast of Harlech well beyond the second world war, and this month the site has been granted protected status.

The resting place is the first military aircraft crash site in the UK to be granted protection for its historic and archaeological interest by Cadw, the Welsh government’s historic environment service.

‘Sites such as this represent events which must not be forgotten’

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‘I am honoured and delighted that Cadw has given official recognition of my uncle’s plane as a scheduled monument,’ said Mr Elliot’s nephew, of the same name.

‘My uncle was among those brave and expert fighter pilots who served with distinction during the second world war. My visit to the site in 2016 was very moving and emotional.’

The Maid of Harlech lies around two metres below the seabed and when the conditions are just right it becomes visible in the sand.

The plane has been uncovered three times since it crashed — in the 1970s, in 2007 and most recently in 2014.

‘This site is of international significance and I’m delighted that this designation underlines its special qualities as well as protecting it for the benefit of future generations,’ said Lord Elis Thomas, Welsh Government deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism.

‘As we have seen following Remembrance events over the weekend, sites such as this represent events which must not be forgotten, Wales will always remember and respect all those who contributed to securing the peace we are so fortunate to enjoy today.’