Engine from jet plane brought back to Norfolk 70 years after fatal crash

The engine of a crashed Gloster Meteor finally lands in West Raynham 70 years later

Jon Booty, co-owner of control tower with the engine. - Credit: Jess Coppins 

The engine of a plane which crashed in the Norfolk countryside 70 years ago and discovered by a farmer just last year has been put on display after being salvaged.

On May 1, 1951, a Gloster Meteor jet crashed on its final approach from RAF Little Rissington to West Raynham, near Fakenham, killing Harold Taylor and Francis Ralph after the aircraft spun into the ground.

Flight Lieutenants Harold Myburgh Taylor and Francis Ralph were taking part in a training exercise and flying between RAF Little Rissington, in Gloucestershire, and West Raynham, at the time of the crash.

The engine of a crashed Gloster Meteor finally lands in West Raynham 70 years later

The engine of a crashed Gloster Meteor finally lands in West Raynham 70 years later - Credit: Jess Coppins

A report published suggests the fuel was not selected from the correct tank, causing one or both engines to fail due to fuel starvation, with the aircraft flying at close to stalling speed.

The Gloster Meteor, which was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' only jet aircraft to achieve combat operations during the Second World War, was destroyed in the crash.


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There the engine laid buried until the summer of 2020, when Norfolk farmer, Gary Dawes, discovered it near Great Massingham.

The engine of a crashed Gloster Meteor finally lands in West Raynham 70 years later

The engine of a crashed Gloster Meteor finally lands in West Raynham 70 years later - Credit: Jess Coppins 

He made the discovery after hearing stories about it remaining in the area and going to investigate.

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Having found the engine, it took some time with Covid and paperwork for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to remove it.

Mr Dawes then called RAF Sculthorpe heritage centre's curator, Ian Brown, where the engine was being kept, who agreed it should return to West Raynham.

“It’s the right place for the engine to be and a fitting tribute to the lost crew," Mr Brown said.

Ian Brown, curator at RAF Sculthorpe heritage centre.

Ian Brown, curator at RAF Sculthorpe heritage centre. - Credit: Jess Coppins 

Mr Brown spoke to Jon Booty, co-owner of the control tower in West Raynham. The engine was brought to the tower at the former airfield, which is now home to a solar farm and business park.

Mr Booty said he felt a duty to give the engine a home.

“We have a growing private collection here at our home and upon hearing the predicament the engine was in, and after visiting the graves of the crew, we felt a sense of duty to provide a home for it,” he said.

The engine of a Gloster Meteor

The engine of a Gloster Meteor was discovered by farmer Gary Dawes near Massingham - Credit: RSHC

“We will be displaying the engine, in a means respectful to the lost crew, along with the rest of our historic collection here at the tower.”

The control tower will be opened to the public from September 11 for heritage open days.

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