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Remains of Second World War dummy aircraft to go on show in village

PUBLISHED: 17:45 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:51 09 April 2019

Ian Curtis carries the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, into the village hall for the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ian Curtis carries the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, into the village hall for the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

The remains of a remote-controlled aircraft used for target practice in the Second World War is just one of the many items of interest that reflect the quirky history of a north Norfolk village.

Cockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisCockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

Ian Curtis, lifelong resident of Stiffkey, is planning to put the collection he has assembled about the village near Wells on display.

Mr Curtis, 63, found the 12ft long metal shell of the Radio Controlled Aerial Target - RCAT - in the nearby coastal marshes in January when he was out walking with his girlfriend, on their way to see the seals at the beach.

He said he knew exactly what it was.

Mr Curtis said: “I can remember as a lad seeing the little aeroplanes laying on the marshes. There must have been about 60 of them.

Cockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisCockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

“When we saw this one it up upsidedown and full of mud. We came back a wheelbarrow and carried it off.”

Mr Curtis said the RCATs were launched by a device called a whirligig, which spun them around at the end of a chord until they reached 70mph, and a certain height, before letting them go.

They were remote controlled so that machine gunners training with weapons used on B-29 bombers could shoot them down from the nearby Stiffkey Light Anti-Aircrfaft Artillery Range.

The RCAT will be part of the Stiffkey Memories display at the village hall on Easter Monday - April 22 - with the aim of raising some of the £80,000 needed for a major update of the hall.

Cockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisCockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

Mr Curtis said other subjects covered included the tradition of collecting cockles on the marsh - known as the famous ‘Stewkey blues - and Stiffkey’s legendary, but ill-fated rector, Harold Davidson.

Davidson led a double life during his Stiffkey rectorship, making regular trips to London to tend to the souls of Soho’s denizens, styling himself the ‘Prostitutes’ Padre’. He was eventually defrocked and died in 1937 after being mauled by a lion in a seaside spectacular, trying to raise enough money to clear his name.

Mr Curtis said of Stiffkey: “For its size it’s got a lot more history than any other village that I know of.”

The Memories event will run from 10am to 4pm, and there will be cakes, tea and coffee for sale.

Ian Curtis carries the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, into the village hall for the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIan Curtis carries the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, into the village hall for the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisCockle gatherers at Stiffkey in 1901. Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

The Stiffkey village hall which will house the history exhibition to raise funds for improvements to the hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Stiffkey village hall which will house the history exhibition to raise funds for improvements to the hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Bofer guns at Stiffkey. Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisBofer guns at Stiffkey. Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

A 1969 Queen's Theatre programme of a play about the scandal of the Rector of Stiffkey in 1932. Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisA 1969 Queen's Theatre programme of a play about the scandal of the Rector of Stiffkey in 1932. Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

The light artillery training camp during the Second World War. Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisThe light artillery training camp during the Second World War. Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

The guns from a B29 bomber aircraft on Stiffkey marshes used to train B29 gunners by shooting down radio controlled aerial targets (RCAT). Picture: Courtesy Ian CurtisThe guns from a B29 bomber aircraft on Stiffkey marshes used to train B29 gunners by shooting down radio controlled aerial targets (RCAT). Picture: Courtesy Ian Curtis

Ian Curtis with the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part of the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIan Curtis with the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part of the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The corroded body of the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part if the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe corroded body of the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part if the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part if the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part if the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ian Curtis with the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part of the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIan Curtis with the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part of the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ian Curtis with the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part of the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYIan Curtis with the remains of a radio controlled aerial target (RCAT), used as targets to train B29 bomber gunners, part of the Stiffkey history exhibition helping to raise funds for improvements to the village hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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