A CHANCE discovery on a beach has unravelled the story of a wartime crash.
Richard Bainbridge, from Hall Lane, Stickney, uncovered a brass plaque while he was metal-detecting on Skegness beach last winter.
He said: "My first thought was that it was a 12-inch ruler – but then I noticed the word Pegasus on it.
"I realised it must be a from an engine, as my brother used to work for Rolls Royce."
He took the find to a neighbour, Peter Parnham, of West End Lane, who is a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight guide at Coningsby.
Mr Parnham's research pinpointed the plaque as 'almost certainly' coming from the engine of Hampden AD970, a bomber which crashed into the sea no more than half a mile from Skegness Pier on July 30, 1941.
The crew on board the Hampden – nicknamed flying coffins because of their cramped interior – were pilot Sgt Lockyer and Sgt S.E.Thurston, of Norwich, accompanied by AC 1 Sissons.
Shortly after take-off from RAF Coningsby, the plane was seen flying 'low and slow' off the shoreline, before suddenly stalling and spinning into the sea.
Sgt Lockyer and AC 1 Sissons escaped, but Sgt Thurston's body was never recovered. It is planned that the plaque, and the history uncovered by Mr Parnham, be donated to a local museum.
And Mr Bainbridge will continue to delve into the hidden secrets of the land. "That is the joy of it," he said. "When you get the signal you never know whether it is going to be the crown jewels or a bottle top."