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Supermarine Spitfire NM814 – 03/07/1948.

On the 3rd July 1948 at about 15:00 hours Flying Officer Peter Geldart of No 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force took off in Supermarine Spitfire No NM814 on a navigation exercise to Morpth.

The flight of three Spitfires soon ran into cloud and became separated with two of the aircraft returning to RAF Woodvale. Flying Officer Geldart carried on until he ran into trouble in cloud due to turbulence, after coming down from 6,000 feet to 3,500 feet Flying Officer Geldart the spitfire over knowing the hills were at 2,600 feet he baled out in the area of Kirkby Stephen. He was still in cloud when he landed badly causing his ankle to be injured. He had no time in which to contact Woodvale to inform them of his intentions to bale out.

The aircraft dived vertically into the ground at Coldbergh Edge and burst into flames, the aircraft was found to be buried in the ground by a group of local residents and not knowing if the pilot was still in the wreckage or not a search was started in heavy rain and fog to look for Flying Officer Geldart who was eventually found sitting on a rock unable to walk.

Due to a breakdown in communications in the fact that Flying Officer Geldart had been found had not been passed on therefore a search of the aircraft’s route was carried out in foul weather by a Lancaster and Spitfires from Woodvale, there was even a radio broadcast just before the 21:00 hour news on the BBC Home Service asking for information on a missing pilot and aircraft. Just before this broadcast Flying Officer Geldart managed to contact Woodvale and report to his unit he was safe, he was then taken to the station sick quarters at RAF Catterick to have his injured ankle treated.

In 1988 the remains of Spitfire No NM814 were recovered, 2½ tons of wreckage were recovered including the Rolls Royce Griffon engine.