Wales

Harlech crash site: WW2 aircraft given protected status

P-38 Lightning plane on the seabed Image copyright J Mearman/Bangor University
Image caption The P-38 Lightning plane on the seabed during one of the times it was exposed

An American fighter plane that crashed off the north Wales coast in World War Two is to be protected for its historic and archaeological importance.

Cadw, the historic monuments agency, said it was the first time a military aircraft crash site in the UK had been legally protected in this way.

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is buried two metres under the sand at Harlech, Gwynedd.

Its pilot survived, but was reported missing in action months later.

The site is the best preserved military aircraft crash site in Wales, according to Cadw.

Although usually covered by sand, it has been visible three times since it crashed, in the 1970s, in 2007 and in 2014.

The plane went down in September 1942 when 2nd Lt Robert F Elliott, 24, flew from Llanbedr on a practice mission but ran into difficulties and had to crash land.

His nephew, also called Robert Elliott, who is retired from the US Navy, said of the decision: "I am honoured and delighted that Cadw has given official recognition of my uncle's P38F as a scheduled ancient monument.

"My uncle was among those brave and expert fighter pilots who served with distinction during WW2. My visit to the site with my wife Cathy in 2016 was very moving and emotional."

Lord Elis Thomas, deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism, said the scheduled designation would protect the site for the benefit of future generations.

"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."

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