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Home   Gravesend   News   Article

Istead Rise resident John Franklin to give talk on experiences recovering Second World War bomber

18 January 2014
by Thom Morris
Rare German bomber plane the Dornier 17 - believed to be the only intact example of its kind in the world - is lifted from the seabed

Rare German bomber plane the Dornier 17 - believed to be the only intact example of its kind in the world - is lifted from the seabed

A man who led the diving team that uncovered the wreck of a lost Second World War German bomber is to give a talk about his experiences.

John Franklin, 75, of Istead Rise, coordinated numerous dives on the wreck between 2010 and 2012.

The grandfather-of-four, a member of the Blenheim Society and a dedicated Second World War researcher, was originally led to believe the wreckage was of a Blenheim bomber.

A dive team quickly discovered it was a Dornier 17, a rare find as none were believed to remain.

The RAF then became involved. They had known about the wreckage but kept it secret for fear of amateur divers disturbing the site.

Mr Franklin, who will be holding a talk on the subject next month in Gravesend, told the Messenger: “We had a dive team who, after going down, discovered it wasn’t a Blenheim at all.

“We all just stood there and thought ‘bugger’.

“However, what we’d stumbled across was the last known surviving Dornier. It’s unique.”

It was shot down in August 1940 and the talk, which takes place at Towncentric on February 15, follows the 73-year journey of the plane from taking off in Belgium on August 26, 1940 through to being raised from the sea bed in 2013.

The Dornier 17 was 52ft long with a wing span of 59ft and capable of carrying 2,000lb of explosives.

They were the principal aircraft used by the Luftwaffe to drop bombs on London.

John Franklin

John Franklin

Piloted by Feldwebel (Flt Sgt) Willi Effmert, two of the four crew members were killed and washed up in Holland and elsewhere in England when the plane was forced to make a crash landing on the Goodwin Sands, off the Ramsgate and Deal coast, after an air strike on August 26, 1940.

Visits to see the Dornier 17 German bomber that was recovered from the Goodwin Sands can now be made at RAF Cosford, Shropshire.

The fee paid to Mr Franklin, of Lyndhurst Way, will be going to the Blenheim Society.

The father-of-three added: “It’s ironic that a German bomber is helping to fund getting a British bomber flying again.”

The talk starts at 11am and costs £3. A further talk, due to demand, is expected to be held in October.

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