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Liberator crash at Watergate Bay in 1943

On 28 December 1943 a United States PB4Y1 Liberator named ‘Muck’s Mauler’ took off from RAF St Mawgan carrying nine crew and four passengers. Shortly after take-off it’s believed the plane got into difficulties and tried to turn back to base. However, during this attempt the plane came down and crashed into the cliffs at Watergate Bay killing all 13 service personnel on board.

A rescue mission was launched but resulted in a further five casualties due to the incoming tide.

Memorial plaque from liberator plane crash reading In memory of 13 US airmen who died in Dec. 1943 when their Liberator Plane crashes here. Also 5 US personnel from St. Mawgan who were downed in a rescue mission

Liberator crews like ‘Muck’s Mauler’ were tasked to watch out for, and sink, German submarines or U-boats which were a threat to Britain’s food and war material supplies being shipped to Cornwall.

At the time a then 14 year old Douglas Knight cycled to Watergate Bay and witnessed the wreck of the U.S Liberator.

The cliff was all burnt and the beach was covered with wreckage. For several years after this accident whenever we walked across this part of the beach we still found bits of the wreckage.

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