Memorial unveiled to wartime crash pilot

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A memorial to a Spitfire pilot who died when his plane crashed near Longhoughton in 1943 has been unveiled.

Flying Officer Geoffrey Booth, 23, was serving with a detachment from No 57 Operational Training Unit at Boulmer and was conducting routine training from an airstrip near Boulmer village.

He had been given permission for one hour’s night flying in the vicinity but just seconds into his flight the plane struck the ground in Brocks Field, Longbank Farm.

Chris Davies, from Tyneside, spends much of his spare time researching Second World War aircraft crashes in Northumberland and it was he who discovered the reports of the crash after trawling through historical documents at the National Archives at Kew. He was determined to find the site of the Spitfire crash.

Chris contacted the owners of Longbank Farm, Harry and Caroline Chrisp, who had no record of a crash on their land. However, they kindly allowed Chris access to their fields once the crops had been ploughed and, with his aircrash-hunting poodle Roxy for company, he began his search on October 6.

Chris followed details on the crash report from 1943 but discovered some anomalies within it which made the search quite difficult.

However, during a thorough examination of the area using a metal detector, Chris picked up a signal and he discovered a brass belt buckle.

Even though the field had been ploughed many times over the years, it was fairly near the surface and soon afterwards he also found hydraulic piping, oxidised engine casing, small fragments of alloy fuselage and the remains of a live .303 machine gun round with the corroded clip still attached.

Chris buried the fragments that he found at the base of a post very close to where the engine had settled.

He said a prayer and after a moment’s reflection to the memory of Flying Officer Booth, placed a poppy cross on the site.

Flying Officer Booth is buried at Chevington Cemetery and the recorded date of death was November 22, 1943.

Mr and Mrs Chrisp have collaborated with Chris to provide a small memorial post, with an engraved plaque, giving the date of the crash and the name of the pilot.

This was unveiled with Mr Chrisp and Squadron Leader Mark Philipson from RAF Boulmer in attendance to represent the Royal Air Force. In recognition of a fellow RAF pilot, who had made the ultimate sacrifice in service of his country, a Search and Rescue Sea King from RAF Boulmer also provided a fly-past.