14th March 1941

Jerseyman is shot down in a Wellington aircraft

William Marett was born in Jersey at the end of the First World War, and lost his life in the middle of the Second World War, aged 23, when the Wellington aircraft in which he was flying was shot down over the Netherlands. Part of 149 Squadron, Marett was flying out of Suffolk’s RAF Mildenhall en route to a bombing raid on oil refineries in Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley. In total, six crew were onboard the aircraft, with Marett acting as gunner. The Wellington was tracked on radar before being illuminated using searchlights, making it very difficult for the lumbering plane to shake off the nimbler combat aircraft sent to intercept it.


In December 2018, the Jersey Evening Post ran a story about two Dutch metal detectorists who had been exploring the crater caused by the crashing Wellington, which had been shot down by a Messerschmidt fighter with all of 106 of its bombs and more than 1300 incendiaries on board. 

When the detectorists had first visited the crash site it was still winter and the crater had been flooded. However, they returned in the summer when the crater had dried out, and found sufficient parts of the aircraft both to identify its name and model from which they were able to determine where it had come from. That gave then the names of the lost crew.

The day after the story was published, Marett’s Jersey-based relatives contacted the detectorists and helped fill in some of the details that were missing from their story.


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