AN EXHIBITION will be held later this year in Weymouth on a Second World War plane which was found off Chesil Beach.

Diver Selwyn Williams discovered the wreckage in September 1980.

He recalls: "After a fairly long swim I suddenly saw small fish where I had never found any wreckage before and I waited on the bottom then followed them back and the fish got bigger and the shoal became denser then all of a sudden out of the gloom ahead I could see a shadow coming up standing proud of the bottom.

"What was it? It was indeed some sort of wreckage and I managed to swim up and over the obstacle as the tide swept me towards it and as I did I turned and grabbed hold of something to stop me being swept past it."

Mr Williams remembers seeing an upside down plane with a wheel, with a seemingly inflated rubber tyre still pulled up inside each wing and then he noticed twin machine guns in both wings."

Mr Williams, recalling the discovery in the Dorset Year Book 2018, noticed the nose of the plane was buried in the pebbles and said he grabbed hold of one of the engine's glycol radiators which would have hung below the engine but now stood proud of the seabed.

He remembers: "The fuselage was broken off behind the wing with quite a few tangled pieces of wire there."

After having a look around the remains of the plane Mr Williams made a sketch on his diving slate then swam to the beach to get some marks on the beach so he would be able to find it again.

At work the next day Mr Williams discussed his discovery with his colleague. After describing the landing gear to his colleague, it was discovered he had found an American built P40.

Ten years on, there were no details available of a plane crashing off Chesil Beach, except for a local fisherman saying a Spitfire went down in the area in November 1941 and another fisherman saying there was a wreck of an American aircraft nearby.

In 1992 Mr Williams got hold of a book with different aircraft types in and all P40s were in the book.

"Sure enough there it was, a P40 numbered AH845, that had crashed off Chesil beach during a training flight but the pilot was picked up by Seaplane tender ST 840 standing by the firing range off Chesil Beach.

"The plane was a P40 Mark I Tomahawk, a P40B and it and 229 others were originally ordered by the French but with the fall of France were diverted to the RAF so it had lots of French equipment, but then other British equipment was added, all on top of its US origins. "

The Canadian pilot was PO Harold Fraser English of 400 RCAF squadron, Mr Williams discovered, who had crashed into the sea on November 8 1941.

Mr Williams hoped that he could go through the RAF records and trace the pilot and present a trophy from his plane to him. But there was some sad news. After finding the records of the plane and Pilot Officer English, it was discovered that he had been shot down off Etaples, northern France, on December 13 1941 and reported as missing in action.

PO English was from Moncton, New Brunswick, in Canada and died aged 21. He was the son of Alfred Henry and Mary Elsie Fraser English and the husband of Dorothy Gordon English.

Mr Williams attempted to trace the family of PO Harold Fraser English but had no success.

The aircraft was raised from the sea bed in 1994.The raising took place on the weekend of the 50th commemorations for D-Day.

By the time Mr Williams went to buoy the plane day before recovery, its wings had gone. It was believed a trawler had caught the wings and pulled them off. But the list of recovered items were the two Glycol radiators, a British ICI fire extinguisher, machine gun shell ejection chutes, electrics, the engine with engine mount and the other engine mount, joy stick and instrument panel with the instruments. A set of engine exhaust stubs were recovered along with the rudder pedal marked H75 which was the identification plane number for the Curtiss Mohawk. The items were all conserved and later displayed in Weymouth Museum.

But Mr Williams was still curious to find out more about the plane's pilot. Reference to him was found on the Second World War memorial and posted on 400 RCAF squadron's web page, but it was only last year when Harold English's great nephew Fraser Ash contacted Mr Williams. He sent photos and family details of his great uncle.

Mr Williams recently visited a collection of fighter planes at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. Among them was a P40C which was what the upgraded Mark 1 Tomahawk would have looked like, so Mr Williams was able to compare the salvaged items.

It is unknown where the last remains of the aircraft are that PO Harold English was flying when he was shot down. But he is remembered at the Runnymeade Memorial in Englefield Green near Egham in Surrey.

A full exhibition on his aircraft and Harold English's history will be displayed at the Old Town Hall in Weymouth in the next few months.

*The full story of Selwyn Williams's aircraft recovery can be read in the Dorset Year Book 2018. The Dorset Year Book 2018 is priced at £8 is available from Books Afloat in Park Street, Weymouth and Dorchester TIC.