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Now available!

Spitfire PR IB N3069 now overdue/ The unique story of Photographic Reconnaissance pilot Flying Officer Claude Mervyn Wheatley (ISBN 978-90-9031134-0)

Around noon on 22 March 1940 a secret Royal Air Force Photographic Reconnaissance aircraft was intercepted and brought down 25km east from Arnhem, The Netherlands.

It was the very first combat loss of a Spitfire during WW2. This is the story of F/O Wheatley

70 Pages with many rare photographs and documents.

Price: £ 19 + £ 7 Int. Shipping or $ 25 + $ 9 Int. Shipping

Orders via email: mentioning Book Wheatley.

The unique story of Photographic Reconnaissance pilot Flying Officer Claude Mervyn Wheatley

Open house event 27 & 28 october 2018!

from 11.00 till 1600 hour

Museum Arga

Heideweversweg 1 / 1a

7255 LV Hengelo (Gelderland)

Open dag


Several new leads regarding the exact crash site of Spitfire PR IB N3069 were received after 3 given PPT presentations about this a/c. As some of you perhaps know the exact location of the crash site is still not 100% sure. These new tips were very promising and had to be investigated.

During the PPT presentation for the main Air War Research Group in the Netherlands(SGLO) a kind offer was made by a privately owned company specialized in munitions disposal and research to carry out a magnetometer research of the assumed area where the Spitfire had crashed.


After getting permission to do search the research was carried out on 23 December. The search grid was set and by 11.00 a.m. the search was going full steam ahead. The first results of the search look very promising as several interesting anomalies were found in the otherwise clean search grid. Further analyses of the results are taken place at this very moment… be continued!


Mr. Vincent Lambooy from Loerbeek(GLD) donated several a/c parts. The majority of these parts are from a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress which crashed on 22 June 1943 in the vicinity of Beek(GLD). The father of Vincent salvaged these parts just after the crash of the bomber. Among these relics are many ball turret parts, oxygen related items, switch boxes and gears. Our foundation is very thankful for his donation!

berging B17  berging B17  berging B17  berging B17  Berging Boeing B-17F   berging spitfire terborg 3  berging spitfire terborg 1 

The B-17F was shot down on the return flight from the target by German fighters which were engaging in large numbers at approximately 09.45 hours on 22 June 1943. The B-17F with serial no. 42-29826 belonged to the 508th Bombardment Squadron of the 351st Bombardment Group(Heavy).


The target for that day was Hüls(GE). The pilot Leo P. Turgeon struggled to keep his heavily damaged B-17 flying but two engines were already on fire and gave the order to bale out. He and his crew got out in time and landed safely onto Dutch soil. His crew consisted out of the following men:

  1. 1/Lt Leo P. Turgeon (Pilot)
  2. 2/Lt Burton W. Caruso (Co-pilot)
  3. 2/Lt Charles R. Bryant, Jr. (Navigator)
  4. 2/Lt John R. Turney (Bombardier and Nose Gunner)
  5. T/Sgt John W. Cabaniss (Flight engineer and Top Turret gunner)
  6. S/Sgt Lawrence J. Ferns (Radio operator)
  7. Sgt Edward Knower Jr (Left waist gunner)
  8. Sgt Video Pacciotti (Ball Turret gunner)
  9. S/Sgt Fred L. Aye (Right waist gunner)
  10. S/Sgt Leasure B. McGinniss (Tail Gunner)

The a/c exploded in mid air after all crew cleared the bomber and debris came down over a large wooded area of the “Montferland Forrest” East of the village of Beek(GLD).

During the 1990’s extensive research in these woods revealed many a/c parts including the complete left waist gun. The donated parts are thus a very important part for the story behind this crash which will published on the site in the very near future….to be continued!!

berging Spitfire Terborg 23  B17_.50cal_clean 


After analyzing the results of the GPR investigation (which were hopeful but not conclusive) which was carried out in February this year it was decided that a dig was necessary in order to find out exactly how many of the Messerschmitt 109G-6 remained at the site after it crashed in September 1944 near the village of Netterden near the Dutch-German border.


Many eyewitness accounts didn’t tell the same story of how much was recovered by German forces during the war and scrap metal dealers in the 1950’s. On Saturday August 4 an investigation was carried out at the crash site. We used a smaller digger then usual because the main goal of the dig was to see if the remains were untouched or when not if there was a enough material left that could be used for identifying this aircraft.

ME109 dashboard parts

Early during the dig it became apparent that somewhere in the past a recovery (attempt) was carried out. At a depth of 1 ½ meter wooden boards were found which were used to strengthen the sides of the hole.

schakelaar dashboard ME 109

After these boards were removed the untouched cockpit remains were found. Large pieces of the wooden instrument panel, many instruments and the starboard side MG 131 13mm machine gun were found in a remarkable state of preservation. Sadly we had to conclude that all large aircraft parts were gone…engine, fuselage parts, landing gear etc etc thus limiting the chance of identifying this Me109. But after close inspection of the instruments this chance improved by more then 75%.

The RPM gauge was of the electrically driven type as normally the mechanically driven type would be installed. Further investigation learned that this type of RPM gauge was installed to the Me109’s which were equipped with the 3cm MK 108 canon. This was confirmed when we also found the canon cocking button which was installed to the KG13B control column. The were only a few units equipped with the MK 108 in this time period and area of operations giving us a far greater chance identifying this Messerschmitt Me109G-6 U4.

We have to conclude that even when using state of the art research equipment in many cases one has to dig to see what lies beneath. We also can conclude that our goal which was set for this investigation was 100% successful. With the remains found it is possible and we have good hopes to identify pilot, unit and aircraft

To be continued…….


grond radar

ARGA deploys state of the art equipment!

For the first time a GPR system (Ground Penetrating Radar) was used by the foundation ARGA during the investigation at the crashsite of a German fighter. First results were very positive and will be further analised. As soon as there is something to report it will be published on the website.


Our first fieldtrip of 2011 is a fact. The possible crashsite of a Luftwaffe fighter was investigated on saturday March 12, 2011. The ARGA received a tip that local coinhunters found some aluminium parts on a field, which proved to be true after a short research with our metaldetectors.


Small aluminium parts of mainly the wing area were found. None of these parts could confirm the type though. At the end of the debris field, which was very large and long, the righthand side of the cockpitwindow of a Messerschmitt Me 109 was found identifying the a/c type. Research with the deepsearch metaldetector turned up nothing. The task ahead is to try and identify this a/c which will be a difficult job.

investigation location


marriage Mervin Wheatley   newspaper Wheatley

Rain and wet circumstances has halted our fieldwork to a complete stop. Our autumn project is due to these circumstances postponed until 2011. However our archive research is going full steam ahead.

The following information was found with the help of Albert Wheatley from Worthing, Sussex. In an effort in finding more information regarding the crash of Spitfire PRIB N3069 the ARGA came in contact with Albert Wheatley. No family but very interested in the airwar he was able to help us and found some newspaper clippings mentioning the marriage of F/O Wheatley but also him being MIA.

F/O Wheatley started his training at 6 FTS on 19-09-1936 and graduated 21-05-1937. He was posted with 105 squadron at Rheims, France flying Fairey Battle during the Phoney War period. Early 1940 several pilots, Wheatley among them, volunteered for the Photographic Development Unit.

(source: Albert Wheatley, Worthing and Photographic Reconnaissance by Andrew J Brookes)


Our work in the first half of 2010 was completely stopped due to personal circumstances. We are now thankfully in somewhat more "calm waters"

working in the field

In July we carried out two investigations at the crash sites of German fighters. We were able to determine the a/c types, being a Fw190 and Me109. All what was found were small rest parts. But some small pieces of the puzzle were put in place in finding these two crash sites. More to follow soon…..

Spitfire engine

The Merlin 66 from the Spitfire recovered at Wehl was put on a display stand late last year as you can see on the photo above.

Hopefully we will be able to report more often and frequently the second half of 2010.

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