Crashes and wrecks


During March 1897 the Norwegian barque  Nornen had tried out to ride out a storm in the lee of the Lundy Roads but lost all her sails and was driven towards Berrow mud flats. The John Godfrey Morris lifeboat was launched on the morning of March 3 when the crippled ship was spotted just off Gore Sands. The ship’s crew of ten, together with their dog, were taken off by the lifeboat and landed safely at Burnham at three o’clock in the afternoon.

The rescue is recorded on the honours board of rescues made by the three lifeboats at Burnham during the period from 1867 to 1930 and which today stands in the entrance to the Burnham RNLI Station. For more information see

The barque was lightened in an attempt at salvage but could not be moved and was driven higher up the sands by a second gale. So as we see today, the wreckage is still there.

Burnham Beach Jan 04_3
The Nornen today.




U.S.  B17 Flying Fortress crash landed on Burnham beach on 31st December 1943 after being damaged during a bombing raid on german held targets in France. There were no fatalities. For further information see


Jet on beach

jet on beach 2

Vampire Jet EEFB5VV698	Engine blew up so forced to land on beach at Burnham 11.10.1952




Stranded ship 2
Thanks to Pete Pengelly and Alan Wheway for identifying this event as 1970 or after and providing other details. Thanks also to Iain Howe for the information that the vessel is  coastal tanker  the m/t Burgundy, owned by Bowker & King London. See comments below for details .

11 thoughts on “Crashes and wrecks”

  1. The Morris 100 van centred at the bottom of the picture has a J at the end of it’s registration.
    That would make it 1970 or later.
    I was about 18 when this happened.
    The tankers used to unload regularly at the Dunball Shell Mex / BP depot now the site of ADT car auctions.
    This one left on the next tide I think. I don’t remember it being very there long.

    1. Nigel
      a “J” registration was for 1971. I had owned an Austin 1300 with a”J” plate. Just being very, very pedantic. I also remember a boat running aground by the Clarence and being in the snug bar at that time and overhearing two men from the ship speaking Russian (i learnt Russian at school). It may have been this ship, although it was not an isolated event.

      1. The coastal tanker on the beach is the m/t Burgundy , owned by Bowker & King London. While working for company, I sailed with captain who had beached vessel. First time seeing photo though.

        1. Thanks for the information Iain. Glad we have been able to show you a picture of the event you had not seen before. I have updated the text to include your information.

  2. Flying Fortress crash – landing.
    My Father was stationed at R.A.F. Locking during that time on a flight mechanics course.
    He and others were sent to the crash site with rifles to guard the aircraft from souvenir hunters.
    On reading the news report, they did not manage to stop the plundering. No wonder my Father said there was no ammunition in the rifles.
    He remembers one of the crew asking him to take photographs which he duly obliged.
    His name is Robert Cook now aged 92 living in Stourbridge, West Midlands.

  3. Just being a little pedantic here and also wishing to ensure an accurate record. The Vampire accident was not late 1950’s but in fact occurred on 11 October 1952 and involved an FB5 variant flying from RAF Chivenor with 229 Operational Conversion Unit.

    I am very interested on this accident and would love to know whether anyone has any other photographs I could see and also maybe the pilots name. In fact any information would be wonderful.


    Brian Lewis

  4. To join the glorious company of pedants…………………..The’ Nornen’ seems to have no funnel, nor a propellor, so can it be called SS, which stands for Steam Ship?

    1. Hi Clive,

      You are probably quite right. I don’t know how the S.S. slipped in there but even I, as a nautical ignoramus, do really know what it stands for. I hadn’t spotted that the photo shows no evidence of it being any such thing! I have now removed the offending initials. Thanks for the heads-up we do like to be as accurate as possible.

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