de Havilland Vampire VZ 106

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de Havilland Vampire VZ 106

October 9th 1953.

Two de Havilland Vampires were on exercise from RAF Pembrey (south of Carmarthen) where fighter pilots were trained with 233 OCU.

Leading the pair down through 8/8th cloud cover over the Brecon Beacons in Wales, Pilot Officer John Raymond Baldock struck the ground at high speed killing him instantly. The pilot of the second Vampire saw the ground through a break in the cloud and managed to pull up, but did not see what had happened to his leader.

P/O Baldock was from Portsmouth and was 21 years old. He is buried at Pembrey.

The layered image over the crash site photo above is of a twin seater Vampire T55 photographed at Cosford. It is a different variant to VZ 106, that being a single seater FB5. Don’t be fooled by the serial number on the image either.


Vampires first flew during WWII but never saw action. They were the next jets in service after the Gloster Meteor. The photo above shows Meteor WA591 and Vampire XJ771 in formation at Cosford, 2012.


Re; Selling wreckage on e-bay.

Most of the wreckage remaining at the site has been arranged to roughly describe the shape of the aircraft as an unusual tribute to P/O Baldock. Not all of course, there is some from the cockpit a short distance away…

And as you can see here, e-bay member thewesternfront was selling to the highest bidder a section of tailplane from P/O Baldock’s Vampire only a month ago (02 September 2012). This e-bay link will eventually expire, so I will record here that it says

“This is an original tail plane section of RAF vampire VZ106.The tail section is in nice condition with no major damage perfect for display of for a restoration job and is a very rare item of the second British raf jet to see service.This item has come from a private collection in kent.If you have any questions please ask..”

Of course, it has actually come from this crash site. There were five bids and it was sold for £22.

E-bay link…

52 comments on “de Havilland Vampire VZ 106
  1. bandman12 says:

    Haunting looks are usually reserved for black and white photos, and more difficult through natural color. This is a haunting photo from the landscape nicely paired with the wreckage and the ghostly looking flyover. Whoever would think that eBay would become an interesting bit of background to something like this. Well accomplished!

  2. Ian D B says:

    Thanks Cliff. I was trying to get that feeling so I am pleased it seems to have worked. Never thought about doing it in mono though… Food for thought there.

    Re; e-bay, the info presented is from various sources, the thing about selling wreckage is that here in the UK it is unlawful (unless ownership has been transferred by the Ministry of Defence which is unlikely as that would follow an authorised excavation) and certainly it is unethical. Making money off the sale of debris from an accident in which a young pilot died is revolting, to me at least. Had I known about the sale, I would have paid him his wretched £22 and carried the stuff back to the crash site myself and left it there.

  3. Richard Tierney says:

    :-(((((((( Despicable behaviour ….. like grave robbing to me so sad…. EBay have a lot to answer for.. don’t tell me they don’t know this to be an illegal activity, they are just a guilty by being an accessory after the fact.

    As per ,Ian nice job and the addition of the overflying Vampire .. nice touch. 🙂

    Very nice effort from like minded people to layout the wreckage into the plan view of the aircraft.

  4. humilesspiritu says:

    As always, Ian, lovely image – haunting. And the ebay selling really disturbs me – its selling part of someone’s grave, a sacred place which needs to be left undisturbed. How can we stop this happening?

  5. Tech Owl says:

    I like the idea of the ghost plane overhead – pity people are trying to cash in.

  6. Gary Shield says:

    Wow, superb stuff Ian. Hope you are well?

  7. bazylek100 says:

    I just wanted to say that stealing and selling wreckage from crash sites should be prosecuted as a criminal offence. Yes, it’s very much like grave robbing.
    Very good photo, Ian, and I like the ghost plane above the crash site (I’d make it slightly more transparent).
    Those Cosford air shows must be something to watch!!

  8. Kingsdude/Dave says:

    The ghost image works really well Ian – nice job 🙂

    As for Ebay and the buyers/sellers I would lock them all up and throw away the key ! To take wreckage from a site like this and try to profit from it makes them the lowest of the low to me – rant over !

  9. And who am i says:

    Sad that there is always some disrespective ‘A’ hole, how will try to make money, out of such a sad situation.
    Hope he’s haunted for the rest of his days.
    Nice one Ian.

  10. And who am i says:

    Sad that there is always some disrespective ‘A’ hole, how will try to make money, out of such a sad situation.
    Hope he’s haunted for the rest of his days.
    Nice one Ian.

  11. Deputy Don says:

    Yes, I totally support these sentiments. Unfortunately even if it’s illegal – which if it isn’t it certainly should be! – I don’t have much faith in "the powers that be" having the will to enforce it. Perhaps the RAFA might be able to start a public outcry over it?
    Oh, I love the ghost image, by the way!

  12. nondesigner59 says:

    Fabulous work.. Excellent layering..

  13. Ian D B says:

    [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

    Thanks for your thoughts everyone. I agree with everything everyone has said. [] Lesley I don’t know what can be done except raise awareness and complain to e-bay, or the press as e-bay don’t seem to care. This seems to happen a lot but of course there is not a lot left remaining; eventually it will all be stolen.

    This is our shared heritage being sold on e-bay for £22.

    Some people don’t view these remains the way we do, don’t have the same respect for the men who died at these places. They would argue they are not ‘grave robbing’ at all, because the human remains were removed. However there is now research to show that around 25% of crash sites where people were killed still contain human remains.

    American archeologist Terence Christian of the University of Glasgow, wrote

    "RAF standard policy was to recover as much of the crew as was possible. Obviously this meant that a lot of sites have 100% crew recovery. However should full crew recovery not be possible, the recovery teams were directed to obtain at least average birth weight (approximately 7-9 lbs) so that a legal grave could be established. Both archival research and interviews have shown that many marked graves contain only portions of the aircrew. Some wrecks which were ‘cleared’ of aircrew do, in fact, still contain unrecovered aircrew portions."

    Ref; Ness air crash plays a part in unearthing recent past

    It is a gruesome thing to consider, but a grave may have just contained one or two body parts, enough, as Terence says, for an official burial to take place. The more violent the crash, the more probable it was not everything was recovered.

    Last year Dave [] drew our attention to this news story in the Manchester Evening News.
    Fury Over Sale Of Plane Crash Wreckage On eBay

    The comments section on the photo below has a similar discussion regarding the removal and sale on e-bay of remains from the USAF Superfortress Over Exposed which crashed on Bleaklow in 1948. If you read the salvage report following that crash you will see how likely it was that not every part of every dead airman could have been removed. These places deserve the utmost respect.

    USAAF B-29 Superfortress 44-61999

  14. pasujoba says:

    I have tried time and again to get Ebay to ban these muppets who sell wreckage ,, it is illegal …but they just say get in touch with the police ….the police too are not interested . neither are the RAF who own the wreckage ( for all of us ). It seems nothing can be done to stop it!
    Great work Ian , that shot makes sense of the layout of the wreckage . the Cosford shot too shows the Vampire off very well !

  15. Gizzardtreedude says:

    I have read all the comments above.
    Taking away pieces of wreckage makes me so angry, what is the matter with these people??? Damn them. It is a crime and should be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.

  16. cgullz says:

    gosh i must be in a state, i near on cried when i saw that ghost plane .. might take a breather and do the reading later!

    [] Damn them indeed, Mark.

  17. rob of rochdale says:

    Cracking idea here Ian, love it!

  18. cgullz says:

    * utter utter utter bastards *
    this kind of stuff over here we take to t.v affairs shows that love to get their teeth into such material – human interest with an ethical twist.
    good on your for raising awareness.

  19. mick cooke says:

    Great image ian ,disgusting about eBay and even worse. About the seller he ought to be banned from using eBay

  20. Billy Currie says:

    great overlay, puts it into context

  21. RodtheRhodie says:

    Such a shame

  22. Ian D B says:

    [] [] [] [] [] [] []
    Thanks guys. The consensus is clear, removing wreckage from crash sites is bad enough but to then make money from selling it on shows an appalling lack of respect for our military dead.

    Paul [] , I know you have tried with e-bay and got nowhere. When the Manchester Evening News ran the story of the creep selling bits of Over Exposed, flea-bay were "unavailable for comment." They bucked up when it was debris from Ground Zero in New York, "Staff (at e-bay) stepped in to remove the entries advertising the grisly souvenirs," according to the BBC.

    What is odd about the Vampire site above is that because of the way the wreckage is laid out, you can see which bits are missing. That bit of tailplane sold by thewesternfront is missing, for instance.

    Anyway I just noticed another auction about to end, this is for a bit of Wellington R1164 which crashed on Box Law near Largs, 25 January 1942 killing ferry pilot F/O J.F.M. Millar.

    E-bay member, woods3618 boasts "I personally recovered this piece from the crash site in the 1970’s when there was still some wreckage left," adding that now "there is nothing left." No shit, Sherlock. I wonder why?

    Wreckage from a crashed WWII bomber currently on sale on e-bay

    I am not a member, I stopped using flea-bay for this reason. But the auction is still on. Someone could report it for what it’s worth? Or ask a question even….There are currently six bids for it. I am recording all these, pity I can’t record the identities of the buyers.

    Mark [], Ang [] they are sick and sad people. You remember the Red Arrows crashes last year? Flt Lt Jon Egging died in August 2011 when his jet crashed near Bournemouth. The BBC reported that immediately people were on the scene looking for bits to sell on e-bay.

    This document gives the legal position. These remains are Crown property.

  23. gastephen says:

    thewesternfront – what a douche!

  24. pasujoba says:

    Some great links there Ian . and some excellent research too . I have walked this path and failed miserably to achieve anything worthwhile.
    I just do not understand why the MOD do not say more about it …if the rules are there then at some point someone with enough clout thought enough about it to have the rules put in place .
    So what has changed ?
    We finally have the Bomber Command memorial but the facts about training and ferry piloting deaths remains an unknown to the population as a whole …..these thieves belittle the bravery of those who put their lives down on the line learning how to fly aircraft in combat .

  25. Ian D B says:

    [] Lol!
    [] It does fly in the face of our collective national respect – we wear poppies in November, we have the memorials as you say, and every night there are TV programmes celebrating these heroes…. But the tangible remains – and how many times do people say they are surprised to see there is still wreckage on the hills – are of not respected, in spite of the law.

    I really hope some of these sellers do a google search for their trophies and see these comments and know what people think of them.

  26. cgullz says:

    [] "It does fly in the face of our collective national respect – we wear poppies in November, we have the memorials as you say, and every night there are TV programmes celebrating these heroes…. But the tangible remains – and how many times do people say they are surprised to see there is still wreckage on the hills – are of not respected, in spite of the law" Well said that man!

    … Armistice Day is coming up [we have on the 11/11 not sure if you do the same] .. maybe a chance to push this with the MOD / media?

  27. cgullz says:

    It’s a little bit country, but from an oldtime fav movie of mine .. picked it up while looking for a clip to add to Paul’s latest orangutang shot … seemed appropriate.

  28. Ian D B says:

    I see someone has asked woods3618 who is selling a bit of wreckage from a crash site the following question;

    "I thought removal of such items from public space / gravesites would be illegal? Can you confirm you are legally able to sell this item?"

    woods3618 replied;

    "LOL! Nice one. It was NOT taken from a grave or" public space" it was abandoned 70 years ago on private land and is legitimate salvage. If the RAF need this part back for spares then they are free to bid like everybody else. I have had it for 30 years so yes it is mine to sell."

    The Good Guys and The Bad Guys! Yup.

  29. cgullz says:

    [] 😉

  30. Deputy Don says:

    Methinks he doth protest too much – I’ve sucked lemons that were sweeter than that guy’s special pleading!

  31. stopherjones says:

    Completely agree with the comments about the disgraceful theft from these crash sites. What do people who buy them even do with them, sit in their sheds just looking at it? For what? Out of the context from where they were stolen they are just bits of old metal, might as well put them in the recycling.

    Still, that all just underlines what a great photo this is, haunting beauty in the landscape and aircraft silently gliding overhead.

  32. Ian D B says:

    Thanks Don. Yeah it’s shocking. He walked up a hill, took something home that didn’t belong to him and then says that because he has had it 30 years it is therefore his to sell! He referred to it as being ‘legitimate salvage’ but the legislation around that is with regards ship wrecks not RAF crash sites. The remains still belong to the Crown. (Besides, if he was hoping to worm out of this by citing salvage law then he should have given consideration to the PROTECTION OF WRECKS ACT 1973)

    [] Cheers Chris. If the stuff were to make it to a museum exhibition, and people would see it, then maybe that is a good reason for removing debris, if it means more people get to know about these lost airmen. But otherwsie it is just pointless scrap metal that will be on a shelf in someone’s shed until the person dies and then it will get thrown out as you say. The real selling point – and the thing which angers decent folk – is that there is death associated with these remains, as with debris from 9/11 and the ghouls who were looking for stuff after the Red Arrows crashes and Lockerbie.

  33. RHL Images says:

    Great image and very thought provoking.

    As for selling wreckage in the UK it is an offence under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 to interfere with the crash site of a military aircraft.

    A complaint to the nearest police station to the crash site is in order, and maybe quote the Act.

  34. PeaceLoveScoobie says:

    Excellent job Ian!

  35. xjboy550 says:

    Hi Ian Love the picture and background work ! the creepy magpie selling the stolen remains that were removed had better read this as I can find no legal exemption for 30 years or private=

  36. Ian D B says:

    [] []
    Thanks very much for your comments both. I think I will do more with this….
    Thanks Keith!

  37. And who am i says:

    [] We should all chip in and privately prosecute him.
    Or find out where he lives and……

  38. And who am i says:

    [] We should all chip in and privately prosecute him.
    Or find out where he lives and……

  39. f3liney says:

    Great image and write-up Ian.
    Sickened about the ebay issue though.
    Echoing especially []’s comment. I hope these vultures are haunted for the rest of their days.

  40. bill_fawcett says:

    Very nice with the ‘phantom’ Vampire! Shame that people should steal items from these sites.

  41. Ian D B says:

    [] [] [] Thanks all. Quite fitting, the sentiment about being haunted given the phantom shot!

  42. xjboy550 says:

    Ah just figured out why this is such a good shot it reminds me of the cover of Frederick forsyth’s the shepherd a short story he wrote about a lost vampire pilot !

  43. Ian D B says:

    This one? Yes it does, well spotted. Or did you mean the one with the ghost Mosquito? Years since I read that, need a trip to amazon I think…


  44. xjboy550 says:

    Yep that’s the one ! still got my dog eared copy , this is also worth a listen for any not into the whole book thing !

  45. *Psycho Delia* says:

    Another amazing shot. The info is very thought provoking.

  46. pasujoba says:

    I,ve read that book , its only a short story so an easy read in one sitting . I remeber liking it so reasd it twice ….it was long before I had an interest in these thing s!

  47. Ian D B says:

    [] []
    Good idea… But my new copy arrived this morning from Amazon.
    Thanks Liz!

  48. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Cool Idea.

  49. amyrey says:

    Beggars belief that someone would sell artifacts such as you describe on eBay. £22 eh. Hope the seller put the money to good use…. donated to a serviceman charity perhaps.

    Doubt it.

  50. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Clever Image.

  51. eddie medcalfe says:

    I was stationed at r.a.f. pembrey at the time and on duty crew at the time of the crash I spent 2 days with that plane.
    I did not feel good.

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  1. […] was rearranged into the rough shape of a Vampire in tribute to its downed pilot. But sadly, as writes, the remains have begun to slowly disappear as souvenir hunters and unscrupulous collectors […]

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