Liberator crash at Watergate Bay 1943

Liberator crash at Watergate Bay 1943

On 28 December 1943 a United States PB4Y1 Liberator named ‘Muck’s Mauler’ took off from RAF St Mawgan carrying nine crew and four passengers. Shortly after take-off it’s believed the plane got into difficulties and tried to turn back to base. However, during this attempt the plane came down and crashed into the cliffs at Watergate Bay killing all 13 service personnel on board.

A rescue mission was launched but resulted in a further five casualties due to the incoming tide.

Liberator crews like ‘Muck’s Mauler’ were tasked to watch out for, and sink, German submarines or U-boats which were a threat to Britain’s food and war material supplies being shipped to Cornwall.

At the time a then 14 year old Douglas Knight cycled to Watergate Bay and witnessed the wreck of the U.S Liberator.

The cliff was all burnt and the beach was covered with wreckage. For several years after this accident whenever we walked across this part of the beach we still found bits of the wreckage.’


And to this day wreckage from WW1 and 2 often washes onshore after a heavy sea.

On 18 February a WW2 bomb was uncovered at Watergate Bay and destroyed with controlled explosion by southern Diving Unit from Plymouth. Read the full story here.

12 thoughts on “Liberator crash at Watergate Bay 1943

  1. Colin Vercoe

    22nd Feb 2014 walking our dog on Watergate beach noticed objects protruding from the sand, uncovered by recent storms, on closer investigation it appears to be aircraft landing gear with large tyre with Dunlop Aeroplane moulded into it, landing gear frame encrusted with marine sand and corrosion, tyre torn and ripped but rubber is still in very good condition.

    1. Watergate Bay Post author

      Hi Colin, we’d love to know more about the wreckage you have found. Where on the beach did you discover this?

      If you have more details could you email [email protected] please, she may have to go on a little recon and see what she can find.



  2. Fiona

    My Dad was one of the people who had the plaque put up at Watergate. He went there the day after the crash and we have been finding things ever since. I went there
    at Easter time and found several bits from the plane. If you would like any further details please email me and I will get you in touch with my Dad

  3. D.Knight

    If you are interested to know anything about the Liberator crash at Watergate Bay
    near Newquay, in 1943,please contact me.

    Doug. Knight.

    1. Angeline Attena Lyons

      My uncle (Louis Attena) was part of the rescue party and I would very much like to learn as much as possible about the accident and the rescue attempt. I am planning on traveling to the UK this year and will visit the crash site. Are any of the objects that have been recovered over the years on display for public viewing? Any information you can provide will be most appreciated.

      1. frankie

        Hello Angeline,

        Unfortunately we’re not aware of any public display. If you contact RAF St Mawgan, their team will be able to point you in the correct direction 01637 857295.

        Team WGB

  4. Colin Vercoe

    Hi sorry for the delay in replying about the aeroplane wreckage that we found Watergate beach Feb 24th 2014. The position of the main undercarriage wreckage was springtide very low tide, approx 13:00pm, if you stood at top of beach steps looking out to sea it was at 30- 40 degrees right just above low water mark there was also lots of small pieces of aluminium debris in the rock pools and sand no paint or markings of any kind. From memory the wheel with the tyre was about 4 feet in diameter and possibly 18 inches wide,this event was after a big storm, we have been back several times since but have not seen it again. e mail [email protected]

  5. Colin Vercoe

    This could also be a world record for delayed reply to an email, once again sorry for the late reply
    Regards Colin Vercoe


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