Metal Detecting in Devon and Dorset

WWII Aircraft Crash Survey


dartmoor aircraft crash


I'm often contacted to help find and recover lost items, normally rings, but this project was a little different.

In the late evening of Friday, 21st March, 1941, an RAF Hampden Bomber crashed onto Dartmoor.  John Lowe has a passion for history and as a pilot himself wanted to know more about this crash.  He began researching the final operation of X3054, it's crew and the final resting place on the slopes of Hameldown Dartmoor.

It was realised early in the research project that an archaeological survey of the area in which it was thought the crash of X3054 took place might reveal something positive.

In December of 2013, a Home Office licence was granted to John for just such a purpose and he contacted me to see if I could help investigate the area.  I was able to not only confirm the exact area of the crash but find tiny items from the aircraft itself, taking the project to a new level.

john lowe paul williams metal detecting in devon


Small items were removed and taken for identification by staff at the Royal Air Force Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at RAF Cosford in Shropshire; those items were positively identified as belonging to X3054.

One of the items found was a fragment of ruler with a tiny metal clasp still attached.  This is believed to be the very ruler used by the navigator at the time of the crash in conditions described by eyewitnesses as thick fog.

Click on image to enlarge:

This was an interesting project but also quite sombre.  It was hard work locating signals and the initial rush of excitement on recovery was soon replaced by a reminder of the tragic accident that occured.

For more information on this project and to buy a copy of "The Boys" by John Lowe, I have put together a seperate website called


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"Paul is a miracle worker! I lost my wedding ring whilst walking the dog in a wooded area.  We searched for 2 weeks without success. 

"I contacted Paul who managed to find it with his metal detector in a different area to where we thought it was lost. To say he is thorough is an understatement. Thank you Paul so much!"


Minelab Metal Detectors

"Paul has been metal detecting in my fields and at my home for many years now. He has made some very fascinating finds including many coins, buckles, toy Dinky cars and even the remains of an old purse!

"Paul is a credit to himself and to the hobby and I would be happy to recommend Paul to any landowner as a decent and trustworthy individual"

David Glynn

Gold Roman Coin