THE wreck of a Second World War fighter plane that has been lying undisturbed at the bottom of a Lake District tarn since the crash that claimed the lives of both its crew has been rediscovered 60 years on.

A team of divers that included Bill Smith, who recovered the wreck of Donald Campbell's Bluebird from Coniston Water, fulfilled a long-standing ambition to dive Red Tarn on Helvellyn, where they located the disintegrated wreck of the de Havilland Mosquito Mk XII night fighter.

The two crewmen perished in the cross-country training exercise on February 10, 1945, which saw the Mosquito collide with the summit of Catstycam and crash on the rocky slopes of Striding Edge above Red Tarn.

The remains of Australians Warrant Officer William Frost and Flight Sergeant Corbie Marshall were recovered and they were buried at Blacon Cemetery, in Chester.

The story of the crash had long held a fascination for Bluebird Project member Graeme Connacher, from Glenridding, who remembers taking a dinghy on the tarn as a youngster and being able to see some metallic wreckage.

He and Bill Smith put together a small team to dive the tarn and try to find the wreck. They were particularly hoping to locate the two Rolls-Royce Mk XXI Merlin engines.

The team was helped by Patterdale man Eddie Pool who, at age 15, was an eye witness to the aftermath of the crash, and who remembered wreckage being strewn along the lower slopes of Striding Edge.

After the remains of the crew had been recovered, he recalled that the rest of the aircraft was pushed out onto the thick ice covering the tarn. When the ice melted in the spring, the wreckage fell into the deep waters.

Using an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) underwater camera, the team surveyed the tarn from its deepest point of around 21 metres to the edge.

Bluebird divers Bill Smith and Carl Spencer, together with Gordon Burton, from Penrith, recovered objects for photographing. Although the site is not a war grave, the wreckage was returned to the tarn after identification.

"From the amount of wreckage recovered over a wide area, and the severe damage that has occurred, it was clear the crash had to be catastrophic," said Mr Connacher.

"We had hoped to find some intact Merlin engines but we now think that they were largely broken up on impact.

"As with Bluebird in Coniston, the condition of the metal and the aluminium was good after decades in fresh water."

Bill Smith said the expedition was a good exercise in diving at high altitude, which presents additional physical challenges.

Diving to depths of 19 metres to see a wreck that been lying untouched for 60 years proved to be an eerie experience.

"I don't think it had been seen since. It was a bit strange, as you are swimming down hill and there are pieces of wreckage stretching as far as you can see.

"It's a little bit of history that we have dug out, just really to know that it's really there and it's not a myth we have confirmed it and put our hands on it."

The team finished the day's diving with a toast to the crew members.