Scuba divers from Keighley have discovered wreckage of a crashed Second World War plane.

They found the engine block of the Royal Navy Grumman Avenger while diving in Wastwater, in the Lake District.

Now the team from the Keighley branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) is trying to glean more information about the crash and the three airmen whose lives it claimed.

The Grumman Avenger smashed into a scree slope, known as Great Gully, high above Wastwater in January 1945 during a night-time exercise. The pilot and his two colleagues died instantly.

“There seems to be very little known about them,” said Keighley club member Graham Clay, an IT manager.

“We have trawled the internet and what records we can, but there is scant information out there.”

He said they had established that the pilot was Canadian Barnard J Kennedy, who they understand is buried at Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire and has a memorial in his native Hamilton, Ontario. He was a lieutenant with the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve.

His wireless operator was Yorkshireman Phillip Royston Mallorie, a Royal Navy leading airman, who is believed to have been laid to rest at Inskip, Lancashire.

The navigator was a Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve midshipman called Gordon Fell, who was buried in his hometown of Accrington.

Mr Clay said he and his fellow divers were keen to trace any relatives of the dead men.

“We would love to discover who they were, what they were like and, if we can, find out what actually happened to cause the crash,” he said.

Club members, who found the plane’s engine block in about six metres of water, plan to return to Wastwater in the spring to search for other debris.

“We believe the tail section is in one piece and also in Wastwater but we are yet to locate it,” said Mr Clay, 43.

“Apparently you can still find small pieces of aluminum and other debris from the crash on the scree slope, although Great Gully is difficult and very dangerous to access.

“I think the engine block and tail section, being heavy, slid down the scree and basically dropped into the lake.

“We suspect much more of the wreckage lies in Wastwater and is just waiting to be found.”

Mary Tetley – chief executive of the BSAC, the national governing body for scuba and snorkelling – said: “Our club members are very passionate about their sport and the amazing adventures you can get involved in.

“This research by Keighley Sub Aqua Club is just another example of the wonderful voluntary work which is conducted by our members. I wish them lots of luck with their search. The whole story sounds fascinating.”

Anyone with further information about the airmen or the crash can contact Mr Clay on grahamclay@blueyon or 07900 135288.