AN antiques dealer has bought a unique painting of a little-known plane crash which occurred in a village during the Second World War.

Mark Marchant, who has been running a shop in his name in Market Hill, Coggeshall, for 49 years, bought the artwork for just £75 from close friend and artist John Smith.

The painting shows an American B26 Marauder which crash-landed close to a row of houses in Coggeshall on June 17, 1944.

The crew inside the plane had been returning to Rivenhall Airfield but ended up plunging into a row of gardens in Grange Hill just a mile away after running out of fuel.

Miraculously no residents were hurt in the incident and the crew of the Marauder also escaped uninjured.

Mr Marchant, who is 85, said: “John showed me the painting because he thought I might be interested.

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.

“There aren’t many people who know about it because the Rivenhall Aerodrome was kept quite secret and there was nothing in the newspapers about the crash.

“I guess the Americans also didn’t want people finding out about it because it was a bit embarrassing.

“Apparently there were people at the scene who took pictures of it even though they weren’t allowed to. Some people were stopped by security but a few people managed to get photos before the plane was taken away.

“John was able to get hold of one of the pictures and do the painting many years later.”

Mr Smith added: “I was only 18 months old at the time so I didn’t know much about it.

“I got hold of a photo which was taken by a civilian who had lived nearby and seen the crash.

“He was probably breaking the law by taking the photo. I still have it somewhere in my house today.

“I had sold the painting about 20 years ago to a woman but she didn’t want it anymore so I ended up buying it back. I’ve now sold it on to Mark and made a small profit.”

Mr Marchant says he plans to have the painting framed and will then hang it from a wall in his shop.