It may have happened more than 70 years ago, but when a German bomber crash lands at the end of your garden, it’s not something you forget in a hurry.

Gordon Wiseman, 82, of Mercer Avenue, Great Wakering, was just seven years old when the Second World War arrived, quite literally, on his doorstep with a bang.

“It was August 24, 1940, a day I shall never forget. I was seven years old and at that time we lived in a council house in New Road, Great Wakering,” he recalls.

“At the very bottom of our garden was a home-made air raid shelter. At about 4pm my brother Norman and I stood on the roof of this air raid shelter watching a dog fight between some RAF Spitfires and German bombers, when to our amazement we suddenly realised that one of these bombers was heading straight for where we stood.

“The shelter was only just a few feet above the ground. We stood there unable to move like a pair of rabbits hypnotised in a car’s headlights.

“The plane flew between two trees, taking both the wing tips off before hitting the ground in a potato field no more than a hundred yards from where we were standing. On hitting the ground the aircraft spun round one hundred and eighty degrees and finished up facing the opposite direction.”

The German bomber – a KG53 Heinkel – was attacked by fighters during a raid on Hornchurch aerodrome. It landed with two wounded crewmen near Samuels Corner, Landwick.

Gordon, who is the youngest of nine boys and one girl, says the details of the crash and the immediate aftermath have remained super clear in his mind decades on.

“The first person to arrive on the scene was a man who lived just along the road, who was on leave from the RAF.

“He was quickly followed by some troops from the Highland Light Infantry, who were encamped in bell tents in a meadow down the end of our road.

“The crew were quickly rounded up and taken away in a lorry. I distinctly remember one of the crew, because he appeared so young – no more than 13 or 14 years old.

“After this a squad of soldiers from the Essex Regiment were drafted in and posted at the end of the field where the plane had crashed, to guard against souvenir hunters.

“They had a bell tent for sleeping accommodation and plenty of food, but no facilities for cooking!

“My mother took on the task of preparing their meals. One day when they were in their house eating their food, some of my elder brothers took advantage of their absence and stole some of the batteries and light fittings from the plane and rigged up a lighting system in our air raid shelter. It was probably the only private air raid shelter in the village to have electric lighting – we didn’t even have it in the house!

“On another occasion I was sitting in the pilot’s seat, playing with all the knobs and buttons, where there was a sudden very loud hissing noise which frightened the life out of me.

“I leapt out of the plane, ran across the potato field and up the garden path and indoors like a scalded cat. I thought that I had set a bomb off, but thinking about it many years later I came to the conclusion that I must have opened a valve to the oxygen tank.”

And while the Second World War claimed the lives of some 60million people world-wide, to a young Essex boy – the baby of his family – this crash was a thrilling episode.

“To me, at the age I was, the Second World War was a very exciting time. I did not know what the consequences of war were. I had no fears and no two days were ever the same – each day brought new excitements.”