Monday, 16 April 2012 08:53

Twenty Spitfires buried in Burma during WW2 to be repatriated to UK

    Twenty Spitfires that were buried in Burma during the Second World War are to be restored and repatriated to the UK.

    David Cameron struck up the deal with Burmese president Thein Sein in a bid to thaw relations.

    The move will see the historic fighter planes located, dug up and shipped back to the UK almost 67 years after they were hidden more than 12m (40ft) below ground under British instruction.

    A Downing Street source said: 'The Spitfire is arguably the most important plane in the history of aviation, playing a crucial role in the Second World War.

    'It is hoped this will be an opportunity to work with the reforming Burmese government, uncover, restore and display these fighter planes and get them gracing the skies of Britain once again.'

    The forgotten aircraft were brought to the attention of the prime minister by a 62-year-old farmer from Scunthorpe, North Lincs, who finally found them at an old RAF base using radar imaging technology in February.

    David Cundall has invested 15 years searching for the Mk II planes. His quest has seen him take 12 trips to Burma, costing him more than £130,000 in the process.

    Mr Cundall told the Daily Telegraph: 'I’m only a small farmer, I’m not a multi-millionaire and it has been a struggle. It took me more than 15 years but I finally found them.

    'Spitfires are a beautiful aeroplane and should not be rotting away in a foreign land. They saved our neck in the Battle of Britain and they should be preserved.'

    And Mr Cundall is confident they will be preserved in all their former glory.

    'They were just buried there in transport crates. They were waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred. They will be in near perfect condition,' he added.

    British statesman Earl Mountbatten ordered the RAF to bury the Spitfires in 1945 amid fears they could be either used or destroyed by Japanese forces.

    Around 21,000 Spitfires were built during the war effort but only 35 are believed to be in flying condition today.

    Related World War History Online Posts

    • Restored WWII plane takes flight
      Restored WWII plane takes flight Franklin resident Steve Hager on Jan. 16 caused a disruption at work when he saw a World War II plane fly overhead. He herded co-workers from the downtown Franklin Habitat for Humanity ReStore outside to catch a glimpse of the Stinson OY-1 Sentinel making its debut flight after a nearly 10-year restoration. Hager was among members of the Commemorative Air…
    • Floral tribute stolen from Lochaber Commando Memorial
      Floral tribute stolen from Lochaber Commando Memorial A floral tribute has been stolen from a military memorial in Lochaber. The Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge is dedicated to those who trained in the area during World War II.
    • Auction of World War II items to help cover Kruse debt
      Auction of World War II items to help cover Kruse debt Above: A 1935 Renault UE Full-Track Armored Carrier is among the military vehicles and WWII memorabilia to be auctioned off Saturday World War II memorabilia collectors, tell your family and friends that this weekend offers a golden opportunity to find your Christmas present On Saturday, Auctions American by RM will auction off more than 80 World War II-vintage military vehicles…
    • John O'Groats beaches lost to war effort to be recalled
      John O'Groats beaches lost to war effort to be recalled A new arts project will celebrate John O'Groats beaches that lost their white sands to the Dig for Victory campaign during World War II. The sand was prized as a soil improver due to the large volume of empty and broken shells it contained. With food rationed, Dig for Victory encouraged people to grow vegetables in their gardens and allotments…