Spitfires buried in Burma during war to be returned to UK

 A Spitfire flying from RAF Manston Photo: © Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

A Spitfire flying from RAF Manston Photo: © Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

By , and Rowena Mason:- More Here

The Prime Minister secured a historic deal that will see the fighter aircraft dug up and shipped back to the UK almost 67 years after they were hidden more than 40-feet below ground amid fears of a Japanese occupation.

The gesture came as Mr Cameron became the first Western leader to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy campaigner held under house arrest for 22 years by the military regime, and invited her to visit London in her first trip abroad for 24 years.

He called on Europe to suspend its ban on trade with Burma now that it was showing “prospects for change” following Miss Suu Kyi’s election to parliament in a sweeping electoral victory earlier this year.

The plight of the buried aircraft came to Mr Cameron’s attention at the behest of a farmer from Scunthorpe, North Lincs, who is responsible for locating them at a former RAF base using radar imaging technology.

David Cundall, 62, spent 15 years doggedly searching for the planes, an exercise that involved 12 trips to Burma and cost him more than £130,000.

When he finally managed to locate them in February, he was told Mr Cameron “loved” the project and would intervene to secure their repatriation.

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 beautiful aeroplanes and should not be rotting away in a foreign land. They saved our neck in the Battle of Britain and they should be preserved.”

He said the Spitfires, of which there are only around 35 flying left in the world, were shipped to Burma and then transported by rail to the British RAF base during the war.

However, advances in technology and the emergence of more agile jets meant they were never used and officials abandoned them shortly before the end of the conflict.

“They were just buried there in transport crates,” Mr Cundall said. “They were waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred. They will be in near perfect condition.”

The married father of three, an avid plane enthusiast, embarked on his voyage of discovery in 1996 after being told of their existence by a friend who had met some American veterans who described digging a trench for the aircraft during the Allied withdrawal of Burma.

He spent years appealing for information on their whereabouts from eye witnesses, scouring public records and placing advertisements in specialist magazines.

Several early trips to Burma were unsuccessful and were hampered by the political climate.


MORE Here on the Telegraph website!



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