While the recent news about Canadian Avro Arrow models (testers) has long been suspected (or known by the fans – me, included), news about Spitfires buried in Burma and now Birmingham, UK boggles my mind.
But, new evidence – IE eyewitness reports about the UK burials – is coming to light, after Matt McQueenan, 83, says he helped pack them back in 1950 under orders from the British War Office – but he says he doesn’t know the exact burial place, as he wasn’t directly involved in that.
McQueenan says that he and other workers greased up the Spitfires, encased them in crates with others burying them in the ground – where houses have now been built over them. And, he believes they could still be there.
McQueenan says he was prompted to speak out after rumors about the other Spitfire aircraft where thought to have been buried in the jungles of Burma.
According to McQueenan, the work was done on behalf of Harry Bramwell of the War Office, crating the planes in a Castle Bromwell hangar near where the Spitefires were manufactured.
Says Queenan, “It was December (1950). We got picked up by Harry Bramwell from outside the Labour Exchange in the city center.
“We covered the planes in grease and they were boxed up. We were told they were going to be buried. I think they were buried nearby, close to the Chester Road, but I don’t know where. There could be houses over them or anything now because it was all fields in them days.”
Pioneers of Aviation Ed. Note: There was a Harry Bramwell born in 1898 in Birmingham, England. If someone is in charge of burying planes for the War Office, the age might match his position within the government. Of course, that is only assuming it is the same Bromwell, and that he lived in Birmingham all his life up until 1950.
Backing up the claims of McQueenan is Kenneth Mills, 74, who says he stood and watched the crates containing Spitfire engines being buried in an area close to the Castle Bromwich factory where the planes were built.
Mills says that as a boy he would often take his dad’s pigeons close to the Spitfire factory in Castle Bromwich – and it was there that he saw truck loads of boxes being buried.
“There was a huge concrete ramp and the wagons would come out of the factory, drive straight down and drop off the boxes,” notes Mills. “There was a big concrete block down there.
“I was told they were Spitfire engines which weren’t needed. There were loads of them. People think I am pulling their leg when I tell them but, honestly, they are down there,” adds Mills. “I’ve never seen that land dug up or disturbed, so they are probably still in place, about 20ft down, I reckon.”
A third person, Herrick Lucas, 82, says an old neighbor had once told him the planes were buried where Kingsbury Road meets Chester Road, on the Castle Bromwich and Erdington border in 1950.
According to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum in London, these stories might be true. “It is possible, but we just do not know,” says a spokesperson. “Many of them would have been disposed of in the local area through scrap yards. The RAF didn’t keep records once they had been handed over to someone else to take care of.
“It’s unlikely, but it could have happened.”
But not according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence, as a spokesperson there simply states: “It is highly improbable Spitfires were buried in Birmingham in the 1950s. We have no evidence of it.”
Well, if it is evidence one is looking for, Stratascan, an underground surveying company says that if someone wants to pony up the money -£800 (~US/Cdn $1,300) – it will conduct scans of the proposed areas.
Stratascan was recently in the news after it helped find what is thought to be the remains of King Richard III.
Stratascan director Peter Barker explains: “We would most likely use a device called a magnetometer – it can detect metal down to a depth of a few meters.
“If you have lots of plane engines this should show up pretty easily,” Barker says. “We can do it, provided someone pays us to.”