Friday, 19 October 2012

Those Magnificent Brits And Their Flying Machines

Every now and then, you come across a story that makes you go, "WOW!"

World War II has always had a romantic appeal (now that we have collectively (and selectively) forgotten its horror), and this story rates highly on the goose-bump scale.

So many of my generation have grown up reading about the Spitfires and Hurricanes that saved Britain in 1940.

One of the few to whom so much was owed by so many...

It says something when Spitfires are romanticised in German

For Indians, World War II had a much closer front line - Burma. A distant relative of mine was reported to have walked back to India from Burma when the Japanese succeeded in invading that country.

Like the inexorable plot of a romantic novel that finally brings its protagonists together, the media this week carried news of the rediscovery of a buried squadron of Spitfires in the Burmese jungles.

The Mark XIV Spitfires were manufactured at Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands and transported to Burma, where they remained unused by the time of the Japanese surrender in August 1945.

They were deemed too expensive to bring home, but rather than leave them intact in an unstable country, the decision was made to bury them in their transportation crates - carefully greased and tarred and wrapped in greaseproof paper to preserve them (italics mine).

I have that "Awww" feeling that I get when I see children putting away their toys without being told. Oh, those super, smashing Brits! What they did there was ripping, absolutely topping, I say!

Now twenty-plus of those aircraft, in near-perfect condition after almost 70 years under the ground, will be shipped back to England, re-rivetted and will fly again as part of air shows.

From time to time, we catch a glimpse of the character that enabled the Brits to rule half the world...

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