Play / pause The Spitfire Dig

The Spitfire Dig

  • Jonny McNee
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


We knew that in

in the Irish Army records

a few meters into the bog

But because it was the wettest November

like every November in Ireland's the wettest on

all they knew they were going to drown

So it meant then that we knew

we were likely

and the the harnesses

that we were on our A-game

of archeological experience

and all the bagging

Paperwork might be in there

because we knew that

and that the state of preservation

And then we sort of did

where there's going to be bullets, right?

Well, we're going to need

to have the army bomb squad

that's likely to be lotions, potions

And we'll need to cater for that either

when we travel.

So it really set then

being a bit of an Airfix Spitfire

I suddenly needed to know every

Everything that could be

then been able to

We got our detection equipment.

We went out to the spot

and we were able to produce

a complete Spitfire, buried 33 ft

From the scan

we could see that there was

Ultimately 33 ft.

There was a peat surface

and then a sort of a....

Ten foot column of compacted Spitfire

and then a big brute down at the bottom,

the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine,

we could see six javelin like objects

spike down on various depths

If I just use this...

But we could see that the and

the spikes that were on this side

we're down deeper than the ones in

if the plane has gone in, it's gone in

And as a result, that wing has struck

all its machine guns

So we carefully scraped back

that the outermost Spitfire machine

so we knew that we were dealing with six.

And sure enough,

So we dug left and right

Browning machine guns

The deal was the guns

they were

there to and they just decommissioned

We're going to take them away, clean them

and then I would collect them

myself and Captain Lamb who headed a team

There's a bit of a barrel,

You know, there's something

The first machine gun camera

We all thought, Wow.

This... and for a minute,

this looks like the sort of thing

and we all got a wee bit more worried, like

But the dates were clearly on them

And they all come out

and there's like 300 people

You're watching this.

The army were bringing them out and showing

and the dads are standing with their sons

So it was a great learning day

and then we got the magazines

Now the port ones

as we got to the outermost guns on the wings

We were lifting the intire magazines out

all snaked up in the air and the box,

This is going to be something special.

You don't you don't see that

this is going to be a true time

If the Earth just

you and just pulled it down

  • A piece of the Gleneely Spitfire

    © RAF Museum

  • The dig

    © RAF Museum

  • Favourite

    You have to be logged in to use favourites.

  • Report

Back to search results

More RAF Stories

Please note our website uses cookies to improve your experience. I understand. For more information see Privacy Notice & Cookies