A tank from the Second World War has been excavated in England after 74 years underground.
The Buffalo LVT was one of two wartime vehicles that sank after being washed away during the construction of a dam in Lincolnshire in 1947.
Lightly armoured amphibious landing craft, Buffalo LVTs (Landing Vehicles Tracked), were used by the Allies in the crossing of the Rhine and Elbe rivers in March 1945.
Two years later, several were employed to shore up flood defences after the River Welland flooded near the town of Crowland near Peterborough.
The recovery project was led by local farmer Daniel Abbott, who for three years conducted research and carried out exploratory work to confirm the vehicle’s location in a fishing pit.
In collaboration with North Level Internal Drainage Board (NLIDB), Crowland Cranes, and Tear’s Recovery, Daniel and 50 volunteers located the tank in April this year, and subsequently excavated it.
Although buried 9 metres below the surface, the tank is in good condition due to the clay in which it was buried, some 4,500 tons of which were removed during the five-day operation.
‘I couldn’t believe it,’ said Abbott. ‘It was very emotional. I was nervous all day. This has all been a big part of my life.’
Works supervisor Nick Day added: ‘As the flood defence authority, we held an interest and were happy to volunteer our machinery. Ground scans had been carried out, but there was the possibility it could have been just a cattle trough there. But our hopes were raised when we smelt fuel in the groundwater.’
‘When the Buffalo broke free of the suction and started to move up and out, it was a great moment,’ Day said.
The second tank is yet to be located, but Abbott has said he hopes to do so soon. In the meantime, however, his focus is on restoring the recovered Buffalo LVT and finding a home for it in a local museum.