Spitting Distance of History

Thawing Western relations with Myanmar’s government may unearth a squadron of Spitfire fighters buried by British forces at the end of World War II. Just several weeks before Japan surrendered in early September 1945, British troops entombed as many as 20 Spitfire Mk. XIVs—a rare variant powered by Rolls Royce Griffon engines—in their original weatherproof packing to prevent them from falling into Japanese hands in case Japan tried to re-occupy then-Burma. “We sent a borehole down and used a camera to look at the crates. They seemed to be in good condition,” said David Cundall, the British farmer leading the recovery effort, reported Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. Cundall has said he located the aircraft based on a veteran’s offhand remark years ago. During his official visit to Myanmar on April 13, British Prime Minister David Cameron secured Cundall’s right to recover the trove from the Myanmar government, reported the UK Guardian. Only 35 Spitfires of any type still fly today, according to the press reports.