Is there a squadron of Spitfires buried in Birmingham?


Matt Queenan, 83, believes there could be well-preserved Spitfires lying in crates dug deep into the ground, potentially underneath houses.

He claims he is one of a team of workmen who buried them in 1950, greasing them up and encasing them in boxes under instructions from the War Office.

He has now spoken of the secret mission for the first time in public, after 36 of the iconic planes were found in Burma. The aircraft, discovered by aviation enthusiast David Cundall, are expected to soon be repatriated 67 years after being “lost”.

One of the Spitfires is due to go on display in Birmingham shortly.

Mr Queenan, a former bareknuckle boxer, said: “You don’t need to go all the way to Burma to find Spitfires. There are plenty buried here in Birmingham.”

He claims the operation was carried out in a hangar in Castle Bromwich, near to where the aircraft were built during the Second World War.

After being told to bury them by War Office official Harry Bramwell, the labourers “covered them in greased” before they were “boxed up”, he alleges.

A spokesman for the RAF museum conceded the claims could not be ruled out, while the Ministry of Defence said it was “highly improbable”.

Mr Queenan said: “It was December. We got picked up by Harry Bramwell from outside the Labour Exchange in the city centre.

“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.”

A spokeswoman for the RAF Museum, in London, said Mr Queenan’s claims could not be ruled out.

“It is possible, but we just do not know,” she said. “Many of them would have been disposed of in the local area through scrapyards. 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.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “It is highly improbable Spitfires were buried in Birmingham in the 1950s. We have no evidence of it.”

Earlier this year, 62-year-old David Cundall found 36 Spitfires in Burma, after spending 15 years and more than £10,000 searching.

“They were just buried there in transport crates,” Mr Cundall said. “They were waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred. They will be in near perfect condition.”

The aircraft will be returned to Britain after Prime Minister David Cameron intervened in favour of their repatriation.