Monday, 17 June 2013



Since we last blogged about Digging Dad's Army members of the Team have been involved in a number of Projects in Britain and abroad.

In January 2013 Andy Brockman and Rod Scott went to Myanmar/Burma as part of the Burma Spitfires Project, sponsored by the international online wargaming company, with Andy as Lead Archaeologist and Rod as Field Archaeologist and Historic Ammunition Specialist.
Defended Barracks on the main road into Yangon [Rangoon]
[Copyright:  Andy Brockman]

In a story which attracted worldwide attention the team, which also included Principal Field Archaeologist Martin Brown of the Plugstreet Project and Geophysicists, Dr Roger Clarke and Andy Merritt of Leeds University and Dr Adam Booth of Imperial College,  were able to use field archaeology on former RAF Mingaladon, now Yangon International Airport, to corroborate their conclusions based on detailed work in the archives, that the story that up to 36 Spitfire aircraft were buried in Burma [now Myanmar] at the end of World War Two is nothing more than a captivating urban myth.

                                    Andy Merritt and Dr Adam Booth at Yangon International Airport
                                                                                [Copyright:  Andy Brockman]

This expedition was the first time where the common myth of buried iconic objects, such as the Spitfires, has been examined scientifically.

If you want to hear the story from the team themselves there is a free presentation at the RAF Museum Hendon on Wednesday 19 June at 7.30pm

Sign up for tickets for the Hendon Presentation here

The presentation will also be made available on line the next day for people who cannot get to Hendon on the night.

A surviving Pill Box at Sarre 
[Copyright:  Andy Brockman]

Andy and Rod have also been working with Dr Paul Cuming of Kent County Council Heritage Group and Sian Edwards of Sussex University on a community history project centered on the village of Sarre in East Kent.

The village was identified of being of major importance by the Defence of Britain Project and Sian was given funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to undertake a pilot study to look at the feasibility of  undertaking a wider project in the Sarre area.

One immediate benefit of the programme is a self guide leaflet enabling visitors to explore for themselves the defences of Sarre starting and ending at the village pub!  The leaflet is being launched in September.

We also spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Years 5 and 6 at Monkton Primary School where we talked about how World War Two would have impacted on the lives of their predecessors and they shared with us the work they have already done on Monkton in WOrld War Two,  including showing us a Police report regarding an air raid on Manston Airfield on 14 August 1940 which killed two residents of Sarre and damaged the school.

The report was not available anywhere else and the school had a copy thanks to its place as a focus for local families over many years as it was donated by the family of the Police Sergeant who wrote it and who were connected to the school.  Yet more proof, as if it were needed, of the importance of looking not just in the formal documentary and media archives, but in those priceless archives which exist in the community.

The team are now making plans to take the work on and undertake a more detailed study.


Thanks to the discovery of a Foreign Office document in the National Archive at Kew by our friends at SE9 Magazine DDA are able to undertake a detailed community based study of the Prisoner of War Camp, Working Camp 1020 which took over the site of the disused ZAA Rocket Battery on Shooters Hill Golf Course in 1946.

In addition to details about "Denazification" the document give the names and places of origin of a number of the leading prisoners in the camp and, thanks to this,  it is hoped that we will be able to look at the lives and attitudes of some of the former prisoners alongside the study of the place of the camp and its guards and prisoners in the lives of the community of Shooters Hill and Welling.

The project is being undertaken in collaboration with post GCSE Students at Colfe's School in Lewisham and runs through the Summer.