After 77 years of farming and draining the airfield, Peter Kindred was amazed to find so much ordnance still needed to be removed before the construction of a solar park could begin:
“The initial survey comprised a test run with a metal detecting boom on a low ground pressure vehicle which plotted over 2000 positive readings by GPS on the map. Each of these were then excavated using metal detectors to direct the digging operation. It involved two hydraulic diggers and a team of sorters to examine the findings at each site.”
“It is not surprising that no unexploded bombs were detected but, interestingly, as well as broken bits of farm equipment, on many sites large collections of small aircraft parts were discovered. They also found live 50 calibre bullets along with flare carcases, the hinges from the ammunition boxes and many empty shells. The live bullets were taken away for safe detonation but we are looking into selling some of the empty shells (right of photo) later in the year– keep an eye out in our shop and on our eBay store if you would like to own your own piece of 390th Bomb Group history.”
“It seems that pits were dug beside the hardstands where the B-17s were parked and repaired, so that small pieces of wreckage and shells could be easily discarded. These pits gave us an interesting glimpse into activities on the base. We found lots of small pieces of aircraft aluminium, broken pipes, small accumulator type batteries and even an engine cylinder valve complete with its coil spring attached.”
“Larger items buried included two old lorry tyres and a tangled section of heavy-duty security fencing. Regrettably, no major parts from a B-17 aircraft were found. That site, where many large pieces of equipment were buried after the war, is not available for excavation; it sits under a conservation pine tree plantation on our neighbour’s part of the airfield and its treasures will remain hidden.”
For more information about Parham Airfield Museum, please visit their website.