View Full Version : Colerne Airfield

20th Jan 2002, 02:06
Anyone know any more about buried WWII aircraft at Colerne Airfield Wilts? The Signals Regt stationed there gives out a booklet claiming that. I would like to get Channel 4's Time Team along there to dig em up!

Also the booklet claims a Hercules was lost in the woods alongside and that the crater is still visible. I flew over a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't see it - just curious if anyone knows more?

Spiney Norman
20th Jan 2002, 03:30
That's interesting. I posted a message some weeks ago about this. I had an instructor at the old Bailbrook College, (now closed), who had been an instructor at Colerne in 1945 and he told me he had seen a number of Miles Master aircraft taxied into a pit which had been dug on the airfield and then buried. Sorry! I know no more. Can't even remember the chaps name as it was some time ago! But you may be interested to hear this 'rumour' from another source. I should be very surprised if there's anything left worth digging up after this time and the weight of the soil etc.


20th Jan 2002, 10:26
I think that the C130 crashed just off the eastern end of the runway in to the trees on the other side of the road. It has been many years since I was back there and the roads have changed.

20th Jan 2002, 17:30
Thanks for the replies chaps. Interesting indeed!
from the Azimghur Barracks guide pamphlet:
"lots of aircraft were simply dumped in the ground where the Poplar way perimeter fence now stands"
Could be the Miles aircraft you refer to???

I must go back and have a poke around!!
Anyone have access to geophysics eqpt?

[ 20 January 2002: Message edited by: AirScream ]</p>

21st Jan 2002, 13:07
Air Scream,. .Would that cover pick and shovel, or something more teccie,........ like a JCB? :)

21st Jan 2002, 16:13
It was always rumoured the Colerne had something to do with the bunker at Rudloe Manor where the Prime Minister and HMQ would be moved to in the event of war.

Additionally there was something about it being part of the satellite network for the RAF - this bit I can't work out, cos there's no satellites there....

Still, Big Brother's watching you!!

Capt Squat-thrust
25th Jan 2002, 23:37
There is a huge Dish in the middle of the airfield and this must have something to do with Colerne being the main communications link to Germany for the MOD (supposed to be???!!!). The buried aircraft rumour could be true as Colerne housed at least 3 MUs at the end of WW2 (32 MU, 49 MU being two of them), there were aircraft dispersal areas in and around the land outside the boundary of the airfield itself countaining dozens of aircraft of various types.. .A C130 did crash, 10.9.73, a 48 SQR C1 crashed 50 yards behind the MQs and the station church in to Hazel copice. It was carrying out co-pilot training details, when it was overshooting from RW 07 with a simulated engine failure when the other engine on that side failed. At that height (400ft) and speed involved, the asymetric forces proved too much for the crew to contol and the Herc dived into the ground. The Captain was S/Ldr Tony Barrett, and all 5 crew sadly died.. .From the ATC tower you can see the difference in size and colour to the surrounding trees to the crash site trees, but the crash site itself I have not ventured as its either on Lucknam Parks land or that newly restored house next to it with a big 'Private property' sign up front.

26th Jan 2002, 00:58
Thanks Cap'n ST

That all makes sense. I am back that way soon -will take a look.

26th Jan 2002, 03:49
Ah - so my insertion that there were no satellite dishes was, ever so completely, incorrect!

You live and learn.

<img src="tongue.gif" border="0">

This might be of interest to you though:. .<a href="http://www.multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?client=europe&scale=25000&X=381000&Y=171500&width=700&height=410&gride=0&gridn=0" target="_blank">http://www.multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?client=europe&scale=25000&X=381000&Y=171500&width=700&height=410&gride=0&gridn=0</a>

[ 25 January 2002: Message edited by: Daifly ]</p>

Edit: Lot of HTML but nothing else - try doing it again because it ain't working!

Capt Squat-thrust
26th Jan 2002, 18:12
Daifly - cracking air photo, also that dish thingy has only been there for a relatively short time.. .Airscream, for the record there has been some other crashes in and around Colerne airfield i.e.. .22.1.42 Mosquito from 264 Sqr crashed 1nm NW of the airfield.. .24.1.45 Meteor ee344 of 74 Sqr crashed in to Black Cross wood, which is just a few hundred yards SE of the airfield across from Hunters Hall, the Squadron were demonstrating to the press low level formation aerobatics, unfortunately the leader did not make enough allowance for the unfortunate F/sgt Rees flying on the edge of the formation!.. .Two Bristol Brigands also crashed one on 23.2.53 2 nm S of the airfield opposite to Cheney Court farm and the other on finals to RW 25, 8.3.56.. .In addition to these I know of 2 Defiants, a Hurricane, a Havoc, a wellington another Mossie and a Hastings accident within a few nm radius of Colerne. Goes to show what a busy and important airfield it was in its hayday!.. .PS any luck with your research send us a message.

26th Jan 2002, 21:59
Thanks again Captain,. .Strike a light! Colerne is a black spot - or perhaps all WWII airfields suffer from the same sad history?

Where are you getting all this information? When the rain stops (July?) I might go for a stroll over that way, OS map in hand.

As far as reearching the buried aircraft I am unsure how to proceed practically! I suppose I could round up a few more pieces of anecdotal eveidence but better would be to get hold of some of the geophysics equipment (ground radar - vfrpilotpb!) that they use on the excellent TimeTeam programme - oh yes and the team that operate it! I think that some of the TimeTeam are based in Bristol and that's only 25 mins from Colerne, hmmmmmm..................

[ 26 January 2002: Message edited by: AirScream ]</p>

27th Jan 2002, 01:08
A further Brigand crash occurred in May 1952. The aircraft was carrying a French airforce Navigator, pilot and instructor. My father was the instructor. On finals the pilot activated the engine fire extinguishers which were designed to fire automatically in the case of an impact. Both extinguishers fired on activation, both engines stopped and the aircraft fell from about 250 feet. Luckily no one was seriously hurt. I have a couple of pieces of one of the propellor's.

As for the other Brigand crashes the one in '52 resulted in fatalities to all on board whilst the one in '56 killed the pilot and Navigator but 2 Fleet Air Arm student's in the back survived.

. .On a slightly different topic concerning Colerne, when the resident night fighter units withdrew and moved to Leeming some time in the 50's the departing crews spent the last few days visiting various hostelries in the surrounding area and Bath. They told anyone who was interested that they were the new Transport Command crews just arrived. Such was the level of behaviour that when the real Transport Command crews arrived a few days later they, somewhat to their surprise, found themselves barred from most of said establishments.

Capt Squat-thrust
27th Jan 2002, 01:28
To be honest Airscream, I was in the process of writing a book on RAF Colerne (honest!), but my long and thankless pursuit of my ATPL has interrupted my research. Maybe one day I'll finish it (the book and ATPL), the information comes from various sources, a request in Flypast magazine a few years ago gave me stacks of feedback from ex-RAF guys, a few trips to the PRO at Kew London to read the old Station WW2 ORBs. And Colin Cummings series on RAF accident books was a huge source of info etc etc. The funny thing is that I have never had a PROPER visit around the actual base itself! plenty of times passed it, and over it. I did fly in there once in 1993 when I just got my PPL, but I was driven from my C152 to the ATC tower charged a F**** off huge landing fee and driven back to the aircraft! alas no tour. Any one in a position to give any visits send me an Email!!!!!

[ 26 January 2002: Message edited by: Capt Squat-thrust ]

[ 26 January 2002: Message edited by: Capt Squat-thrust ]</p>

27th Jan 2002, 16:46
Cap'n - email me - [email protected] .you have no email in your profile

8th May 2006, 14:21
I lived in Colerne in 1973 & witnessed the C130 that crashed at the end of the runway - I remember it well. It was doing bump & restarts between Colerne, Brize & Lyneham when it dropped off a couple of Air dispachers before doing a circuit & then comming to grief in the woods by Lucknham park. Made a hell of a bang! The crew had no chance. My Father (who was in the RAF at the time) was one of the first on the scene. He was shocked for a long time afterwards.

8th May 2006, 14:30
I lived in Colerne between 1970 & 1974 & again when I served there in the Army between 1988 & 1991. I don't recall any stories about buried aircraft & I knew the place very well. I'm not saying they don't exsist but they must be well hidden!! There was an old Hastings at the top end of the airfield that the fire crash teams used to practice on. In 1988 the place was nearly wrecked by the terrible storms that swept across the SW. Lovely place to live & grow up but it is looking a tad worn out now.

8th May 2006, 17:16
Capt Squat-thrust:

Can you tell me if F/O Plumtree was one of the co-pilots killed on the C-130 (XV198) disaster? I knew his father and I'm not sure if he was on that one or the C-130 (XV180) that went in in similar circumstances at Fairford in 1969.

hooter 2
11th Jun 2006, 18:39
Hello people-
I was tralling the web trying to find out information on the above and i saw your thread.
My beloved father was the investigating officer for Meteor EE344-a week before he died he told me the story of flight lieutenant banjee in his meteor-
I am trying to find out the station commanders name and the squadron leader of 74(if thats correct-and I havent given myself a bum steer)squadron-
I discovered a draft report for banjee in my fathers pilots' log-he was a mosquito intruder pilot
Any names, places, extra information would be really welcome

My aim is to tell my fathers story for his great grandchildren, eventually-none of us children knew him until after his flying days-to let them know something of the measure of the man they missed

Lou Scannon
11th Jun 2006, 20:20
I was at RAF Colerne in the mid-sixties and started the Museum there that was broken up when the Station closed. I heard many stories about aircraft that had been based on the Station,especially the brand new Avro Lincolns that were delivered from the factory, air tested and then taken to the North end of the short runway to be broken up for scrap.

I spent hours talking to the locals and never heard one word about any aircraft that were buried there. Had I done so I would have been the first to borrow a JCB and start looking. Just remember, in the sixties we still had a lot of locals working on the base who could remember the war and would have known about such a thing.

I heard rumours of Sptifires still being in the hangars at Charmy Down (not true) and another that there was a Hurricane and a Mosquito in one of the hangars at Hullavington (absolutely true).

But that is another story!

11th Jun 2006, 20:51
I did a lot of voluntary work at the museum between 72 - 75, including the major refurbishment of the Spit V and Heinkel 162. Anyone remember Cpl Bertie Coombes, Chief Tech Jeff Richardson and Sgt Wally Hooper?

Regarding buried bits, I was employed as an MoD guard for a while in 1977 while contractors were carrying out conversion work prior to the Army taking over. Opposite the NAAFI shop and just to the right of the Post Office, there was a fairly large grass area buffering the AMQ (I forget the name but Poplar Way does ring a bell as being adjacent). A JCB was digging a trench and unearthed a corroded main landing gear which looked to belong to a Curtiss P40, judging by the bevel gear at the top of the leg. There was no evidence of crash damage as the assembly had clearly been unbolted from the wing structure. So, there might well be more parts buried in that area.

I don't recall a Hastings being on the fire dump but there was the forward fuselage of a Shack. I witnessed the tragic XV198 accident in '73 and still have the Air Clues magazine relating to it.

12th Jun 2006, 08:02
Don't know about buried aircraft but it was an MU so anything's possible; there is definitely some sort of underground bunker under the airfield though; I saw it marked on the airfield crash map in '88 when I was at Rudloe for ATC camp; it was somewhere near the threshold of runway 25.

Lou Scannon
12th Jun 2006, 12:22
I spent four years of my life living around the threshold of runway25 and never saw or heard of any bunker. One of our Flight Engineers "Whampo" Warton frequently patrolled the area collecting dandelion flowers for his illicit still in the engineers section and reported nothing. Had there been one there and it had been blocked off there would be no need to include it on the crash maps. I think you probably mistook some other marking for an underground facility.

I really hate to be a cold blanket on the exciting subject (to me) of buried aircraft (There is a similar thread about Kenley running) but two factors are against the possibility.

Firstly any scrap metal was so valuable in the immediate post war years that it could be sold...and was.

Secondly if there was a quarry right next to the airfield it would have been easy to drop aircraft in to it. As there isn't you have to consider how difficult it would have been to dig a hole big enough for one small fighter aircraft let alone one big enough for a Lincoln as has been suggested at Kenley.

...but I would love to be proved wrong!

12th Jun 2006, 13:04
I was visiting Colerne recently and found what we suspect to be a bunker in the gardens of an MQ - Nothing too surprising there.

A local reckons there are engines in crates underground near the NAAFI???

We need some ground radar.

12th Jun 2006, 13:13
The crash map definitely had the caption 'Nuclear Bunker'. It was near the 25 threshold just west of the apron there.

Lou Scannon
13th Jun 2006, 19:38
The Nuclear Bunker may have been installed by the new owners, the Army.

Just to "Belay that last pipe" as they say in the Navy.
I was talking to an old friend last night about this "buried aircraft" nonsense and he told me that as a kid he used to play on a Lanc that had crashed at Kenley. He believes that it was buried along with a spit.

If anyone wants to contact him PM me.

14th Jun 2006, 18:30

F/O Plumtree was involved in the 1969 C130 crash at Fairford, he is buried in South Cerney Churchyard along with a number of his crew mates.

hooter 2

8.3.46 F/O Bamjee (RIAF) crashed Metoer EE344, he hit trees (I did read he was beating up a train) and crashed in a field near Langley Burrell, 2 miles from Chippenham, sadly he was killed. I will try to find out who the station commander & CO of 74 Squadron at that time. Would very much like to hear more about this accident and your Father.

14th Jun 2006, 19:37
Many thanks for that; it is much appreciated. His father was AVM Eric Plumtree DFC who survived a tour on Blenheim IVs with 53 Squadron during which he survived a particularly vicious attack by three Bf 110s.

He still had lumps of Oerliken cannon shell floating around in his head when I first met him 20 years ago.

It always seemed to me particularly ironic that his son should be killed in peacetime on a training flight.

5th Jul 2006, 19:49
I have been reading the postings on this forum site with interest and glad to see it is still active.
I have lived in the village since 1958 when my father moved here and bought a shop in the high street called "THE STORES" which was opposite the paper shop and post office, maybe some of you will remember it?
Although I have lived here nearly 50 years I am still an outsider to those that were born here and still remember the post war era were all the rumors of buried aircraft started.
You can still get the statement from some of the Yokels! sorry locals if you mention "Spitfires" and the "Camp" in one sentence you will get the rumor of the Spitfires buried on there, raped in brown greased paper in packing crates that were never assembled, but just buried in a hole in the ground.

2 years ago I started out to confirm or disprove this rumor and I am now near to publishing my findings but am still eager to here of more first hand information to that era before I finish

I thought I had lost a lot of my research when my computer crashed and had to be replaced but I have just recently retrieved it and will now start to bring all the threads together and will keep you all informed of the outcome

As I read some of the posting it is apparent that many of you have served at RAF Colerne and if there is any way I can be of help to you in answering questions feel free to ask, there is a new history book on the village that has a good account of the camps history from the war years right through to its present day(over a hundred pages), these are available from the local shops and the history group cost is 6-75 plus postage and if you are interested in a copy I would be pleased to help

As a final note, I can remember going down to Black Cross wood as a kid and retrieving small parts from that plane that crashed there
and here is the sites to see the camp as it is now


scroll down this site for the pictures


6th Jul 2006, 13:56
Perhaps worth putting in the picture is the fact that large numbers of Spitfires, and presumably other aircraft, were collected at Colerne and smelted into aluminium ingots on site by John Dale Ltd who recruited some labour locally.

Photographs exist of the line ups in 1948 and indeed one of the aircraft P7350, now BBMF, was saved just in time over a drink in the bar with the John Dale manager and that was because it was an early model and looked interesting.

The P-40 leg with no aluminium attached sounds like it could be steel residue post smelting.


henry crun
6th Jul 2006, 22:18
Mark22: You make a very valid point.

All the stories about aircraft being buried do not match with what happened in the post war years.
Britain was desperately short of almost every type of raw material, particularly metals.

I find it hard to believe the government would sanction burying aircraft when some money could be realised on their scrap value, which would also reduce the need to pay for imported metals when the country was almost bankrupt.

1st Aug 2006, 02:06
Not purely related to aviation, but I understand that the area immediately adjacent to RAF Colerne is, like others in the area, an underground facility of a size of a small city. There is a maze of corridors, and its own disguised railway system which enters the facility through steel doors. I also understand that anyone stopping on the adjacent lanes for a look round will soon be moved on by Mod police, or a security firm. I cannot verify this; my only experience is of having been on an official visit to another location in that area, over 40 years ago. What an experience! Almost anything could be stored in such places...and probably was.

1st Aug 2006, 07:59
.....the area you refer to is the RAF Rudloe Manor/Copenacre/Leafield complex.
Various websites tell various stories of what went on/goes on there...........
Must confess of my 6 years of being underground I have appeared to miss most of the `alleged` goings on

Lou Scannon
1st Aug 2006, 11:30
In 1964 I was based at RAF Colerne and lived at RAF Rudloe Manor, in one of the sub-standard married quarters (ie Nissen Hut) that surrounded the Manor itself. We knew of the underground communications facility that existed and people would mention that they worked "Down the hole". I survived one winter by burning the old linoleum flooring that was being renewed. As it was brought up it was dumped in the field next to my hut and I would chop it into squares that would fit the lone fireplace. One minute we would be pinned against the walls by the heat, the next huddled in front of the embers. As we said at the time, why live in a civilian slum for 24 per month when you can live in an RAF one for only 12.

I only found out the extent of the underground system when I went round it as a tourist years later. It contained an underground munitions store, a "secret" railway station hidden in the Box railway tunnel, its own generating system and miles of tunnels.

One rumour was that it was to hold all the countries art treasures during the war, but that seems a curious mix with the thousands of tons of HE.

Conan the Librarian
1st Aug 2006, 12:12
If you go to the BBC website and do a search for "Burlington" then there might still be a guided picture tour avalable.


edited, as Muggins found a few spare minutes for a spot of Googling. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/underground_city/index.shtml

1st Aug 2006, 21:43
I was at Colerne between 72-76 and remember an old MPBW worker (Ernie, with glasses as thick as TWO beer bottle bottoms) telling me about the Box tunnels. I wish I could remember more; he was an interesting character with many tales.

1st Aug 2006, 22:14
If you go to the BBC website and do a search for "Burlington" then there might still be a guided picture tour avalable.

ConanTry http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/articles/2005/12/14/burlington_nuclear_bunker_feature.shtml

3rd Nov 2006, 19:22
My father was one of the aircrew who lost their lives in the Herc crash in September 1973.

This aircraft went down just after takeoff due to a double engine failure on the same side, and crashed in the wooded area just outside the then RAF Colerne airfield with the loss of the entire crew.

Let me know via the forum if you need more info.


13th Feb 2008, 07:13
I was 10 in 1973 - I lived on the camp at RAF Colerne -I spent much of my time watching all the commings and goings on the site as it fascinated me especially the aircraft - I watched in 1973 a C130 from my school playing fields at the end of the runway - I saw it climb, very low (even lower than usual) the sound from the engines was differant - when the plane was directly in front of me it was low enough for me to see the pilot on the right hand side of the aircraft - it banked severely left and went down - the boom and resulting smoke was very shocking to me as a 10 year old....indeed many children spent the rest of the day in shock fearing that their fathers were aboard -
I saw many other ODD? events between the years I lived on the base - 1969 to Jan 1974.
I spent most of my time playing on and around the airfield with my friends- climbing the hangers and trying to open strange doors that seemed to lead underground - ones i had seen opened before when unusual people (in CIVIES) went in and out?
We (the RAF) entertained on the base on a very frequent occurance high level officials from ALL the services and indeed some that seemed to represent them but not actually be them - i.e in suites.

Does anyone out their have any questions I may be able to answer about things on the base - or indeed does anyone remember my father or know of him.....

He was always well known and liked - Flt Sgt (SCOTTIE) Scott
Always Scottie to his friends and everyone....

9th Jun 2010, 18:47
i was posting as hooter2, but hey ho!
Since i have found five pictures in my fathers things of that crash if anyone is interested.
I think the squadron leader was cook, and the group captain was e m donaldson, later avm? speed records?
My father told me what really happened, and since he was dying it didnt matter what he had done, to clear both men and not wreck their careers. he wrote the accident up as suicide i beleive

14th Jun 2010, 19:22
Hooter 3

I would be interested in learning about what your father found out about P/O Bamjee's accident, I've read a couple of accounts on this crash and would be keen to know more.

Pm if it's more convenient.

Amos Keeto
16th Jun 2010, 13:26
My first ever visit to RAF Colerne was for the Battle of Britain "At Home" air show in September 1964. I think that was the first year the aircraft of the museum collection were on show. Lovely weather - the first and last time I saw a camouflaged Valiant flying, the Dutch Air Force had a team of four T-33s with a F27 Troopship support aircraft, a gleaming polished silver USAF Hercules and lots more goodies.
Made 'ad hoc' visits as an ATC cadet and was always made very welcome to take photos of the Hastings and the first RAF Hercules to appear in its brown camouflage colours.
I went to the airshows every year after that and have good colour slides taken at them all. I think the last show there was 1972?

Lou Scannon
16th Jun 2010, 18:51
Thanks, Amos.
It was indeed the first time the Museum had been on display and I can well remember the difficulty the ground crew had in moving the aircraft, some without brakes, across the airfield.

John Sawyer
14th Feb 2018, 21:17
I did a lot of voluntary work at the museum between 72 - 75, including the major refurbishment of the Spit V and Heinkel 162. Anyone remember Cpl Bertie Coombes, Chief Tech Jeff Richardson and Sgt Wally Hooper?

Regarding buried bits, I was employed as an MoD guard for a while in 1977 while contractors were carrying out conversion work prior to the Army taking over. Opposite the NAAFI shop and just to the right of the Post Office, there was a fairly large grass area buffering the AMQ (I forget the name but Poplar Way does ring a bell as being adjacent). A JCB was digging a trench and unearthed a corroded main landing gear which looked to belong to a Curtiss P40, judging by the bevel gear at the top of the leg. There was no evidence of crash damage as the assembly had clearly been unbolted from the wing structure. So, there might well be more parts buried in that area.

I don't recall a Hastings being on the fire dump but there was the forward fuselage of a Shack. I witnessed the tragic XV198 accident in '73 and still have the Air Clues magazine relating to it.
I was one of the first on the scene of this crash. I was Engines trade manager on Blue Team and about to air test our just finished Base 3 C130.
I arrived shortly after the Emergency Services with a photographer in order to get pictures of the positions of the engine controls in the cockpit and on the engines.Our S.Eng.O was a S/Ldr Skipsey,recruited,I think,as a Sqdn/Leader due to a severe shortage of Eng O's at the time. I had done time on 71 M.U and this was his first experience of an incident of any sort.In fact,I think it was his first posting.and last! Our tem Radar man was cycling home to Thickwood Qrtrs and had the terrible sight of the cockpit nd 5 faces bearing down on him!
I believe there is a plaque on the wall at the site. The Captain used to live in the OMQ directly opposite the crash site.

Old Photo.Fanatic
15th Feb 2018, 15:47
Off at a slight tangent!

I was born in Bath 1941.
Mad keen on Aircraft from a very young age.
I used to spend days in the early Fifties outside of Colerne, fond memories of watching the action.

One of my close school friends in the fifties, lived in the village, so I got to know his family very well. His father was a civvy "Driver" on the airfield, a Mr Billett" (Apologies for forgetting first name)
He told me many years later that he was involved with Museum, especially the famous view of the aircraft laid out in a Triangle.

Worst part was getting there, the long hike pushing my bike up Bannerdown
hill, but offset by the great fast ride down at the end of the day.

My first air show was BOB at Colerne in 1952, highlight was an "Attacker" from Ford NAS.
I remember as we entered the airfield there was a very large dump of aircraft bits, all manner of "Ali". bits and pieces.

BOB in 1953, highlights... 3 B50 Washingtons. then three circuits by the Brabazon, two low flybys and a final touch and go , this was of course after the actual cancellation of the project. It was a gesture to all the local people from Bristol and Bath who were involved with the building of the "Brab"

Sometime later in the 70s when I started semi pro. aviation photography I organised a couple of private visits to photograph the Museum aircraft prior to it being broken up.

The other memory not actually aircraft, was when I used to spend all day watching the action. It was the continuous sound of "Skylarks" singing as they flew up, which is evoked when I hear the almost rare sound now at airfields of to-day.

Closing the hanger door.


15th Feb 2018, 18:32
Thanks for replies, especially after so long, John Sawyer and Old Photo Fanatic. I have since moved on from Colerne (and the RAF) but will forever be fond of the place.