To Dig or Not to Dig?

John Crossland on the ethical dilemmas facing those who wish to dig out Battle of Britain planes and pilots.

This summer the last of the few moved around the air fairs and flying shows held for the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, signing books in aid of a £20 million appeal for their ailing comrades and for the families of those 544 who did not return. The survivors were patient with an eager public well aware that these men were, as a. publicist put it, 'living history.' Yet privately they admitted that often it was pure luck that they survived and another pilot did not.

Few of those who enjoyed the aerobatics of the Spitfires and Hurricanes in the flying displays realised that the fields and chalk downland around the airfields still constitute one vast graveyard for wartime aircraft – and occasionally for their pilots.

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