My Spitfire Odyssey - Part 2. The year I became a Spitfire Hunter - To The Mountain



Whilst researching the location of Spitfire AA810’s crash site Google offered up a gift. That being the existence of a dam within the locality of Surnadal. The dam was situated approximately 3 miles from Sandy’s crash site. But more importantly the dam had a private access road up to it. It was this revelation a year prior to our arrival that had convinced Tony Hoskins our expedition leader that an excavation of the crash site was in fact a very real and practical possibility.

We met with our Norwegian team mates on a forest road three miles from the end of which lay our Spitfire. On a bright warm Norwegian summers morning we shook hands said our hello’s then climbed back into our respective vehicles to begin the climb up to the Surnadal Dam.

I must confess that I had pre conceived ideas of what a team of Spitfire hunters would look like, so far my UK compatriots had delivered to that stereotypical assumption. Mark Khan and Mark Hillier our two military historians dressed in their cerca 1990’s British army gear, Tony in his steel toe capped engineers boots and Peter Arnold our Spitfire hunter/historian extraordinaire in his green country classic waxed jacket and of course me in my swanky expedition sponsors Spitfire Heritage Distillers t-shirt.

Our Norwegians on the other hand rocked far less stereotypical look.

Such is the folly of the English gentlemen that we began distributing the spades, metal detectors and general kit amongst the men. Frode (in orange) was quick to share out his burdens to Guro (pink) and Hege (purple). Frode knew, what we would learn soon enough that Guro and Hege were mountain machines. In-fact on one occasion I almost resorted to asking them to carry me!

Tony, ever the planner had brought his own gate to lean on.

Eventually we approached our destination. Dropping down into a sheltered woodland glade, conversation petered out, this was it, we had arrived, what would we find in this lonely spot?

After establishing our camp we set about planning the dig.

Our intel was that Spitfire AA810 had smashed into the mountain pushing up a

large bank of earth which over the years had created what I can best describe as a folly surrounded by trees. Across from the folly was a grassy mound which we believed had been created by the Germans as they searched through the crash site throwing Spitfire panels into a stack in order that they could assess the interior workings of this rarest of aircraft a Photo Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) Spitfire which was as yet unknown to the German intelligence. PRU Spits were fitted with additional fuel tanks to enable greater penetration behind enemy lines, and of course a camera. In order to do so all armaments were sacrificed meaning that the PRU Pilots flew deep into hostile territories with no weapons on board.

It was at these two locations that we concentrated our efforts. The youngest members of our group Eskil and Peder set about with metal detectors. In no time at all the detectors started singing but over a much wider area than we had expected. We would have to spread ourselves out!

In no time at all the glade began to offer up her Spitfire.

A great find by Eskil , one of the four compressed air bottles - note the test date 11 09 39

Gura bagging up pieces with Eskils compressed air bottle to the rear and Radiator in the fore ground.

I don’t think any of us ever called Gura by her name. She was known to us as Eskils Mum!