Brit farmer’s incredible discovery as he digs up tank which sank 70 years ago

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An amphibious tank that washed away and sank during floods in 1947 has incredibly been found and dug up by a British farmer.

Daniel Abbott has spent the last three years examining records and exploring the area of Crowland, Lincolnshire, to try and locate the Buffalo military tank.

He discovered the vehicle, which weighs an incredible 20 tons, had in fact been buried underneath 30 feet of clay beneath the Cambridgeshire Fens for 74 years and set about recovering it.

Mr Abbott, who is chairman of Crowland Buffalo LVT – a group aiming to save historical information in the area, said his team had to carry out "a lot of digging by hand" as well as use a machine from the North Level Drainage Board (NLIDB) in order to uncover the vehicle.

He said: "I couldn’t believe it. It was a very emotional moment. I was nervous all day as this has all been a big part of my life.

The 26ft-long LVT-4 tank was one of 16 Army vehicles brought in to act as a flood defence in the village of Crowland during the 1947 floods.

The NLIDB, Crowland Cranes and Tear’s Recovery all worked with Daniel’s committee on the 50-man project.

NLIDB estimates that it excavated about 4,500 tons of clay during the five-day operation.

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Works supervisor Nick Day said: “As the flood defence authority we held an interest and were happy to volunteer our machinery.

“Ground scans had been carried out but there was the possibility it could have been just a cattle trough there. But our hopes were raised when we smelt fuel in the groundwater.”

He added: “When the Buffalo broke free of the suction and started to move up and out it was a great moment.”

The team have said that the tank is in remarkably good condition, thanks largely to the preservation qualities of the clay.

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However, now it’s in contact with the air there’s time pressure to get it cleaned up and treated to prevent it from deteriorating.

Daniel insists the Buffalo will not be sold and will be staying in Crowland.

Mr Abbott said: "I've always wanted to get one of the tanks out before the 75th anniversary of the floods and we started planning this a couple of years ago.

"I'm over the moon with what we've achieved, it's very exciting.

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"We've spent five days digging and we're nearly there. We've had to do a lot of digging by hand, as well as using a machine from the North Level Drainage Board.

"We found the gun mount first and it's in fantastic condition for its age. The tank seems to have been well preserved in the clay.

"Once we've winched it out we will assess it, then hopefully we will eventually be able to put it in a nice shed in the town and make a museum.

"It's been in Crowland for 74 years and it's part of the town's history."

He added: "There were a lot of rumours flying around about the Buffaloes not being there. People told me that they’d all been recovered.

"But I remember as a young child my great-grandparents telling me there were amphibious vehicles around the site.

"I just want to thank everyone who has helped in this project."

In a post on Facebook, the Crowland Buffalo LVT wrote: "Three years ago Daniel started on the mammoth task of searching for one of the buffalo's used in 1947.

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"This week, that dream became a reality as one was located, a very large hole dug and today the buffalo was recovered.

"Daniel has led and inspired the committee of willing friends, who now wonder what his next project will be.

"This project though could not have happened without the help and support of North Level IDB, Crowland Cranes, Tears and many other local people and firms.

"Well done Daniel."

The group now wants to restore it and have it located somewhere within the town as a memorial to the 1947 floods and is accepting donations towards its ongoing work.

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