Boston Second World War veteran enjoys a trip down memory lane when he joins the celebrations to mark the recovery of Crowland's Buffalo
Is it a bird? Is it a tank? No, it’s a Buffalo!
An event was held at Crowland Cranes on Friday to celebrate the recovery of a buffalo, an amphibious vehicle which had been buried underground for more than 70 years (see panel).
TV celebrity and historian Al Murray was there to record a podcast...but star of the day was World War II D-Day veteran veteran Ernie Covill.
Buffaloes were personnel carriers involved in operations to cross the Rhine in the Second World War and Ernie (96) last drove one back in 1945, two years before 30 buffaloes were sent to Crowland to help with flooding. Several were swept away in serious local floods and seemingly lost forever.
Now this one has been unearthed, Ernie was offered the chance to step onto a Buffalo once again, and he was hoisted on by soldiers from Catterick.
Ernie, who lives in Boston, said: “It’s in marvellous condition for what it’s been through. You just want to jump right in and have a go again.
“Of course, it was just a job. We were in it day in, day out. We did what we had to do.
“I didn’t used to like being on them. They could make you feel trapped. They weren’t my favourite vehicle.”
Two weeks after a visit from TV historian Dan Snow, comedian and writer Al Murray, well known for his ‘Pub Landlord’ persona, visited the buffalo.
The British TV regular was on hand to record an episode of his ‘We Have Ways Of Making You Talk’ podcast, and chatted to Ernie. They laughed and joked as Ernie reminisced about his days using The Buffalo.
Daniel Abbott (41), chairman of The Crowland Buffalo LVT Association, spearheaded the project to recover the vehicle. He was very happy with the way the day went.
“It’s a great way to say thank you to all the volunteers,” he said.
“The army boys came down from Catterick to say thank you to us for recovering their vehicle.
“It’s exciting to have this kind of media coverage. It’s not very often that we get to do something like this.
“Maybe we’ll have another Buffalo next year - but I’m not saying too much!”
The Crowland Buffalo story so far...
The buffalo was recovered at the end of April after being buried underground for more than 70 years.
The amphibious vehicle was originally sent to the town in 1947 to help with serious floods, but was carried away by waters and remained hidden until recently.
A team involving personnel from Crowland Cranes, North Level Internal Drainage Board and Tear’s Recovery were on hand to drag The Buffalo from the depths.
There are now plans to display the vehicle in a museum, which would allow awareness of the floods to be spread ahead of their 75th anniversary next year.
A few more buffaloes are believed to be buried under Crowland’s fishing lake.
If you would like to support the fundraising please go to https://uk.gofundme.com/f/crowland-buffalo-restoration-museum