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45's buried in north africa

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Post Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:50 am

Posts: 140
Location: USA
The other day an old timer told me that the U.S. military had buried a whole bunch of motorcycles and other equipment during WWII during a retreat in North Africa to prevent the Germans from using the equipment.I have no reason to doubt the story and wouldn't be all that surprised that the stuff is still there and probably not in that all bad shape.Perhaps there are some historians here that have similar stories. :D

Post Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:26 am

Posts: 1646
that infallible source... nearly as good as 'a man I met in the pub'.. :D

having worked in N Africa, I greatly doubt that any significant quantity of anything is left in any accessible location.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...

Post Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:50 pm

Posts: 140
Location: USA
Brit,your probably right but I have picked up some good deals on basket cases over the years just because people didn't take the time to do a little digging,sometimes its amazing the things you can learn from some of the old timers.This story kind of reminds me about the guys who found P-38 Lightings frozen in ice.Well thanks for your thoughts and if you have cool stories tell us. :D

Post Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:16 pm

Posts: 8
Location: Ashland,Ohio USA
Well, if ya need a sidekick to go look for them I'm ready. I'm quick with a joke and good with a shovel.

Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:54 am

Posts: 1646
I say this because....

(1) both sides made extensive use of captured equipment, you can see this in many photographs.

(2) the main American campaign was in Morocco and Tunisia. This bears about the same resemblance to the conventional 'sand and camels' image of 'the desert' as Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific does to, say, Okinawa. Try digging a tank-size hole quickly, in most parts of Morocco and Tunisia, and see how you get on

(3) the desert war did indeed go through a phase of rapid movement and counter-movement along the Mediterranean coast. However this was a British and to some extent, French theatre which ran its course before the Americans ever arrived. The American campaign in Morocco and Tunisia was more like the Normandy campaign in many respects, a slow progressive movement from West to East while the British 8th Army drove up from the South and the French, mostly, fought among themselves ( this last isn't simply a conventional British witticism; the local French colonial governors were deeply divided among themselves politically and took very different attitudes to the respective status of the then-Vichy government, its degree of suzerainty over them, and the status of the De Gaulle 'government in waiting' in Britain at the time )

I know about the P38s, it was a major expedition which was widely publicised on satellite tv ( I assume this is how it was funded ). Whether any usable planes were recovered, I have no idea but I rather doubt it. I've occasionally seen isolated wrecks in desert locations, they come and go as the wind-blown sand exposes and reburies them. A number of World War 2 remains were brought back to UK and reburied, during the First Gulf War, for this reason.


I've had a couple of 'finds' over the years but I've wasted a lot of time looking at wrecked scooters in hedges ( 'scooter' in the British sense of a small two-stroke run-about with a pressed-steel frame ) and don't waste my time over them any more without some fairly firm information
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...

Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:54 pm

Posts: 2685
Location: Los Angeles, CA
My father was in the Sea Bee's in the South Pacific during WWII. At the end of the war he would back a Cat into a landing craft. The would fill the landing craft with trucks, jeeps, compressors, construction equipment, airplanes and everything else you could think of. Then they would go out to sea, open the front and push everything into the ocean. He would jump off the running Cat and it would follow the equipment into the drink. :cry:

Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:07 pm

Posts: 1646
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...

Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:03 pm

Posts: 2685
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Glacer Girl is in flying condition now. But not when she was removed from the ice. Many parts were crushed and had to be remade. It cost milti millions to get her back into the air.

Post Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:53 am

Posts: 1646
well, yes... but I have a friend who is much involved in the steam railway preservation movement. He tells me that the progressive replacement over time of wearing parts gives any 'preserved' locomotive a "grandfathers' axe" quailty at best and indeed, many are best regarded as replicas incorporating parts from the original machine, rather than restorations containing substantial parts of original metal.

Same could be said of a lot of restored bikes. I would rather imagine that much of the structure of Glacier Girl was life-expired, or damaged beyond repair, and could never have flown again under any circumstances.

I don't have a problem with this. To me, the crucial thing is that she is flying again and can be seen as she once was, as a working machine rather than a museum piece with probably, no internals and no real suggestion of what she once was. As long as people understand what they are actually looking at, so what. If someone is prepared to fund a multi-million dollar restoration of something that would never have happened any other way, and someone else is willing to pay several million dollars for the result, why should I worry?
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...

Post Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:50 pm

Posts: 2685
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Back in the late '70's/early '80's I remember a news story about a find at a construction site in England. They uncovered slit trenches from WWII with all kinds of stuff buried in them. Including Harley-Davidson motorcycles. No mention of the condition of the bikes after being in the moisture absorbing ground for 35 or so years. :mrgreen:

Post Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:28 pm

Posts: 377
Location: madison wisconsin usa
you guys can go to africa.

i got plenty of barns to look through here in wisconsin!

john :D

Post Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:42 pm

Posts: 1646
I worked on the Alconbury airfield demobilisation works in the 90s and several 45s were recovered from flooded vehicle pits in the transport shop. There were also a number of jeep engines and transmissions.

they were all bought by a dealer from the contract and sold on. They had been immersed in oil with a few inches of rainwater on top; anything above the oil line was ruined, but anything below was fine.

I also remember a 1930s bike, I think a calthorpe, being recovered from the bed of a canal in Coventry in about 1998, it was fine; again, the canal bed was thick with bitumious slurry ( it was part of a former gasworks site ) and the bike was fully restored and is running now
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...


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