May 6, 2021 10.17 am This story is over 14 months old

Amphibious ‘Buffalo’ carried through Crowland 70 years after sinking

A fundraiser has been set up for a museum

An amphibious vehicle that was recovered from below ground after 74 years in Crowland has been sent to a restoration site, and the man who found it is in search for a museum to house it.

The Buffalo LVT (landing vehicle trapped) spent 74 years underground after it sank during an operation to construct a temporary dam.

It was one of 30 amphibious vehicles placed in a horseshoe formation to shore up a breached bank, though only sixteen of them remain in place for flood defences to this day.

The tank had been washed away during a flood defence operation in 1947.

Daniel Abbott, a 41-year-old farmer from Crowland, found the vehicle after three years of examining records and exploring the area.

After a five-day haul, with help from North Level Internal Drainage Board, Crowland Cranes and Tear’s Recovery, the 50-man team lifted the vehicle out from the hole on May 1; from 30 feet below the ground.

The Buffalo was then taken away from its underground home and hauled through Crowland, with hundreds in town to witness it.

The Buffalo passes Crowland’s famous Trinity Bridge on its way to the restoration site.

It was taken to its restoration site on pretty much the opposite route to what it had taken in 1947 before sinking.

Members of Crowland LVT Association helped with the clean-up, and Daniel could not believe the condition it was in.

He said: “Every time I touch it, it surprises me, it really is in very good condition.

“We’d soon cleaned up the majority of it and found that the ramp works, which is great. It only took three hours to get that working.

“It might need a new engine and I think a couple of track links are going to have to be replaced.”

Daniel Abbott (centre) with some of the many volunteers on the project.

The recovery and restoration project of the Buffalo LVT has so far cost nothing, but a fundraising effort is underway to have the vehicle form part of a museum in Crowland.

A gofundme has been set up for the project to assist with the vehicle’s restoration, with an initial £2,000 target in place.

Daniel hopes that the museum can help tell the story of the floods in the town that ended up sinking the Buffalo for over 70 years.

He says he thinks he knows where a second landing vehicle is too, but is focused on repairing and cleaning the first one before anything else.

“It’s great that many of the people who recovered the Buffalo have been helping to clean it down.

“If we have to get a new engine that will be expensive. Let’s get one sorted before we move on to thinking about the other. That might be a couple of years away.”

He added: “Every day is a lesson and I’m always learning, which is nice.”