The timber Buffalo

Work has started to make a scaled display model of Buffalo 47. All wood being used is reclaimed and the replica is being built using the plans of the British version of LVT4.

One of the first events we hope to use it at is the Spalding Flower Parade which returns after a 10 year gap on Saturday 13 May 2023. At one time, Spalding was well known for it’s annual flower parade but sadly due to lack of funding and support, it ceased to exist but it returns this year.

If you have any spare timber you could donate to the project please contact us here.

Thanks to Daniel Abbott, Darren Speechley and Ollie Wilson (WPS Wilson Property Services) for their help and effort so far.

Why do we need to build a wooden replica when we have the real thing?

The replica will be used when we visit shows to which we are not able to transport the Crowland Buffalo and will help show what a fantastic vehicle it is.

The Crowland Buffalo weighs in at around 15 tons or 33,600lb so needs a large vehicle and trailer to move it which isn’t always practical, it’s also a task in itself getting it loaded on and off the trailer.

The association relies on the support of Crowland Cranes or Tears Recovery to move the Buffalo around but both those businesses do not always have the time or the equipment needed available. It would be prohibitorily expensive for us to hire the necessary equipment to move the Buffalo to locations where we need it. The timber Buffalo will allow us to attend more events and use it as a mobile information centre.

Replica tanks

Replica or dummy tanks were known were used in World War One but significantly more in World War Two. They were either built of timber, an inflatable skeleton covered in canvas or a full inflatable replica of the real thing. Designed to fool enemy intelligence they were quite fragile and only believable from a distance.

Their use in military deception was pioneered by British forces, who termed them “spoofs.” They are still in use today but modern designs are generally more advanced and can imitate heat signatures, making them more effective illusions.

Pre D-Day they were used as part of Operation Fortitude which was a major element of Operation Bodyguard, one of the main objectives was to ensure the Germans would not increase troop presence in Normandy and to do so by promoting the appearance that the Allies would attack in other locations.

Creating the museum

Here at the Buffalo headquarters, we are building up items to go on show to the public in a museum in the coming years.

Daniel Abbott chairman of the association says: “The museum will be focused on the fenland floods of 1947 where here in Crowland the Buffalo LVT4 played a massive part. Before our Buffalo came to Crowland it was used in the Rhine Crossing which brings us into the wartime feel of our great-grandparents and my grandparents’ lives on the front line.

We are looking to save as many wartime items as possible that are found around the local area, also from the railways from the local area and of past area local businesses and brickyards to wartime homes.

There will be a farming section as that’s played a massive part in my life, and of some of our team. Our volunteers are doing their best to keep this history alive so everyone can learn and teach our young generation and keep this history alive for the future years to come.”

If you know of anything that you might think the association would be interested in please contact our chairman Daniel Abbott by emailing him at abbottofcrowland@gmail.com, calling on 07794 341468, or by post to 5 Coronation Ave, Crowland, PE6 0BW.

Raising funds for a small charity is always going to be a challenge so we decided to form the ‘Crowland Buffalo LVT Association’ (registered charity number 1200588).

If you think you might be interested in being a volunteer or know someone who is and would like to join our team, please get in contact. We are always looking for skilled workers or anyone who would like to clean items down when we are working on the Buffalo or any other items we manage to save. We also have a volunteer messenger group called the Maintenance Team.

If anyone has a low-loader, we have had an ex-RAF fuel tanker donated to the museum we looking to be collected from near Spalding if anyone can help?

If you feel you would be able to donate, please follow the link to our GOFUNDME page: https://gofund.me/c8e5b781. Thank you to everyone who has already donated, we wouldn’t have got as far as we have without your help.

Winter is coming…

But work on the Buffalo continues…

Winter is on its way but work to restore the Crowland Buffalo continues. If you’d like to be part of the team we are still looking for volunteers with the right skills and tools to help restore the Buffalo LVT to working condition over the next few months.

Some of the jobs to do this winter include straightening the engine bay, checking, clearing and cleaning the fire extinguisher pipework, checking the engine holder frame for wear, fitting oil radiators, making new fuel pipes, remaking the engine bay panels and much more.

If you’d like to be involved please contact us and lets us know what skill you can put towards the project. It doesn’t matter if you can help with just one thing and have limited free time, or maybe do more. We would be grateful for your help.

Association Chair wins award

Daniel Abbott pictured at the award presentation with Edd China, ex television presenter from the series Wheeler Dealers. and Lady Judy McAlpine

On Wednesday 5 October at Fawley Hill in Buckinghamshire, Daniel Abbot, Chair of the Buffalo LVT Association was presented with the National Transport Trust Preservationist of the Year Award.

The Award

The trust awards its trophy to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the cause of transport heritage preservation in a specific year, or who has culminated in a specific year. The winner holds for a year a silver model of SS Great Britain, since the award was inspired by the achievement of Sir Jack Hayward in returning the vessel from the Falklands to Bristol.

Daniel said “The award was given to me for researching and leading the Buffalo project but I couldn’t have done it without Team Buffalo. I would like to thank the committee and the public for supporting and donating funds to get us to this point.”

National Transport Trust promotes and encourages the preservation and restoration of Britain’s transport heritage in all its forms – road, rail, wings and water.

This is a fabulous award and great news for Daniel and the project.

If you would like to support the project visit this page on the website.

A trip to remember

Alconbury Weald

On Sunday 18 September 2022 in aid of the Crowland Buffalo, vehicles from the 1930s to the 1960s took a round trip of war memorials and ex and active bases across Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. The trip started at Stibbington Diner on the A1 with a lunch stop at Alconbury Weald*, and finally the former RAF Spanhoe. It was a fabulous day and later even the sun came out.

Find another video by Pte.Bennett here.

Locations visited:

RAF Sibson: The base opened in July 1940. It only ever had grass runways but was used as a training base for naval pilots flying Hawker Audaxes and Hart bi-planes. It later saw Tiger Moths before being closed in 1946. The airfield is now a private concern used for light aircraft.

RAF Polebrook: Opened in August 1940 this airfield had an ‘A’ shape of three runways. Built for heavy bombers and transports the base hosted the American B-17C during the second world war. The base closed in October 1948 and today the majority of the runways have been removed.

RAF Grafton Underwood: Opened in 1941 the airfield was assigned USAAF Station 106 and was used by the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force. The base was home to the B-17 Flying Fortress. After the war, Grafton Underwood was used for vehicle storage but finally closed in 1959.

The B-17 was located at a number of airbases we visited.

RAF Molesworth: RAF Molesworth dates back to 1917. It’s still an operational site but a non-flying facility under the control of the United States Air Force (USAF). During the Second World War the site was home to Douglas DB-7s and later the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

RAF Alconbury: Opened in 1938 for RAF Bomber Command and from 1942 the United States Army Air Force. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress arrived in November 1942. Part of the base is still operational as a non-flying site but much has been sold for new housing and commercial premises.

RAF Glatton (Connington): Opened in 1944 the site was home to the B-17s of the 457th Bombardment Group. Today parts of two of the runways remain and Glatton now operates as Peterborough Business Airport.

RAF Deenethorpe: During the Second World War the site was home to the 401st Bombardment Group flying the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Today part of the old main runway is now used as a private airstrip but the 600 acres (240 ha) airfield was approved as a “garden village” in 2017. The plans include a village green, shops and a community hall, as well as more than 1,000 homes.

RAF Spanhoe: The final stop on the day, RAF Spanhoe opened in 1943 and was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces primarily as a transport airfield. Today little of the airfield remains. The majority of the main runways were removed but it is currently active and the home to various privately owned light aircraft.

The content above is just a summary, click on the links for further information about any of the locations.

Thank you to everyone who attended and we hope everyone had a good day. Some of the feedback we have had:

  • “Fantastic day out. Thanks to everyone involved”
  • “We had a very nice day out can not wait for the next one”
  • “It was a really good day out I think, really enjoyed it, looking forwards to another one soon”
  • “Fantastic day well done all, really well thought out enjoyed every minute”
  • “Excellent road trip for a worthy cause. We enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you.”

Terrific day, great fun and beautiful drive, thank you for organising this, we loved it.

RAF Spanhoe
  • The lunch stop was at Bohemia Alconbury Weald. This converted restaurant lies at the heart of the first phase of the Alconbury Weald development which is located on the site of the old RAF base. The grade 2 listed building was the first permanent structure on the former airfield and served as RAF Alconbury’s central operations hub during the second world war.

A thank you – Crowland and Thorney 1940s weekend 2022

We would like to thank all the visitors, traders, re-enactors, and everyone else that made the event possible. It was the first event we’ve held and a huge amount of work into making the event happen by a small team of volunteers. Lessons can always be learned and we’ll take them on board, but the majority of the feedback has been positive so we hope you enjoyed the event.

Additionally, a thank you to Micheal Sly, our sponsor for loaning us the venue for the weekend, the rest of the team from Park Farm, the lads from the Royal Engineers for organising the parking, to RAF Spanhoe team and Richard Ellingworth for the flypast with Sia Marchetti and YAK 50, and to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire which flew over on Saturday afternoon.

An great photo of the Spitfire by Thorney resident, Steve Fretwell as it flew over the event on Saturday afternoon.

And finally, the day couldn’t take place without the help of our amazing team of volunteers, from dealing with the admin, manning the ticket desk, organising the site to cleaning toilets and emptying the bins, thank you.

Entertainment
Traders
Reenactors
Food and drink
And last but not least

I’ve tried to link to as many as possible. If you’ve been missed or don’t have a link, please post your name and a link below or contact us.

Check the event Facebook Group for further photos. Some feedback from the page below:

What a brilliant event for a first time. Fantastic entertainment and displays, great selection of traders. It was really good to see the agricultural history along with the military side of the 40’s. A well earned thank you Daniel Abbott and Cathi, Andrew Smalley and Christine and all the organising team not forgetting Michael for providing such a marvellous venue.

P.M.

Loved it! so well organised and clean, well done to you all

R.N

Congratulations Daniel, Dave and all the organisers for your efforts in putting on a superb weekend, from everyone at Spirit of the Homefront

Spirit of the Homefront

Good morning we had a great time yesterday, we ran a 1940s event in Kent for seven years so know how hard all the team worked to make it happen. Well done indeed and what a great venue and just 20 minutes from where we live.

W.H.

Engine startup

After a lot of work, our Continental R-670 bursts into life.

The original Buffalo engine was beyond restoration so this one was purchased from Mississippi, USA in July 2021 and shipped to the UK. It is an original surplus LVT engine from the end of the Second World War and it’s believed that it hasn’t been run since it left the factory.

The Buffalo engine team consisting of Chris Collop, Paddy Nightingale and Tom Woodhouse worked tirelessly to get it fired up and roaring as a static display.

If anyone has a 3D printer and can make us one of these: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3652570 please let us know.

Related News

Restored Buffalo gearbox returns home

It’s been less than a year since the Buffalo was pulled out of the ground and the restored gearbox has been re-installed into the Buffalo with the help of DB Santasolo.

As Daniel Abbott chairman of the Crowland Buffalo LVT said “It was great weather for the installation, with clear blue skies. I arrived on-site at 7am and finished at 6pm but we had a cracking day and it’s starting to look like a Buffalo at last. Thanks to Crowland Cranes, the team from David Brown, Mark Ingram and Josh for their help.”

Matthew from DB Santasolo said in a BBC Look North news report about the restoration: “It was a very smelly process, the water that had been in there was stagnant. I looked at it and thought this was never going to work, but once all the mud was cleared off the gears they came up like new and I thought we may actually be able to get this working.”

Work is ongoing to get the engine running and we hope to achieve this by the end of this year. The original engine was beyond restoration so a new one was shipped in from the USA, it still though needs a lot of work to get it to where we can install it into the Buffalo.