It has a back-story that reads like an act of fiction, but the quest launched by one ex-Haverhill resident to buy and return a Spitfire from the Far East to its spiritual home in England is very much a reality.
Former RAF technician David Treagger needs to raise £2m to buy and then bring back to the UK one of the iconic Mark XIV Spitfires discovered buried 40ft underground in the Burmese jungle.
It is believed at least 36, and maybe up to 60, of the aircraft were buried still in their crates and not assembled at the end of World War Two.
They were buried on the orders of British military hierarchy, who opted not to transport them back to the UK.
They were finally found earlier this year by Lincolnshire farmer David Cundall, who had been searching for them for 16 years, although they have yet to be unearthed.
After the discovery, Mr Treagger decided to set up the Castle Bromwich Return-Restoration and Preservation Fund to finance the purchase one of the planes from the Burmese Government.
The 50-year-old moved to Haverhill with his wife Joanne in 1993 after leaving the RAF and taking up a job with Marshall’s Aerospace in Cambridge. At the time his surname was Bullock, but he has since changed it.
They lived in Deans Close for 11 years, and their children Ashley, 18 and Stephanie, 21, attended New Cangle Primary School.
Mrs Treagger worked at Gavins in the town’s High Street.
The family moved to Denmark after Mr Treagger was offered a new job there, and today they live in Ebeltoft, a small town on one of Jutland’s peninsulas.
He said: “I’ve been following the story for some time and with David Cundall being a local guy from the Midlands (Mr Treagger originates from Walsall), and because I’ve done a restoration project myself for the RAF Museum I thought ‘I’ve got the experience so why not try and turn this around and see if we can get one of these Spitfires back to Birmingham’.”
PM David Cameron, said Mr Treagger, is backing his cause, and he has also linked up with the Birmingham Mail, which is running an appeal to see some of the Spitfires taken back to the area in which they were made.
Mr Treagger officially start his fund-raising appeal on January 5, and time is critical.
He said: “The reason we want to get the story out to as many people as possible is that we have only got a short period of tie.
“We have a maximum of 12 months to raise that money.
“We want to get them back in to the country because of what they did for our war effort.”
Anyone who can help the appeal can contact Mr Treagger at firstname.lastname@example.org.