A Spitfire Named ‘Kerala’

A lot of Commonwealth citizens are known to have fought for Britain in various world wars, especially the two Wold Wars, but here’s another way they helped. This comes from the present edition of Current Archaeology, about a Spitfire that crashed over Huntingdonshire in 1940, during the Battle of Britain.

The plane had the unusual name of Kerala, paid for and named by readers of the Madras Mail. It was piloted by 20 year old Pilot officer Harold Edwin Penkith, who had trained in Canada. On 22 November 1940 the plane suddenly went into a nosedive, recovered a little but then plunged into Holme Fen.

Penketh’s body was recovered at the time, but the site is now being subject to archaeology prior to the return of the tiny Holme Fen and nearby Wodwalton Fen becoming part of the creation of a ‘Great Fen’ to establish a 3,700ha wildlife reserve, as the two small regions cannot support wildlife in isolation.

The archaeologists found a broken plate with RAF logo on it, left behind by those who recovered the body, leading one person to wonder if in the future such an item might have considered it a ritual object.


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