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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK
WWII bomber emerges from glacier
Fairey Battle aircraft
The bomber crashed soon after take-off
A long hot summer in Iceland has revealed previously hidden parts of a British warplane that crashed on a glacier in May 1941.

The Fairey Battle bomber has been re-emerging slowly from the ice since 1995, monitored by aviation enthusiast Hordur Geirsson.

"For the first time, we have seen the engine," he told BBC News Online.

"This summer has been unbelievably warm and the winter was mild. Three metres of ice has disappeared since spring."

Map of Iceland
Four servicemen died in the crash: a New Zealand-born Flight Officer, Arthur Round, and three British airmen - Flight Sergeant Keith Garrett, Flight Sergeant Reginald Hopkins and Pilot Officer Henry Talbot.

Recovering body parts is the top priority for Mr Geirsson and his fellow volunteers, but they also preserve parts of the aircraft for the museum in the nearby town of Akureyri.

They have received help from the British Mountain Rescue Service, its Icelandic equivalent, and the Iceland Coast Guard.

Mild winter

The aircraft crashed soon after take-off, and buried itself in three or four metres of winter snow.

The layer of the glacier dating from 1941 is lying at an angle of 15 degrees to the present surface, which is why the aircraft does not appear all at once.

Engine of the Fairey Battle (Picture: Hordur Geirsson)
Most of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine has now been recovered
Another reason is that the aircraft broke up on impact and is scattered over at least three sites.

The wing and landing gear is at one location, while most of the wreckage is 50 metres to the north. This year the Rolls Royce Merlin engine emerged another 30 metres to the north, and part of a propeller has been found even further away.

The weather has been warmer than in any other year since the project started, with a warm summer following a mild winter.

"In 1999, I forecast the work [recovering the remains of the aircraft and its crew] would take 10 years," Mr Geirsson said.

"Five years have passed and there is not much now that still needs to be rescued.

"But we won't stop scanning the area until we are certain that no human remains are left up there."

Relatives of the pilot and crew visited the glacier for a memorial service in 2000.




SEE ALSO:
Glacier reveals 60-year secrets
15 Aug 01  |  Europe
Glacier bodies finally buried
27 Aug 00  |  UK News


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