Archaeologists hope for historic find at Dambusters’ building

St Vincents is well known for its connection to the Dambusters Raids.

St Vincents is well known for its connection to the Dambusters Raids.

0
Have your say

TEAMS of archaeologists spent the weekend at St Vincent’s in Grantham attempting to uncover secrets from the legendary dambusters raids.

Owner of the house, Graham Jeal, invited archaeologists to his home, formerly used by HQ 5 Group Bomber Command, under the stewardship of Air Commodore Arthur “Bomber” Harris.

The night of the dambusters raids, Bomber Harris was in the operations room at St Vincents along with the inventor of the bouncing bomb, Barnes Wallace, awaiting news on the success or failure of the mission.

Rumours have always abounded of a secret underground command centre in the grounds of the building, prompting Mr Jeal to contact Grantham Archaeology Group 18 months ago.

At the weekend, the JCB diggers were brought in and dozens of archaeologists descended on the site.

Dave Hibbert, of GAP, said: “The weekend was an excellent success, with some very exiting archaeology being uncovered. We have unearthed several substantial features which we are hoping we can investigate further to establish their use.”

One feature appears to be a trench system with steps and the other is a substantial concrete structure the use of which is not yet known.

Mr Hibbert said: “We can’t say we have found the bunker but we have found features that are looking promising.

“It would suggest there is an awful lot more to find - hopefully sooner, rather than later.

“We would like to get back up there as soon as possible.”

GAP hope the weekend’s work will only be the beginning of an on-going project but on Sunday evening the group re-filled the excavations awaiting permission for further investigations.

Mr Hibbert said: “We could not wish for better support from a land or property owner. When you invite an archaeological group in you are obviously going to get everything dug up but he has been a star to allow all that to go on in his back garden.”

The work drew a large amount of attention, with a BBC and an independent film crew spending considerable time at St Vincents. The Discovery Channel is said to be interested in a possible documentary.

Grantham resident David O’Flanagan also paid the site a visit. Mr O’Flanagan is a member of the Fenland branch of the Bomber Command Association and was pleased with what he saw.

He said: “It’s marvellous that Graham is that interested and the house is in the care of someone that has that interest and wants to get on with it.

“St Vincent’s is a bit forgotten in Grantham, even though there has been a long-standing exhibition it’s surprising the number of people who have no idea about its history.”