Peat: What isn’t it good for?

Peat was used by the Vikings to make swords and cannon balls by the American revolutionaries. Today it is used by the Scots to make Whisky, the Irish to heat their homes and the Fins to make electricity. It is well know that peat is an excellent preserver of ancient Europeans bodies, but it turns out it is also a great preserver of firearms. The wreckage of a WWII Splitfire was recovered from a peat bog, along with its six well preserved Browning M1919 machine guns.

The BBC reports

This was the place where, in 1941, Roland “Bud” Wolfe, an American pilot flying a British RAF Spitfire, paid for by a wealthy Canadian industrialist, had experienced engine failure while flying over the neutral Republic of Ireland.

After flying a sortie over the Atlantic, Wolfe was on his way back to his base in Northern Ireland when he was forced to bail out. He parachuted safely to the ground – his plane smashed into the boggy hillside.

Fast-forwarding 70 years and local aviation expert Johnny McNee was able to identify the wreck site. The ensuing dig was accompanied by intense anticipation.

We had hoped for one in reasonable condition – we got six, in great shape, with belts containing hundreds of gleaming .303 rounds. The Irish soldiers then stepped in. This was a cache of heavy weapons, however historic they might be.

You can watch a video at the BBC News website of the guns being recovered and fired.

[ Many thanks to Blake, Rolf, Eamonn & Alex for emailing me the link. ]



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • noob

    The PEATSAFE!

    It’s a box full of swamp water. Kiss your cosmoline good bye and enjoy truly low maintenance anoxic long term storage for your firearms.

  • Greetings from Texas,
    When I was in highschool (1970 +-) I read an article about the Dutch draining the Zider Zee (if I am spelling that correctly). It had been going on for years, but as they ended the project an astounding selection of aircraft from both world wars were revilved. Some were in better preserved than others. A few were in pretty good shape after water landings, but most were pretty smashed up.

    Of the one’s that came down in tact they were in an outstanding state of preservation, including weapons and crew. Even some of the fabrick on the world war one planes was still in place.

    It’s kind of neat when guns are well preserved. Bit of a bummer when the bombs are still good.

  • G

    There have been some truly amazing finds in European swamps:
    A Russian T34 with German markings:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNJ-acc9Qsk
    A German StuG III:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=lvveoQRVBxY
    A wreck of a Russian IL2 fighter plane with its pilot:

  • A.J.P.

    It seems such a shame that having survived the crash, the rebuilt gun will be “made safe” ie: effectively destroyed.

  • Pedro C.P.

    Well bogs and peat fields, if I`m not mistaken, are extremely oxygen deprived environments. What would explain why metal don’t rust away; but the thing is also extremely acidic so I`m surprised the metal was not corroded like in those batteries at chemistry class (which I skipped and can hardly remember anything…).

    • zincorium

      Such is the advantage of behind-a-generation technology. The concerns of the current generation do not apply.

  • Maverick

    It’s kind of sad. What mother nature couldn’t destroy in 70 years will only take the GB government a day.

    • W

      LMAO hahaha. such was true with the L1A1

  • Chase

    It’s a crying shame that a find of such historical significance was made in Britain, of all places.

  • Chase

    I am an idiot. This is in the Republic of Ireland, not Britain. Disregard.

  • Flashman

    During the Rhodesian Bush War [1972-1979] this class of .303 Browing MG was used to equip Alouette helicopters in an attack role [in a twin mount with reflector gun sight firing out the door]. It was also used on various armoured vehicles and on pick-up trucks escorting civilian road convoys.

    These Brownings were originally supplied as WW2 era aircraft weapons. As befits an aircraft weapon, they have a faster rate of fire than the more orthodox 1919 model – lighter recoil mechanism I believe.

  • Cahal Mcgirr

    It was a boggy hillside not a true bog. The gun was caked in clay which prevented oxygen from getting to the metal parts.

  • Jusuchin (Military Otaku)

    Browning has looked from up high and is smiling. The simple genious who had predated Mikhail Kalahnikov no doubt is wanting to brag to others up in Heaven on how his old design still works.

    It will be a sad day for us all when there is no more Browning guns in military inventories anywhere.

  • Sam Suggs

    nice to now that no matter what their is still something for the archeologists