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Aircraft Archaelogy & Recovery Pilot Officer Kosh

February 12 2010 at 6:37 PM
Adam Flitter  (Login adamflitter)
from IP address

Anyone interested in aircraft archaeology and digging up WW2 aircraft may find this interesting. It changed my view of the hobby.



(Login theotherChris)
Forum Member


February 13 2010, 12:28 AM 

If Saunders went into his dig after knowing that the "body" had been buried in a fullsized coffin in a churchyard, then he thought he was merely digging up a wreck. Afterall, Mr. Kosh could have been killed while baling out or something dreadful like that. Saunders was taken aback coming up against bones and such but, as he said, they could have been from anything especially as the crashsite was on land that could have been occuppied by livestock and it is would not be surprising to find bones much later. I have dinosaur bones from Montana....that are millions of years old.... They do survive.

On the other hand, once coming across the uniform and such....but then there could have been an overnight bag in the aircraft in case he landed off his normal field. Their was room enough in the Hawker.

The bracelet.... That is were I draw the line.

I don't know..... To dig or not to dig.... War is hell isn't it.

At least he received a proper burial and that probably would not have happened if Saunders had not been involved earlier.


(Login Laplander)
Forum Member


February 13 2010, 12:32 AM 

It sounds a bit spotty. I think there's more back story to this than is being reported. Saunders has an impeccable record. From what I know of him he doesn't go around just digging stuff up willy-nilly, especially if there could be remains involved. As one who is interested in, and has been involved in, battlefield archeology though, I personally found the report interesting.

Rob Laplander


(Login theotherChris)
Forum Member

how are we going to fit in the tunnel?

February 13 2010, 12:38 AM 


How is the vicar and myself going to fit into your escape tunnel? Also, if we show up for your event, we will look well fed....not like your typical POW... Can we fly in?


(Login gate1)
Forum Member

Good editing...

February 13 2010, 5:39 AM 

This report is definately edited in a certain way to make Andy Saunders look the bad guy. Andy (and I know many of the people he has dug with) does indeed have a very good record and follows the rules to the letter, which has got some peoples backs up along the way. As there was a burial during the war, its natural to think no remains would be found at the site, so I dont see that any blame can be put on Andy whatsoever.

Also, if he contacted the brother and made it known the dig was to take place, and was given the blessing of the brother, that would be good enough for most. I know of families where siblinigs disagree simply because they hate one another, so its possible the sister feels the way she does because she may not have been told or consulted, which isnt Andy's fault. After all, at the end of the day, the family fibnally had their brother back, and precious items he carried at his death.

Andy, and other diggers, continue to do so much for families, and are often hampered by the MoD themselves. I know when we excavated the crash site of Dambuster Lancaster ED825, we had the pilots nephew with us at the time, and the gratitude he has shown us simply locating the wreck is immeasurable, even though no remains were found.

I dont think any blame can be laid at Andy's door, even though the film has been edited to look that way. Unlike 'certain' military dealers who think nothing of selling items from crash sites, such as a Halifax crash site, eh?

Adam Flitter
(Login adamflitter)

No Permission to Dig & Dug without License

February 13 2010, 6:00 AM 

The documentary said he wrote to the brother not knowing he had died, never received a response and went ahead on the 'presumption' that he had family approval, because he had written. He pleaded guilty.

Good point about aircraft wreckage. He's been digging and collecting this stuff since the 70's and auctions it off on websites, making a tidy profit.

It never ceases to amaze me there are people who will jump to his defence, anyone who has had any dealings in the digging world know that personal items have been souveneired and marketed, there is this hard core of people that have never been involved that are blinkered into believing it is all done for the honour of burying the missing, the families are used to justify the actions and morally blackmail the authorities into allowing the digs, with a dug Merlin fetching 1500 - 2000 so who keeps the wreckage once they have extracted the body there has always been a demand for Battle of Britain items.

How can he justify finding a whole torso rummaging through it and throwing it back???, Kosh's remains were about as complete as you will get in any air crash more than just a few scraps,

Graverobbers documents the above well. We have the Graverobbers documentary also, which has him TOSSING BLACK BIN LINERS CONTAINING REMAINS OF AIRMEN INTO THE BACK OF A LORRY. Is that an yway to treat the heroes who fought for us?

(Login lancasterman)


February 13 2010, 8:43 AM 

With regards the black bin liners into the back of a lorry, what does the documentary say he does with them and does it actually show human remains in there or just suggests it? If this was done, was he prosecuted? No, and why not if all the 'evidence' is on film? There was an accusation that personal remains were left in bin liners in an excavated crash site when all the digger wanted was the personal effects and aircraft parts. This was nothing more than a vindictive rumour, realised when an official dig to recover said remains found no evidence at all. A TV show can show anything it likes for the benefit of getting a bit of publicity, but ask yourself one thing. If he was doing as you suggest, why do the Ministry of Defence continue to grant him a license to dig? Because of his past successes. You seem to have a large grievance against Mr Saunders with only a quarter of the story.

You say Andy Saunders has been selling off his finds since the 70s for profit. Mr Saunders was behind the setting up of the Tangmere aircraft museum, where most of his Battle of Britain finds actually now reside, for the whole nation to see. As for selling off items, when these digs are carried out, usually at the benefit of the MoD and relatives, who do you think pays what is sometimes thousands of pounds for the hire of diggers, transport, accomodation, equipment, etc? The MoD? No. The relatives? No. Its the excavators themselves. Also, as any remains found are property of the crown, its they who decide what happens to them, and if they can be kept (and sold) by the individual. With regards the dig in France on Lancaster ED825, the MoD were informed throughout, but despite finding a historic and unique piece of Dambuster aircraft, the MoD showed little interest and the RAF Museum turned it down flat. As such, it has now gone to a provincial museum in Lincoln. I know many 'diggers' who never make a penny from anything, and dig at great cost to themselves. The satisfaction comes from setting the record straight, and laying relatives minds at rest. The MoD are usually the bigger problem, when relatives have requested the excavation of known remains, diggers willing to do it at cost to themselves, but the MoD refusing permission to dig.

In the 1960s and 70s there was little if any legislation with regards digging crash sites, which is why the Protection of Military remains Act was brought in. Before that time there is no doubt that unauthrised and haphazard digs took place, which Mr Saunders and others probably were involved in. But he is now a very well known historian, crash excavator and author so to suggest he continues to partake in underhand activities is quite amusing. There are always two sides to a story, and I would not personally base accusations on a TV documantary that clearly shows only one side. You clearly either dont know him, or have a grievance against him. While there are certain Military Dealers who think nothing of selling crash site items (we all know who), its a little different to an individual, following the rules, with correct licenses and permissions, selling something that might help recoup several thousands of pounds they personally spent finding something that is now displayed for the nation to see.

Adam Flitter
(Login adamflitter)

Family's Feelings Disregarded

February 13 2010, 9:22 AM 

You've completely disregarded the feelings of P/O Kosh's sister, or haven't watched the clip.

This clip does not lie. He wrote to Charles Kosh, never received a reply....,and just presumed it would be OK to go ahead and dig. If a member of my family had been dug up, without consent, I would be mortified.

Everyone is fully aware of what Mr Saunders has done (since this terrible incident). I to would try and regain credibility & respect as well as trying to make amends with my conscience. General opinion of this incident is black & white. He pleaded guilty & the public are aware of what has been done.

The other programe "Graverobbers" gives a better understanding of this.

(Login lancasterman)

Were they...?

February 13 2010, 9:40 AM 

Well the sister says '...they dared to disturb my brothers remains in the most callous way...'. It may indeed be heartwrenching for her, but Mr Saunders was permitted a license by the MoD as they were completely happy no human remains were left to be found. Indeed the family also fully believed the complete body was buried on July 1st 1944. As remains were discovered during the dig, how can you hold the excavation team remotely responsible? I have no doubt that had the sister also been asked beforehand about the excavation of the aircraft alone she would not have had any objection as she, like the rest of the family were convinced he was buried in the local churchyard and not with his aircraft.

Whilst a sad episode, I find the sisters reaction a little harsh under those circumstances.

You also make mention that the remains were loaded into a lorry in a black plastic bag. Does the documentary also show the reverence in which the remains were taken from the earth? The two minutes silence by the excavation team? The fact they were handed over to the authorities? The burial with full honours? No I didnt think so. The fact that velvet cushions were not available to carry the remains away when none were expected to be found anyway is indeed regretable, but a fact.


(Login lancasterman)

Re: Were they...?

February 13 2010, 9:43 AM 

I think the work Andy Saunders has done since this dig has far outweighed it, and brought relief, peace and closure to many, many relatives, and rebuilt his credibility.

(Login gate1)
Forum Member


February 13 2010, 11:03 AM 

Adam, that clip does lie. Lets look at the facts, and not a cleverly edited piece of 'makes great TV' footage.

Andy Saunders spent time and money researching the crash site of a Typhoon which clearly had no pilot aboard as he had been recovered and buried in 1944. The Ministry of Defence, on the same understanding granted a license for Andy to dig, after which he wrote to the brother of Pilot Officer Kosh to tell him the crash site had been located and that they had permission from the Ministry of Defence to recover what might remain of the aircraft. The letter to the Kosh family was informative, NOT seeking their approval nor acceptance for the dig, which could not be given by the family anyway. It makes no difference if a reply was received or not as the Ministry of Defence had given permission to recover the remains of THE AIRCRAFT. How many families, convinced their relative has lain in a churchyard for 60 years would object to someone recovering the remains of the aircraft? Few, if any.

The fact that a small amount of human remains were later recovered just highlights the poor job done by the original 1944 recovery team, which I can tell you is common. No complete human skeleton was found, and what little was discovered was handed to the proper authorities and given a very decent and fitting funeral with full military honours, allowing representation from the family and pilots former Squadron.

The fact that human remains were discovered was just one of those things. They were treated with reverence and in the best way possible and correctly. Although the sister might have felt the way she did, she was able to give her brother a proper burial (at no cost to the family), not leaving him in a field intermingled with the wreck of his aircraft, and was able to have his personal possessions returned to be cherished for ever more. Most families would be eternally grateful for this opportunity, and there is no indication at all that the rest of the family, including any surviving siblings didnt in fact feel that way.

The sister's reactions are regrettable but are with hindsight. The documentary nothing more than biased to make 'great TV'.


(Login Laplander)
Forum Member

You nailed it Karl...

February 13 2010, 9:41 AM 

Karl, you said all that I had intended to. If Andy Saunders ever sold any personal items found ON a set of remains, or the uniform or equipment found ON remains, then I would be the first to step up and point a finger. But to my knowledge he has never done such a thing. We ALL agree that that is wrong, and if someone has absolute proof that he has done just that, then bring it on - I want to see it. I've never met the man and only know him through his impeccable reputation, and reputation typically carries a lot of weight, especially the bad. I had a bass player that worked for me for many years that used to say, "You can nail a hundred women and nobody calls you a stud; but suck ONE dick and you're labeled for life." That was just his colorful way of saying, it's far easier to gain a poor reputation than a good one - and Saunders has a VERY good one. That should say a lot.

That said, If he's selling some of the aircraft parts or portions he's recovered THAT NO MUSEUM HAS SHOWN AN INTEREST IN in order to recoup some of the incredible out of pocket expense he has incurred over the years, then I see no fault in that.

All too often TV creates what they want someone to see. I would agree that it seems that the sister would appear to be rather bent out of shape ostensibly because she was left out of the loop. Ask yourself this: Why would she be more upset that her brother's remains were actually recovered, instead of being pissed off at the government for lying to the family?

As for the other video mentioned - it has nothing to do with this case, unless Saunders was involved. And I see nothing in the previous post that indicates this.

Just my two shillings worth...

Rob Laplander

(Login lancasterman)

Re: You nailed it Karl...

February 13 2010, 10:03 AM 

Well lets look at a couple of scenarios...

Scenario 1.
A couple of enthusiasts, dig around a crash site with a metal detector, find some parts, some they keep and some they sell. Gouls, enthsiasts or profiteers?

Scenario 2.
A well known excavator, historian and author (lets call him Mr Saunders) spends a great deal of time and money researching a crash site, gains the correct license and permissions, spends several thousands of pounds on transport, travel, equipment and accomodation and then digs. Finds some items which the MoD have no interest in. He donates parts to a museum and may sell others. Goul, enthusiast or profiteer?

Scenario 3.
As above but human remains are unexpectedly found. They are handed to the authorities, and the family traced and informed, who are upset, and may be grateful or angry. They are then given a proper burial. Goul, enthusiast or profiteer?

Scenario 4.
A well known military trader (nameless...) comes into some uniform scraps, flying helmet parts and other personal items recovered from the crash site of a Handley Page Halifax, which may have been recovered by the seller or bought. They sell them on ebay. Goul, enthusiast or profiteer? (This also happened and the military trader and items were discussed here on this forum to widespread disgust).

To me, no 1 is a bit amateur, and relatively harmless, even though it might be illegal. No 2 is perfectly above board. No 3 is regrettable and one would hope if upsetting families, avoidable, but in the long run, the best course of action if remains are found. As for No. 4, I think the person concerned is both a goul and a profiteer and should be fucking shot. Actually that echoed the comments made on the forum at the time funnily enough...

In a best case scenario, if a team excavate a Spitfire (for example) and find most of the engine, fuselage, wings and tail, undercarriage and armament, with the exception of the latter, these items are of no interest to the MoD. The big museums have no interest either, and the smalls ones who do dont have the finance to transport and conserve the item, nor the space to display them. So what do you do? If the MoD say to you, we have no use for that, keep it and do what you will, is there any harm in selling it off? After all, how many of us have the finance and space to keep it? I have never heard of any case where human remains have been found and simply bundled into a bag and forgotten. Where human remains are expected the MoD dont usually grant a license anyway so those trhat are found are usually unexpected.

That documantary has no legs whatsoever, either on Andy Saunders nor the excavations teams as a whole. The angle of the callous digger against the wounded sister is only going to go one way, but when the sister thought her brother was safely interred its bad to show her and he in the way they have been. Its easy making a bad judgement on the back of an edited TV show, try being part of the team to get nearer the truth.


(Login Laplander)
Forum Member

Fitting in the tunnel.

February 13 2010, 9:46 AM 

The 'vicar'?
The tunnel will be two feet by two feet - plenty of room!
There is an airport in Green Bay, which is about two hours away, and then their is Oshkosh, which is about three hours away. In any case, I'm sure we can arrange motor transport from either location. One of the guys that's working with me on this lives in Green Bay, as a matter of fact.
Details are to be found on facebook at 'The Great Escape Revisited'.

Rob Laplander

Adam Flitter
(Login adamflitter)

Disrespect & DUG UP Remains

February 13 2010, 2:38 PM 

No lads, I'm sorry. If you were the sister or brother or part of the Kosh family, you'd feel different. Hr admitted his guilt & was charged & convicted. The TV clip is there fro all to see. I'll post the Graverobbers clip asap as this will give a batter understanding. Someone sent his clip to my brother and said they are sending the Graverobber clip also.

The sisters reaction a bit harsh says you say, Karl. Disrespectful on you part I'm afriad. Her brothers substantial remains were dug up, even if they were scraps, which they were not, they were still a person in someones living memory, he was dug up, all his personal items taken, and the remains reburied, not notified to the proper authorities. Only years later was he redug by the Police. I think she has a right to be harsh, who wouldn't in those circumstances. Harsh is mild to how most people in those circumstances would react.

ASK YOURSELF the qaustion........... What if this was "YOUR BROTHER" that was DUG UP?? HOW would YOU FEEL?

My brother has a stack of e mails from disgruntled people about this.

(Login lancasterman)

Re: Disrespect & DUG UP Remains

February 13 2010, 3:04 PM 

Personally in these circumstances, if it were my brother, I'd feel relieved that someone like Andy Saunders was able to allow me to give my brother a proper burial, where the authorities failed.

As he was given a license to dig with no reason to suspect there were any remains extant, I wouldnt hold him responsible at all.

How come you and your brother are taking this so personally? 18fl (as were) had no problem selling uniform remains from a crash site on ebay about two years ago.


(Login lancasterman)

Re: Disrespect & DUG UP Remains

February 13 2010, 3:09 PM 

...and unlike the scraps of uniform, parachute harness and flying helmet sold by 18fl on ebay, from that Halifax crash site (which can only have been taken from a body or remains of a body), I've never seen Andy Saunders sell, or attempt to sell any 'dug-up' personal effects at any time. Perhaps you had better start looking closer to home before throwing accusations about?

As has been shown on the documentary, the dig was undertaken, and authorised, on the understanding NO remains were extant at the site.


(Login lancasterman)

Re: Disrespect & DUG UP Remains

February 13 2010, 3:12 PM 

Also, how can you speak for all relatives saying 'if you were the brother or sister of P/O Kosh you'd feel different'. How do you know? How many sibilings of P/O Kosh have you spoken to? How many other members of the family have you, Adam, personally spoken to? How many relatives in a similar position have you spoken to? Being someone heavily involved with digs and the MoD, I know for a fact you are wrong.

(Login wanganui)

old story

February 14 2010, 6:07 AM 

This is a very old story which was fully reported on the news & national papers at the time. Why bring it up again, is this a personal vendetta?? If nothing else it makes Adam Flitter look petty. Profiteering from recovered remains?? Glass houses 18fl...
I could go on but i think the point has been made by previous forum members.

Adam Flitter
(Login bbsud)

Karls IP Address

February 14 2010, 9:38 AM 

Karl, Your IP matches one of those of Mr Saunders..... ?


(Login bbsud)

Remains removed from crash site.

February 14 2010, 7:44 AM 

"How come you and your brother are taking this so personally? 18fl (as were) had no problem selling uniform remains from a crash site on ebay about two years ago"

My father & brother have never sold uniform remains which have been removed from a dead pilot, that has been found in wreckage. That would just be sick and likened to 'Forgotten Hero' & 'Graverobbers'. Any digs we have taken part in have been closed & the authorities informed, had a body been found.

I wonder why so many members of the BOBHS left in disgust when the convicted person was finally allowed to join.

It seems you know nothing of the underhanded antics which have taken place. Just this morning we have been speaking to a person to whom he sold a Merlin to, for 20K. An aggrieved party was entitled to a share of this, but received nothing!. Yes...... we've spoken to a few digging groups and they're not at all happy that a dark shadow has been cast over this hobby, by the doing of one person.

My brother & father are contacting P/O Kosh's sister apparently so will let you know what happens with that.

(Login lancasterman)


February 14 2010, 12:10 PM 

Yes Adam, your brother/father (as '18fl') did in fact sell uniform scraps and pieces of flying clothing and parachute harness taken from a Halifax crash site about 2 to 3 years ago, on ebay. Both they and the items were discussed here to widespread disgust. However, as previously posted they could have been bought by them or scavenged by them - who cares? But they were sold, by 18fl, and with details of the crash site they were taken from. As such items can only have been on or around human remains, be they excavted by your family or not, selling them at all is just fucking sick.

If you have spoken to 'a few digging groups' about Mr Saunders they I can tell you flat that their views are unrepresentative of the majority. You clearly are not such a member of a group, I am. (and if you are trying to hint I am Andy Saunders, you are both pathetic and very far wrong).

As the case is so old, why are your brother and father trying to contact Pilot Officer Kosh's sister? To see if she has anything she'll sell them for the Military Trader website? Or to try and renew her pain by bringing the story to the forfront of her mind again?

How about confining your pathetic vendetta to the Military Trader website (after all thats what its there for) rather than trying to encroach on this one. Your family have a poor reputation here as do their dealings, and trying to stir up a very old and tired story for whatever reason is questionable. You should take the hint and realise you dont have the support here.


(Login bbsud)


February 14 2010, 1:57 PM 

'obvious' opinion is... that of the majority are disgusted etc, who wouldn't be? & it would be a heartless person that didn't feel pain for the family of PO Kosh.

My brother and father have never sold the items you mention, parachute harness & uniform frgments from a crash, and never had any dealings with body parts or unearthing items associated with them, let alone selling them.

This is an argument that can't be won, on here but the silent majority viewing this know their feelings. You've totally contradicted yourself when you mention renewing the pain for PO Kosh's sister, as you said she "wasn't that bothered" .

If you are part of the digging group then this is an argument that can't be won here without it degenerating into a slanging match.

You've fallen down by using profanity & swear words in this post in the hope that it gets hostile and accusatory.

The evidence is in the DVD for everyone to see and you're defeending yourself against the massive majority's opinion. Shame on you for disrespecting PO Kosh & the sister of PO Kosh, and shame on Mr Saunders.

Caveat Emptor.


(Login Laplander)
Forum Member

The Majority?

February 14 2010, 2:25 PM 

Adam, what makes you think you speak for the majority?

Fact: The government told the family that the body had been buried in 1944. Saunders had no reason to suspect remains were contained in the proposed crash site.

Fact: The family had no authority to give 'permission' to Saunders, nor did he need it from them - only from the government - which he had. if the government had suspected there were remains at the site, it is very doubtful they would have granted permission.

Fact: Saunders notified whatever family member it seems he was able to find of his intentions. Again, he did not need their permission to excavate the site.

fact: The TV bit even says that when he first encountered the remains he immediately stopped digging.

Fact: For a woman that was supposed to be so torn up by the events displayed in that obviously skewed TV segment, she sure didn't look all that concerned in the shots of her standing at the dig site as the work was going on.

Adam, in my opinion you need to take a step back and look at that video with some common sense and objectivity. Don't compare it to other videos or other cases - they have no bearing on this one. I have spent no little time on doing battlefield archeology on WW1 sites in the Argonne Forest. In the years I have been involved with the activity I have encountered many shady characters interested only in "stuff", and while I have never personally run across someone who admits to having done it, I know there are those out there who have uncovered remains on the battlefield, pilfered them for their "stuff", and then simply shoveled them back in the hole again. Saunders is not that kind of guy, judging by his long and positive reputation.

In the end, I'm afraid you need to gain some perspective before you present what you deem to be "The Truth" or presume to speak for the majority, because from what I have gathered you are far from representing the majority opinion on this subject.

The opinions expressed in this posting are MINE - take 'em or leave 'em - and are not meant to express those of anyone else, though I do believe that there are a great many who would agree with me.

Rob Laplander

(Login lancasterman)

Re: The Majority?

February 14 2010, 2:53 PM 

Adam, please do tell me where I said the sister of Pilot Officer Kosh 'wasnt that bothered' as you quote me, because I cant find it? Just another example of you getting your facts totally wrong again.

The members of this site obviously have longer and clearer memories than you do about what your father/brother sold, which was nothing less than sick profiteering.

Andy Saunders has a great deal of respect from not only other diggers, historians, enthusiasts and authors, but also from the MoD who continue to aid his research and license him to dig. Who are you to predict the feelings of others? You dont get the point continually made that the dig was undertaken on the understanding by Saunders, the MoD, and ultimately the family that no remains were extant, and where some were found they were handled correctly and handed to the authories. You have put your feelings across based on a biased, badly edited and old TV documentary, and others have expressed their opinions based on facts, some shown in the documentary and others known first hand. So why are you continuing to try and paint Andy Saunders as the bad guy when your own family have done far worse?

As 'Military Trader' have their own forum, how about taking this over there?


Chris K
(Premier Login AOC553)
Forum Owner

Locking Down This Thread

February 14 2010, 4:09 PM 

I'm locking this thread down. The topic comes up every few years and every few years it degenerates into something that drifts outside the scope of this forum.

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