WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

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WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Termite » Wed Nov 18, 2015 4:11 am

The Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA — A conversation 34 years ago convinced Morton Hurston Jr. there is buried treasure in Central Louisiana, and he thinks he’s found it. One thing stands in the way of him finding out for sure: government permission.

Under the yellow clay soil of the Kisatchie National Forest, Hurston said he believes, is all manner of World War II equipment — tanks, halftrack vehicles, trucks, jeeps and even P-40 fighter planes packed in their original shipping crates.
Hurston, of Baton Rouge, calls this a virtual gold mine of a time capsule, a potential source of exhibits for museums and other military displays. The P-40s, packed in corrosion preventative, might be in mint condition.

“There are only six P-40s flying in the world,” he said. “This could be a very significant historic site.”

Hurston believes the equipment was buried in 1943 at Camp Claiborne, an Army facility north of Forest Hill in Rapides Parish used during World War II, mostly for basic training and artillery practice. Camp Claiborne closed in 1948 and, except for signs on La. 112, little of it remains today....


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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby PawPaw » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:03 pm

I drive through Claiborne ever weekend on my way to the wax-bullet range.

He may be right that stuff is buried out there, but the AF dropped a lot of ordnance there during the '50s and '60s. The AF still uses it for bombing practice. Generally inert bombs, but you still don't want to be out there when they're making runs.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby MarkD » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:41 pm

Can someone explain to me why they'd have buried what I assume would have been usable equipment in 1943, while the war was still going on? I guess maybe the P40 was superceded by the P51, but tanks and half tracks?

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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby PawPaw » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:00 pm

I've heard those rumors over the years, but the way I heard it was that they were buried after the war, circa 1947. At that time, the vehicles were outdated, about to be replaced with newer stock, and the powers-that-be didn't want them on the market, simply because the economy needed the boost of new production as we transitioned from a war economy to a peacetime economy.

Whatever, those rumors have been rumbling around here for years. I doubt their veracity, but it's interesting campfire talk.

Central Louisiana had a huge wartime presence, with Camp Claiborne, Camp Livingston, Esler Army Air Field, Camp Beauregard, England Army Air Field, and Camp Polk. Of that complex, only two survive to this day. Camp Beauregard is a National Guard Camp, and Fort Polk is home to the Joint Readiness Training Center.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby JustinR » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:07 pm

If there are really P-40's in crates there, I'd drive over to help dig them up. That's really a big find.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Termite » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:51 pm

PawPaw wrote:Central Louisiana had a huge wartime presence, with Camp Claiborne, Camp Livingston, Esler Army Air Field, Camp Beauregard, England Army Air Field, and Camp Polk. Of that complex, only two survive to this day. Camp Beauregard is a National Guard Camp, and Fort Polk is home to the Joint Readiness Training Center.

Pollock Army Auxiliary Airfield also.

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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Aesop » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:36 am

It sounds like campfire ghost stories.

Dig up an actual few crated P-40s capable of restoration and flying, and I'll send a check to help the build effort.

I'm betting what there actually was, was a lot of vehicles buried in a common trench, and rusting into hunks of orange goo for 70 years in the mud and sand.
The ones they didn't use for gunnery practice on tank ranges, or sell for cash to third world dictators and such.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Steamforger » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:41 am

Camp Villere is still open?

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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby PawPaw » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:51 am

Steamforger wrote:Camp Villere is still open?
Yeah, I beleive that there is an NG recruiting office there. As is Fort Humbug, a civil war fort that houses an NG Battalion. The unit I retired from was housed at Humbug.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby randy » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:27 am

There is a similar ongoing search for 140 crated Spitfires allegedly buried in Burma at the end of WWII. Nothing of significance found so far.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Dinochrome One » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:34 am

When I was first assigned to Adak (AK) in 1980, the war-time debris was everywhere; trucks, bulldozers, chunks of misc. aircraft, even complete abandoned power-plants. The told us that the Army had just left everything in place after "demil-ing" it; vehicles had been lined up on the tundra and had their engines run to destruction after draining the oil. At the north power-plant, the mechanics just dropped their tools and left at the end of the war, leaving the building to rot and the big Diesel generators to weather and rust. Only the personnel had been taken home after the war.

Before the end of my first tour, I had collected plenty of bronze antenna hardware and many large ceramic insulators left over from the burned radio communication complex. That stuff was shipped with my personal effects and brought good money at a Ham-fest in St. Louis.

On my second tour, all of that stuff was gone; the Navy had brought in a contractor to clean up the island. All of the old vehicles and equipment had been bulldozed into a big ravine and buried. All that was left were the hundreds of depressions in the hills where the tents and Quonset huts had been.

Check Adak on Google-Earth; the modern buildings are still being used by the Alaska Fish and Wildlife Agency and a big commercial fishing company. The Navy is gone, leaving only crumbling concrete buildings and the outline of the Wullen-Webber HFDF antenna.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Langenator » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:07 pm

I'm sure there were similar situations on islands all over the Pacific, and any other location where the only reason our troops were there was to make sure the enemy couldn't go there. Places we bailed out of as soon as the shooting stopped.

Equipment burned, buried, thrown in the lake/river/lagoon/bay, or just left to rot. Hauling it home would have cost a pretty penny, and for whatever reason they didn't want to sell or give it to the locals. In places where there were locals. Not many of those in Adak.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Rumpshot » Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:04 am

Former neighbor, across the street, WWII vet. Army mechanic in the Pacific. Jeep would roll in for new plugs or an oil change, he would pull the engine, throw it into a pit and put in a new engine. Faster than the maintenance. At least that is what he told me.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby toad » Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:59 am

Apparently P-40's were manufactured till the end off the war. It didn't have the altitude capability for the Northern European theater but it made a very good ground attack aircraft esp. in the Mediterranean Theatre. In its performance altitude it could out run and out turn a BF109. The BF109 could out climb it. The Germans were used to being able to out dive their opponents but that didn't work with the P-40. It turned out that due to the P-40's modular construction it was easier to work on and had a high degree of flight readiness in the Mediterranean theatre. As one Aussie pilot said, "When I got tired of messing with the Krauts, I'd just runaway from them."
When they got used to it they found out they could out turn a Zero if they kept the speed range up. At slow speed the Zero's large ailerons would let it out turn about anything. On the P40 the found out if you put the nose down when you started the turn and the Zero tried to turn at the higher closing speed the Zero pilot couldn't over come the resistance on his aileron sat the higher speed to tighten the turn. Anyway Yada, Yada, I'd like some P-40's for Christmas. They would be great for border patrol.

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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Netpackrat » Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:08 pm

I believe the Russians used a bunch of them, although they preferred the P-39 due to the large cannon making it a good ground attack aircraft.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby toad » Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:51 pm

The Russians used them but they had problems with them. The engines required more refined oil and gas than the Russians had available, also Russian pilots tended to use War Emergency throttle all the time and so burned out the engines quickly. An ex Naval aviator that I new who trained on the same field they were at said they'd use war emergency even for take off and wouldn't give the engine time to warm up. Didn't know weather that was official communist party standard or just Russian character.

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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Langenator » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:23 pm

Russian character, or maybe Soviet Russian character. Soviet (communist) workers were never known for taking good care of equipment, of any sort. After all, it's not theirs, and it's not coming out of their paycheck if they break it. So let's meet quota as fast as possible and get back to vodka.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby Old Grafton » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:24 pm

Not a character issue as such; just poorly trained testosterone-laden teenagers with high-horsepower hotrods. I was young once, too.
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Re: WWII vehicles might be buried in Louisiana

Postby toad » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:56 pm

Yeah, I wasted my youth when I was young.


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