Spitfire Mk1

RAF Serial: P9373

92 (East India)Squadron

Pilot: Sgt Paul Klipsch (killed)

Date: 23 May 1940

Place: Wierre-Effroy, France

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Photos: Peter Arnold and Simon Parry

Nostalgia for some of the regular team! One of our first excavations to feature on TV was a Spitfire for Channel 4’s long-running archaeology series ‘Time Team’.


The subject was a Spitfire shot down during the battle for Dunkirk. The crash site of Paul Klipsch’s Spitfire was first located by the late Alan Brown and his wife. The pair spent their holidays touring Europe in their psychedelically painted VW camper van searching for aircraft wrecks.


Regular Time Team member Guy de la Beédoyère had approached Steve Vizard at that time with a proposal to feature a Spitfire recovery in a future programme. Steve thought that Alan’s discovery might make a particularly interesting topic and the long road to making the idea a reality began.


Over the classic ‘three-day formula' Tony Robinson and his team unearthed much of the aircraft. As a finale, display pilot Charlie Brown flew Guy Black’s Mark V Spitfire BM597 over the site in tribute to Paul Klipsch.


Sergeant Paul Klipsch

Paul was born in Crosby, Lancashire, in 1916. Although his name was of German origin, his father’s family had been in Britain for three generations and his father had been in the Royal Flying Corps in WW1. In the 1920s his parents divorced; his father emigrated to Australia and his mother later re-married. Paul’s step-father was Reginald Wynn Owen, a widower who had three children of his own, Ruth, Elaine and Eric.

Paul joined the RAF in 1933 and trained to be an aircraft fitter at Horton and served pre-war in Palestine and Egypt. When war was declared all three men of the family took up arms: Paul was selected for pilot training and was posted as a Spitfire pilot to No. 92 Squadron in February 1940. His younger step-brother Eric joined the army and later fought in the Normandy landings. His step-father Reginald served in the Home Guard alongside comedy writer Jimmy Perry who wrote the comedy series Dad’s Army; it is said that Jimmy Perry based the character of the platoon’s first-aider Godfrey on Reg.