day the plane came down
Despite the passage of time, air crash landings in Clare
during World War II are still recalled, sixty years on.
However, for those who were too young to remember or were
not around at that time, the new Landfall Ireland publication
tells all there is to know about the various aircraft which
crash landed in Clare during that time. The 152 page publication
gives a detailed account of all Allied and German aircraft
which ended their journeys for various reasons in different
parts of Ireland.
Its author is Ennis born Donal McCarron, who was a
teenage volunteer in the Local Defence Forces (LDF) in Ireland
in 1941. An established military and aviation historian,
Donal is also a regular contributor to international aviation
journals and An Cosantoir, the Irish Defence Journal. He
is also author of books recounting the stories of the Irish
Air Corps and Irelands Emergency Army.
Born in Ennis in 1927, Donal lived in Sandfield House with
his parents. His Co Fermanagh born father was a Garda Inspector
based in Ennis at that time and when promoted to superintendent
he opened a number of garda stations in West Clare during
the war years.
Donal attended school in the CBS and studied civil engineering
and architecture at UCD. His godmother was the well-known
Sister Nicholas Griffey, who was a native of the Market,
Ennis. Later on in life her work for the underprivileged
in Dublin was recognised by the Clare Association in Dublin,
who named her their Person of The Year. She has since died.
Now living in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, Donal
was stationed in Lahinch as part of the Local Defence Forces
on July 10, 1943 when the USAAF B-24 Liberator plane Travellin
Trollop crash landed on the beach. He returned to
the Clare seaside resort in 1993 and spoke at the unveiling
of a plaque to mark the 50th anniversary of the crash landing.
Some of the other surviving crew members also revisited
Lahinch for that celebration.
In Landfall Ireland, Donal tells how during the war years,
1939-1945, some 220 belligerent aircraft of all descriptions,
both Allied and German, came down in this country, some
by accident, some by mistake and some by design.
Many of the incidents were tragic while others were comic.
However, all were dramatic in their own way.
The book is fully illustrated with 168 photographs and because
of censorship, many of the local dramas recorded would still,
60 years later, be news to many. The book also gives an
interesting insight into the nature of Irish neutrality
during this period.
The cover photograph is of an artists impression of
the Travellin Trollop.
On that misty morning, the author of Landfall Ireland saw
the aircraft circling over Lahinch.
A USAAF B-24 was also seen and shortly afterwards there
was a resounding bump when theTravellin Trollop
hit the beach. The B-24 Liberator had taken off from Maine
to a position at Gander for its transatlantic journey to
Prestwick. On its way the weather turned out to be worse
than forecast and for the first part of the journey the
two pilots had to fly on instruments. At the point of no
return, fuel started to leak and this was compounded by
the radio and compass packing up. The pilots took the plane
up to 16,000 feet to allow the navigator get a fix from
the stars which showed that they were over 100 miles south
of their proper course. Corrections were made but still
they were off course. Still in the clouds, they were unaware
that they were over the concrete runways at Rineanna (Shannon)
and eventually they crash landed on Lahinch beach.
A large number of regular army and LDF troops, who were
stationed in a nearby training camp, converged on the plane
almost before it stopped shuddering. The airmen were welcomed
and given a breakfast in the camp. They were allowed sleep
and, after questioning, were entertained in the hotels and
bars in Lahinch. Afterwards they were handed over at the
border after a hectic 72 hours.
Some days later, the Air Corps salvage team retrieved the
engines, guns and various instruments which were also dispatched
However, not everything was returned from the plane, despite
the presence of an armed guard. Several cylinders of scarce
oxygen somehow ended up with the local medical and engineering
practitioners. This was accomplished by native ingenuity
when the salvage team and soldiers had to retreat from the
incoming tides which regularly semi-submerged the crashed
plane. On night time tide, a church glided towards to tail
end of the aircraft and the rowers gained access and took
the oxygen away together with special tools provided by
the USAAF. However, the tools were quickly retrieved by
the local police on a no names, no pack drill
The crew of the Travellin Trollop turned out
to be more durable in a new B-24 than in their original
aircraft. They joined the 389th Bombardment Group of the
8th Air Force and survived at a time when this daylight
bombing force was suffering its worst casualties.
Donal McCarron says that the Lahinch crew were well above
average and became a lead crew heading their
group on many missions.
The Lahinch landing became known as the day the plane
came down and is still talked about.
Landfall Ireland also recalls another forced landing, this
time in Ballyvaughan. The author tells of how the United
States has been re-arming somewhat leisurely before the
Japanese struck Pearl Harbour. The pace of mobilisation
quickened in all services the surprise attack and nowhere
more so than in the Air Corps. Many NCOs mainly staff,
were now given an opportunity for pilot training. One of
them was Arthur L Brodhed, who did his training in California
before being promoted and posted to the 95th Fighter Squadron
in Europe, which was part of the 82nd Fighter Group. After
some time in Northern Ireland the group flew its P-38 Lightning
twin-boom fighters over to St Eval in Cornwall as a jumping
off point for Oran in Morocco. In groups of four, the Lightnings
took off following a twin-engined B-25 acting as a navigator.
Over the Bay of Biscay they were surprised by a dozen Ju88
fighters on their regular beat giving cover to U-boats travelling
in the Atlantic.
After a hectic dogfight, Brodhead found himself alone in
an empty sky and headed back to St Eval. Disorientated after
his first taste of combat, he soon became completely lost.
His long-range drop tanks had been jettisoned in the combat
and with fuel ebbing from his main tanks, a landing became
Luckily, he spotted a beach whose grey granule sand absorbed
an excellent wheels-up landing. He came down in Ballyvaughan
on the south side of Galway Bay where the LDF assisted him
from his cockpit and arrested him. The army later came to
collect him. The author was also present on that occasion
to examine the undamaged plane.
Elsewhere throughout the book there is a picture of a crew
setting out to reconnoitre the crash site of a Sunderland
plane off the coast of Clare. There is also a picture of
Rineanna (Shannon Airport) showing a full complement of
Hurricane planes which equipped the Air Corps Fighter
Another picture features an all blue PRU Spitfire Mk XIX
which force landed in Spanish Point. This aircraft as a
preproduction Spitfire Mk XIX which had been used at Farnborough
a year earlier for high-speed dive tests. During one test,
propeller and part of the engine were torn away at almost
Mach 1, but the pilot succeeded in gliding back and landing.
It is one of Donal McCarrons principal achievement
that his superb writing in Landfall Ireland brings these
years to life again - the camaraderie and the suffering,
the fear and the fun, the laughter and the tears.
Courtesy of the Clare Champion