Three crewmen died after plane crash in Donegal - today marks the 80th anniversary of WWII tragedy

Crew had to parachute out of plane as it ran out of fuel on return to Derry base before plunging into hillside

Plane crash

An Armstrong Whitworth Whitley MK V aircraft similar to the one that crashed in Donegal. Photo: Wikipedia

Today marks the 80th anniversary of a plane crash in Donegal that saw three World War II British Royal Air Force crewmen losing their lives and two others injured.

On January 24, 1941, an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley MK V aircraft from the 502 Ulster Squadron of the RAF took off from Limavady in Co. Derry.

They were tasked after a report that three ships had been torpedoed off the west of Ireland.
However, the crew became lost on their return from their mission and were running out of fuel in bad weather, and without radio communication.

They flew over the Aran Islands, and with Ireland being neutral during the war, then went up around the coast and out past Tory Island, before heading for Derry.

But the weather was bad, and they had communication problems.

Running out of fuel, yet so close to getting back to the Limavady airfield, at 9.30 pm that night they abandoned the aircraft.

Three of the crew landed in Lough Foyle, and drowned. The aircraft crashed into Glenard Hill, east of Buncrana.

In his book, Royal Air Force Coastal Command Losses of the Second World War, Vol 1: Aircraft and Crew Losses 1939-1941, Ross McNeill states that only one body, that of Pilot Officer, Edward Johnson was found.

The other two crewmen who died in the accident were Sgt. Lewis Greenwood and Sgt. James Hogg. The injured men were named as Flight Officer Leslie Ward and George Jefferson.

Extensive details on the incident have been recorded by Dennis Burke on the Foreign Landings Aircraft Landings in Ireland in WWII website.

See this Tuesday's Donegal Democrat/Donegal People's Press and Wednesday's Inish Times for the full story.

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