WATCH: Spitfire crash in Donegal recalled - pilot parachuted to safety

First iconic RAF fighter plane to crash in Donegal in World War II was excavated many years later

Back in November 1941, a Royal Air Force, Supermarine Spitfire Mk. II crashed in Donegal.

It was flown by Roland L Wolfe, an American volunteer flying in the Royal Air Force 133 (Eagle) Squadron, one of three Squadron’s manned by pilots from the United States.

He found himself in difficulty after a patrol mission and was forced to abandon his aircraft over Donegal. He made a crash landing on a hill at Moneydarragh in Inishowen. He had been trying to return to RAF Eglinton in Co. Derry, but had to bail out.

The Times newspaper reported that Pilot Officer Wolfe "made a parachute landing from a fighter aeroplane on the west side of Lough Foyle." it also reported that the pilot was taken to hospital in Letterkenny.

He was subsequently arrested and sent to Curragh Detention Prison. He was released two years later, and flew with his squadron once again.

It was the first of a number of Spitfires that crashed in Donegal during World War II.

The loss of the aircraft was widely reported both at the time and then later again almost 70 years after when the remains of his aircraft were excavated.

In June, 2011, Johnny McNee leds a team to recover the remains of the aircraft.

Video footage of the excavation was shot at the time by Guardian Films.

With the help of the Irish Army, they recovered six Browning Machine guns, with one thousand bullets.

He also fought in the Korea War, and Vietnam War, and flew a roughly over 800 missions in his life time.

During World War II (1939-1945) all German crews who landed in Ireland were interned.

Allied crews, mainly British and Commonwealth airmen, were interned in most cases, particularly in 1940 and 1941.

But from 1942 onward a process was followed where by only those airmen flying operational missions would be interned. And even this was not very strictly followed as no members of the RAF's Coastal Command patrol aircraft were interned during this later war period.

More more details on this incident see Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland - WW2

 

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