Yesterday (Thursday) marked the 75th anniversary of a World War II plane crash in Donegal involving an aircraft that made a forced landing on a beach.

On May 10, 1943, the United States Air Force Boeing B-17F-25-DL Fortress made a “belly landing” on Tullan Strand, Bundoran, after it ran out of fuel on a flight from Gander in Newfoundland, Canada, bound for Prestwick in Scotland.

The 10 crew members were met by guests from a nearby hotel and were dispatched across the border shortly afterwards, in accordance with the neutrality policy championed by the Irish state.

The aircraft was dismantled and also sent across border into Northern Ireland by truck.

Details of the episode have been recorded by Sligo based aviation historian Dennis Burke, who has an extensive knowledge of World War II plane crashes in Ireland.

POWs

According to his information, the crew went on to 379th Bomb Group and eight of them were either killed in action or became POW’s in the following months.

One crew member, Harry X Ford, visited Donegal in 1993 and published a book in 2010, named ‘Mud, Wings and Wire’ (pictured) which recalls his experiences in Ireland and then in Germany as a POW.

According to Burke, Ford actually visited the wrong town, Portnablagh, initially, when he came back to Ireland.

He went to the north Donegal seaside resort on the basis of enquires which led to some people in the county recalling the landing of a British Hudson aircraft in June 1942 in Portnablagh.

The USAAF official report gives the location of the crash as being north of Bundoran but the Irish Army archive reports clearly point out it was in Bundoran.

The aircraft that crash landed had a “Bugs Bunny” illustration on its fuselage. Indeed, it was quite common for aircraft to have “nose art” painted on them during World War II.

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