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Handley Page Halifax EB134, Ryehill, Co. Galway, November 1943

On the night of November 7th/8th, 1943, the air war over over skies of Europe made a brief and devastating visit to the people of Lavally, outside of Tuam in Galway. A large four engine Handley Page Halifax bomber of the Royal Air Force crashed into farmland in the Townland of Ryehill. The aircraft was completely destroyed and its crew of seven killed.

The aircraft had been on a night training exercise with 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) out of Rufforth in Yorkshire. The crew were diverted to land at another airfield but for reasons unknown, they became lost and their final landing was to be in the low hills of Lavally outside of Tuam. There loss would be just one of the frighteningly high losses suffered during training missions. As many 8000 aircrew were lost on training accidents.

The crash of this aircraft, Halifax EB134 and the stories of its crew, was researched by Tuam historian Anne Tierney in 2006/07. This work culminated then in the publication of an article in the Journal of the Old Tuam Society in 2006 and the unveiling of a memorial near the crash site in August 2007.

One can find details of how to get a copy of JOTS 3, 2006 at the Old Tuam Society Website. On the day of the unveiling there were available to visitors a detailed 39 page booklet with lots of additional details.

Below are some photos taken during the unveiling in 2007, to give some idea of the touching ceremony laid on by the Lavally Community.

And so, the men of Halifax EB134 are remembered, as a crew, in the same way that they met their fate, together.

The above video was created at the time of the 2007 commemoration with those involved listed in the credits.

F/Sgt Allan Stewart Johnston 409125 RAAF, Pilot

Sgt Robert Mair Clark 1051117, Navigator

F/Sgt George Hilton Sansome 423386 RAAF, Bomb Aimer

Sgt Anthony Joseph Gallagher 410595 RAAF, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

                H Wildman

Sgt Leslie Harold Wildman 1158064, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Sgt Edgar William Camp 1605423, Flight Engineer

W/O Norman William Gardner R/65741 RCAF, Air Gunner (Seeking to contact relatives)

All images courtesy of Anne Tierney, the Wildman family and the Australian National Archives.

Crash Location
The crash location, marked for the day of the commemoration with a flag.

One can review the casualty and service files for the three Australian airmen above at the Australian national Archives website, Recordsearch facility. Simply click on the link, go to the Recordsearch link on the left hand side of the screen, chose search method and then enter the 6 digit service numbers shown above. (Instructions as per August 2007)
Australian National Archives

Tony McHugh, Lavally,
                introduces the EB134 Ceremony

Tony McHugh, Lavally, introduces the EB134 Ceremony

Irish Air Corps

The five ship fly past of Irish Air Corps Pilatus PC-9 trainers.

Local EB134

Part of the superb efforts carried out by Anne and Pat, Lavally National School children prepared a model of the ill-fated aircraft, along with the many wall mounted displays.

Irish Air Corps

A final fly past by four of the aircraft.

Following the unveiling of the memorial by Dorothy Clarke, sister of Robert M. Clarke, and her daughter, the last remaining aircraft passes the memorial. The monument's representation of EB134 points stationary to the crash site, a few fields away.

Removal of the flag

The tricolour is removed by members of the Irish Army 54th Field Artillery Regiment.


Wreathes laid at the memorial by the veterans associations.

Colour Party

Tony McHugh and Anne Tierney watched on by the colour parties of the Irish Army and the Royal Air Forces Association.

With special thanks to Anne Tierney, for researching this incident and for, along with the people of Lavally, taking these strangers into your hearts after all these years and giving them a fitting remembrance.

Compiled by Dennis Burke, 2020