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Vickers Wellington, Waterford, February 1943

In the story of foreign aircraft crashes and landings in Ireland during World War Two, that which occurred on the 17th February 1943 stands out as being the last landing that resulted in the internment of an Allied crew.

On the evening of 16th February 1943 RAF Bomber crews across England prepared for a raid on the German U-boat pen base in the French City of Lorient.
At the base of Royal Canadian Air Force 427 Squadron, 9 crews prepared for the raid, including one manned by men from England and Scotland.  The pilot, Sergeant Holloway took off at 18:27 hours and made a successful attack on the target. On the return home however, things started to go wrong.

Chief Staff Officer,
G.2 Branch,
Department of Defence,

I have the honour to inform you that a British Wellington Bomber made a forced landing 2 mls. E. of Waterford at 01.30 hrs. on the 17th inst. The plane went on fire after crashing and was destroyed except for the rear turret. The crew of five Sergeants are safe and uninjured. They have been interned at the Curragh since 21.45 hrs. same date. Their names are:- Sergt. John Holloway, 1288562, 235, Court Road, Ethane, London S.E.9, Sergt. David Ross 1064822, Glenlossie, Hermitage Drive, Edinborough. Sergt. Frank Thomas, 1536438. 29, Regent St,, Earlstown, Newtown-Lee-Willows, Lancashire, Sergt. George Slater, 1365352, 148, Mornlngton Rd., Edinborough. . Sergt, Donald Taylor, 857301, Rolyate, Lee Road, Lincoln, The crew were not in possession of identity cards and only one carried his identity discs. Each N.C.O. carried a small waterproof packet which was sealed and contains bank notes (French, Belgium and Holland) a small compass and a piece of rubber inside of which was embedded a small hacksaw. I am forwarding these five packets to you herewith. I am also sending you the remains of a burnt map of England but beyond that there were no papers or documents which survived the flames. A map is also enclosed in each packet. It would appear that having completed a bombing raid on San Nazaire (France) and while returning to England the instruments, as the pilot, Sergt. Holloway, said “went haywire’ and he lost his direction. He cruised around for about an hour and petrol running low decided to crash land. But for striking a tree with his starboard wing he would have done this successfully and the plane would have sustained little damage. An officer from the Air Corps removed the guns from the rear turret and also the wireless set from the plane yesterday. Other parts can also be salvaged including, I believe one engine complete. On my way to the scene of the crash last evening I saw OVER/ : •1 orn iì., Ourragh. 18/2/43, Crash of Wellington Bomber 2 mis. E. of Watertord. C4.,41.# A ¿ .C.4a. bq..

Sgt John Edward HOLLOWAY 1266562 (Int) DoB 21 Feb 1921 20 O.T.U. – Pilot 131 Eglinton Hill, Plumstead, London Father and wife, Mr Robert J Holloway and Mrs PEARL VIOLET Holloway, 235 Court Road, Eltham. Parents, Robert John and Evelyn (Mande), from Baptism record. Sidcup Died 17 August 2011 in Kidlington, Oxfordshire OX5 or Buckingham, MK18.

Sgt David Eric Munroe ROSS 1064622 (Int) – Born 1920. Broke his ankle playing football in March 1944 and was transferred to Northern Ireland AIR20/1021 – Mr A Ross (father) Glenlosssie, hermitage Drive, Edinburgh. He married his wife, Dorothy M W Hallam in 1945 in Lancashire. Died December 26th, 2000, advised by his son Nigel Ross who himself died in December 2004.

Sgt Donald Hugh TAYLOR 657301 (Int)(Rel) 3 Jul 1916 – 20 O.T.U. – Bomb Aimer (Re-pat 27 Jan 1944) 28 Geneva Cresent, Darlington, Durham Father R E Taylor at Rolyat, Lee Road, Lincoln, Lincs, mother Coles In August 1941 he travelled to America from Canada via Detroit to undertake training at Alabama Aero. Inst. Tuscaloosa. He passed away in Manchester in October 1987.

Sgt George Chalmers SLATER 1365352 (Int) DoB 7 Dec 1921 – 20 O.T.U. – Wireless Operator Mr G Slater [father] 145 Morningside Road, Edinburgh Married April 1, 1955. Died 8 April 2002 in Wick, Scotland. Son of George Slater and Elizabeth Slater.

Sgt Frank THOMAS 1536438 (Int)(Rel)" DoB 31 Aug 1921 – 20 O.T.U. – Air Gunner (re-pat November 1943) 9 Regent St, Newton-Le-Willows, Lancs [Mother Mrs. A Thomas]

Slater evasion report states: We took off from CROFT in a Wellington aircraft on 17 Feb 1943 at 1830 hrs on a bombing trip to Lorient. On the return journey to base it was not possible to get satisfactory loop bearings. We made landfall at 0030 hrs, 18 Feb, and crash-landed owing to shortage of petrol. We landed in a field near WATERFORD, Co. WATERFORD, EIRE. I was arrested by the police and interned in the CURRAGH Camp until 16 Oct and at GORMANSTOWN until 15 July 44, when I was sent to the UK.

Compiled by Dennis Burke, July 2020, Dublin and Sligo.

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