SPITFIRE PILOT’S HELMET FOUND IN DONEGAL TO BE UNVEILED

first_imgAn iconic piece of military history found in Donegal will be unveiled this weekend.The flying helmet of World War II American fighter pilot Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe will be put on public display for the first time having undergone a lengthy conservation process since its recovery during the excavation of his Spitfire in Inishowen in 2011.The unveiling will take place at at the Guildhall this Saturday, July 18, as part of a series of special events taking place in Derry celebrating local archaeology and genealogy.The long lost crash site of this historic fighter was discovered by Claudy man Jonny McNee and his daughter Grace who will both be at the Guildhall on Saturday for the unveiling. The remarkably well preserved Rolls Royce Merlin engine from Bud’s Spitfire can also be seen on display in the nearby Tower Museum. Jonny published his book “The Story of the Donegal Spitfire” in 2012, which details how he finally tracked down the Spitfire, which had lain undiscovered deep in a remote mountain bog near Gleneely, since 1941.Bud was an American volunteer pilot flying with 133 Eagle Squadron (RAF) who were based for a short period in 1941 at RAF Eglinton. On 30th November, the young Nebraskan pilot took off for a routine convoy patrol flight off the Donegal coast when his engine began to seriously overheat. Unable to make it back to his base he chose to bail out from his aircraft, serial number P8074. He landed safely near Gleneely in Donegal and was interned for a period of time. On his release in 1943, Bud transferred to the US Army Air Force and flew with the 78th Fighter Group until the end of the war, he also later served in Korea and Vietnam. He passed away in Miami in 1994.It was a lengthy process to investigate the history of this plane and the rumoured whereabouts of its final resting place. However in 2011 Jonny and Grace managed to find local eyewitness who assisted in narrowing down the location of the crash site. Further detailed studies with detection equipment finally pinpointed the exact spot. In June 2011 Jonny was given the necessary permissions by the archaeological authorities in the Republic of Ireland and the MOD (UK) to attempt the first licensed excavation of a WW2 aircraft anywhere on the island of Ireland. The recovery was filmed by the BBC NI as part of the groundbreaking series ‘Dig WW2” which transmitted in 2012.He recalls: “There were many highs and lows and sleepless nights in undertaking this project. The remote location of the crash site, the waterlogged nature of the deep peat and the endless red tape of form filling often made me wonder was I wise to attempt this. However those dark hours are easily forgotten when I look back on my memories of being able to meet Bud’s two daughters, Betty and Barbara and their extended family circle, who travelled from the US to Derry to launch the museum display in 2011.“My personal highlight was firing the last burst of ammunition through one of the Browning machine guns I recovered during the dig. The weapons were cleaned and restored under the expert care of the Irish Defence Force. To witness and hear this weapon fire after it all it had been through was incredible – archaeology doesn’t get much better than that!”Curator with Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Museums Services, Roisin Doherty, said the team at the Museum were thrilled to be able to unveil the piece to the public.“When the Donegal Spitfire first hit the headlines a few years ago it really caught the imagination of the public, and drew attention to the North West’s strategic military role during the Second World War.“The unveiling of the helmet is another chapter in this fascinating story, and we are delighted to be able to show it to the public this weekend, and welcome Jonny and his daughter back to the Guildhall to share their role in its discovery.“I would encourage everyone to come along and take part in Saturday’s celebration of all things historical, and find out more about tracing their own family history, or local history in general.”The School of Irish Archaeology (SIA) will also facilitate a mock dig for children in Guildhall Square on Saturday from 11am. This unique dig is a practical hands-on and fun event for children allowing them to explore the world of archaeology and the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a real life Indiana Jones.There will be an archaeology information fair in the main hall of the Guildhall with heritage and archaeology experts providing information on becoming involved in archaeology. The Guildhall will also host a display of Spitfire P8074 items along with other archaeological artefacts from WW1 & WW2.The Tower Museum throws open its doors for an Archive and Genealogy Open Day with information and advice in tracing your roots. A special tour and talk has been organized in the Museum on ‘La Trinidad Valencera – an Armada Shipwreck’ which will be delivered at 2.30pm by Dave Atherton, diver from the City of Derry Sub-Aqua Club.Visitors to the museum will also have the chance to meet the author of the book ‘An Irish Colleen travels abroad, Anne L. Drabczyk who will be signing copies of her work from 12noon to 5pm. Entry to the museum on the day will be £1.The Archaeology Day will take place on Saturday 18th July from 10am-5pm, with the Big Dig sessions, each lasting 45 minutes, running from 11am – 5pm.SPITFIRE PILOT’S HELMET FOUND IN DONEGAL TO BE UNVEILED was last modified: July 16th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Bud WolfedonegalGleneelyInishowenSpitfirelast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>