Spitfire IIa P8074

Spitfire IIa

A Spitfire from an Irish bog.

Spitfire IIa P8074
‘Garfield Weston 1′
133 (Eagle) Squadron
P/O Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe baled out
Crashed 30th November 1941
Glenshinny mountain, Co Donegal, Ireland

 

 

American volunteer pilot ‘Bud’ Wolfe was flying from RAF Eglinton (now City of Derry Airport) on a convoy patrol when his engine began to overheat. He turned back for Eglinton, in a ‘permitted corridor’ that took him over neutral Eire. Just three minutes short of crossing the border into Northern Ireland the Merlin seized and Bud had no choice but to bales out.
P8074 buried itself in a bog on the top of a mountain and Bud was interned in Eire and ended up in the Curragh prison camp. Life was comfortable and the ‘prisoners’ were allowed out into the town so long as they signed a form saying they would come back!
After America entered the war following Pearl Harbor, Bud decided it was time to return to the war. On December 13th he caught a train from Dublin to Belfast and by the afternoon he was back with his squadron.
However, a political storm erupted over the affair and the neutral government of Eire threatened to withdraw the parole terms enjoyed by the other Allied internees – unless Bud Wolfe went back to the Curragh. A week later he was back in prison. Only in October 1943 did the southern Irish authorities return all Allied combatants.

The crash site of P8074 lay in a remote peat bog and was located more by good fortune than anything else. Its discovery coincided with the filming of the BBC ‘World War II Unearthed’ series being made by Derry based production company 360 Productions. The excavation was both unique and difficult, but contractors Kearney Plant Hire agreed to undertake the operation using two 24 ton tracked excavators – the second being used mainly to ‘anchor’ the first to stop it sliding into the bog while digging. A 500 metre long trackway was made and the two diggers ‘walked’ on bog mats to the site.
By the end of the day the entire fuselage had been recovered, the engine and six browning machine-guns. The Irish Army took away the guns and ammunition with the idea that they would be cleaned and displayed, but the condition of one was so good that it it was decided to return it fully working order and it was actually fired again.

The BBC news item, including the dig and test firing the gun.

Buy Jonny McNee’s book ‘The Donegal Spitfire’.

 

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