Death on a Saturday night

A short while ago, we wrote about the arrival of a new artifact to the Castle, namely the tail wheel from a Second World War bomber. Since then, we’ve been researching.

At 2345 on Saturday, October 11 1941 observers at Look Out Post 15 at Forlorn Point, Kilmore Quay, county Wexford heard the sound of “an aircraft moving north, three miles east”. The sound of the aircraft was logged by Gardaí stationed at Taghmon, Clonroche, Ballywilliam and Kilanne. Ten minutes after being recorded by the Forlorn Head LOP, Garda McKenna of Kiltealy Garda Station heard “a plane travelling north, low and fast”. Soon after he “saw a light and heard an explosion on the mountain” west of the village.

Earlier that night a Heinkel He 111H-6 took off from a Luftwaffe airfield in occupied France. On board were four crew members: Lieutenant Tickemann (pilot); Feldwebel Wilhelm Bohmer (observer); Gefrieter Erfield Kolwe (wireless operator/air gunner); and Obergefrieter Hans Szuflita (flight engineer/air gunner). The men were members of the 7th Staffel (squadron) of the 3rd Gruppe of Kampfgeschwader 40, 7./KG40 or III./KG40 for short. Employed in the anti-shipping role, their mission that night was to seek out and destroy ships in the Irish Sea. It was this aircraft, given the code F8+ER, which crashed in the Blackstairs Mountains.

Rescuers reached the crash site at 0145, but by then it was too late for the crew. An inquest held on October 13 found that three of the four crew had die from multiple injuries, while the fourth “had burned to death”. Survival was, in any event, unlikely. The “engines, undercarriage and rear end of the fuselage were torn off”, with “small pieces of the aircraft scattered…over an area of 180 yards on the mountainside”, though the fuselage “aft of the lower and upper gun positions” with the tail unit were not very badly damaged. The engines were wedged in holes in the rocks on the mountain. Its bomb load- one 500lb bomb and four 250lb bombs- were thrown clean and did not explode; they were later defused by the Irish Army.

In the aftermath of the crash, F8+ER almost claimed another victim, when “[t]he body of the aircraft suddenly turned over and struck Gunner O’Reilly”, rendering him unconscious and requiring his removal to hospital at New Ross. 

One day after the inquest, the four men were buried with full military honours at Rathnure, where they remained until the opening of the German Military Cemetery at Glencree, county Wicklow in the early 1960s.

 

References:

Enniscorthy Guardian, October 18 1941

Binions, Gloria (1997) Rathnure and Kilanne: A Local History 85-89

 

With thanks to:

Tony Kearns

Patrick Cummins

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2 Responses to Death on a Saturday night

  1. john coady says:

    do you know where the crash site is

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