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Irish Memorial to Canadian Airmen

In September the Canadian Vindicator recorded the poignant story of a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran who returned to the site of his aircraft's crash in Ireland during the Second World War, a crash in which three of his comrades were killed.

In October a memorial ceremony commemorated five other Canadians whose lives were lost in January 1944 when their Halifax aircraft crashed on Roguey cliffs overlooking Tullan Strand in County Donegal.

In both cases a prominent role was played by local Irvinestown historian, Breege McCusker, and by indefatigable Belleek historian, Joe O'Loughlin, who acted as master of ceremonies for the event at which a memorial plaque was unveiled.

The crew were part of Meteorological Squadron 518 based at Tiree in Scotland. The plane's communications system failed, it lost fuel, and the pilot tried to make a landing on the golf course at Bundoran. The plane hit the cliffs, and part of it fell into the sea. All eight airmen on board were killed. Five were members of the Canadian Royal Air Force., and two of their bodies were not recovered. The other three received burial at Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh..

Relatives of the crash victims visited the scene two years ago, and arrangements were put in train to erect a memorial honouring the dead airmen. The plaque, draped with the Canadian flag, was unveiled by Mrs. Louise Williams, sister of Vladimir Adamic, and by Mrs. Marion Dawson-Murphy, widow of Fred Dawson, the two men whose bodies were not recovered from the sea.

Other members of the air crew were W/O Frank Ash, P/O Norman Gzowski, Sgt Donald Hewitson, Sgt Frederick Hussey, F/O Clarence Scott and W/O Lloyd Upshall, Skipper.

Prayers were recited by Rev Alan Ward, Chaplain, Finner Camp; Rev Ramon Munster C.C., Ballyshannon, and Canon Robin Richey, Church of Ireland (Rtd.).

Breege McCusker and Joe O'Loughlin were thanked by Colonel Michel Legault who represented the Canadian government for their efforts in ensuring the success of the ceremony. Colonel Legault also presented them with an inscribed medallion.

Officers and men from the nearby Irish Army's Finner Camp were present, the Last Post sounded, the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada", was sung, and the Canadian Maple Leaf was flown over the waters off Roguey by an Irish air sea rescue helicopter.

Once again links between Canada and Ireland were strengthened in a unique and touching ceremony.

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