Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

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Paddy Casey
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Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by Paddy Casey » Tue Nov 18, 2008 10:04 am

The Clare Library has just published two more sets of gravestone transcriptions in its series "Donated Material: Graveyard Inscriptions & Mortuary Cards" (see http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclar ... graves.htm ). The new transcriptions are from the Miltown Malbay Church of Ireland graveyard (36 records donated by Colin & Maria Trickett, Cyprus) and the Feakle graveyard (1279 records donated by Tom McDowell, UK).

Among the Miltown Malbay transcriptions are four records of Royal Air Force aircrew who all died on 3rd December 1941. Three are named as

933498 Sergeant MWG FOX
Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner
Royal Air Force 3rd December 1941 aged 20

522263 Sergeant S J EPPS
Wireless Operator / Airgunner
Royal Air Force 3rd December 1941 aged 25

904349 Ldg Aircraftman F W LEA
Royal Air Force 3rd December 1941 aged 21

but one of the buried has no name, being listed as:

AN AIRMAN OF THE 1939-1945 WAR
Royal Air Force 3rd December 1941

This suggested to me that these were not local boys who were brought back home for burial but the crew of an airplane, presumably on an Atlantic or transatlantic mission, which crashed in the vicinity. As service records were usually meticulously kept it is curious that one of the four could not be named.

A web search reveals that on December 3 1941 a Short Sunderland crashed at sea off Doonbeg, NR Carrowmore (see http://www.csn.ul.ie/~dan/war/crashes.htm ). A number of remains were washed ashore after this crash which may have been men from this aircraft. The pilot/crew were listed as:

F/Lt James Grant FLEMING DFC 40380 (Int) DIS
P/O Wilfred Sefton EMMET NZ401377 RNZAF +
Sgt Eric Willows JACKSON 999009 +
P/O Eric Gerald MARKER 101048 +
Sgt Sydney James EPPS 522263 +
Sgt Maurice Walter Gerald FOX 933498 +
Sgt James Cannell MASTERSON 911625 (Int)
LAC Frederick Walter LEA 904349 +
LAC Arthur DONCASTER 743595 +
LAC Andrew Patrick WALKER 972825 +
AC1 Albert Everall BENNETT 1081395 +

and the list states that "....Epps, Fox, Lea, Bennett and Doncaster were buried in Ireland.." (so Bennett and Doncaster were presumably buried elsewhere).

Does anyone in this forum know more of the event(s) which led to these four being buried in the Miltown Malbay Church of Ireland graveyard ? Does anyone know who the anonymous crew member might have been ?

Paddy

P.S. The cited website lists several other landings or crashes in Clare in WW2. For example, a Consolidated B-24D-95-CO Liberator crashed on the beach at Lahinch on July 10 1943 with the loss of 11 crew lives and a plaque in Lahinch commemorates this tragedy.

pwaldron
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by pwaldron » Sun May 17, 2009 8:52 pm

I should probably have posted the full story of the Doonbeg air crash here as well as sending photocopies to Paddy C. He summarised the story as follows in an e-mail to me:

The account of the survival of Sgt. Masterson was particularly
moving. Imagine it ! The guy crawls out of the sea, exhausted and wet and
freezing cold and crawls up to a cottage and might have died within a few
feet of help if Shanahan hadn't gone outside to check things out when his
mother said someone had been tapping on the window.

I was just alerted to a television programme about Clare on TG4 here in Ireland and turned it on as Aideen O'Mahoney (née Shanahan) was relating the story of how James Masterson arrived at her grandfather's home. He lived to a ripe old age, but when he eventually died his ashes were scattered at the spot where he almost died in 1941.

This item is not mentioned in the programme blurb at http://www.tg4.ie/scei/scei.asp :

Muintir na Mara (OS)
Sa chlár seo bíonn Pádraig Ó Duinnín ag iomramh thimpeall Leithinis Cheann Léime taobh le Cósta an Chláir. Le linn a thurais casann sé le Brendan Garvey a bhíodh ag obair sa teach solais. Insíonn sé dúinn faoin sórt saoil a bhí aige is é ag obair ann. Ansin labhraíonn Pádraig leis an dealbhóir Jim Connolly faoin obair atá ar bun aige leis an scéim athfhorbairt tuaithe. Ansin téann sé ar aghaidh chuig Cill Chaoi áit a bhfuil rásaí capall ar an trá. Tá cáil ar na rásaí seo agus bíonn Pádraig i láthair chun an t-atmaisféar a bhlaiseadh.

I presume that tonight's episode will appear in due course at at http://www.tg4.tv/
To watch it select Faisnéis - Cartlann from the left hand side menu; then scroll down to
Muintir na Mara - 17/5/09
Only last week's programme is listed at the moment.

\pw

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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by pwaldron » Sun May 17, 2009 9:07 pm

Clare Past Forum regulars might also like to watch the Muintir Na Mara episode from 10/5/09, in which regular forum contributor moc66 makes an appearance!

pwaldron
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by pwaldron » Tue May 26, 2009 2:24 pm

At the request of those who do not read Irish, here is a translation of the above programme description:

In this programme, Pádraig rows around the Loop Head Peninsula on the Coast of Clare. On his trip, he meets Brendan Garvey, who worked in lighthouses. He tells us of the sort of life he had working there. Then Pádraig talks to the sculptor Jim Connolly about the work he does with the rural resettlement scheme. Then he goes on to Kilkee where horse races take place on the strand. These races are famous and Pádraig is there to taste the atmosphere.

topdog
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by topdog » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:29 am

Note No1:
There were just two survivors from the crew of eleven on board the Short S.25 Sunderland II flying boat, serial No W3988; code ‘ZM-P’; name "Pluto" that crashed into Doughmore Bay, near Doonbeg while lost in very stormy weather. They were Flight Lieutenant James Grant Fleming DFC # 40380 the pilot and Sergeant James (Jim) Cannell Masterson # 911625.

Six bodies were recovered and were laid out in the hall at the village of Quilty. Three bodies were never recovered,

Three crew members, Sergeant Epps and Fox and Leading Aircraftman Lea, were then buried with full military honours in the Church of Ireland graveyard at Miltown Malbay. The graves were marked with standard ‘British Empire’ military tombstones showing name, rank, number and date deceased.

Two crew members, Leading Aircraftman Arthur Doncaster and Aircraftman Albert G Bennett were then buried with full military honours in the small Church of Ireland (Protestant) cemetery at Doonmore, almost opposite the GAA grounds just outside Doonbeg. During a visit in 1992, the gravestones, which appeared to date from close to the time of burial, stated their names with date of death only and, unlike the Miltown Malbay gravestones, did not give any indication of their RAF status.

The final recovered body could not be identified and was buried next to his three comrades at Miltown Malbay with a gravestone inscribed AN AIRMAN OF THE 1939 – 1945 WAR ROYAL AIR FORCE


Note No2:
All ten crew members and one military passenger on board the Consolidated B-24D-95-CO Liberator bomber Serial No 42-40784 of the 389th Bombardment (Bomb) Group, 8th Air Force, USAF that crash landed on the beach at Lahinch, Co Clare on 10 July 1943, survived

mick o
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by mick o » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:32 pm

details of the aircraft crash are in this book.title land fall ireland. the story of allied and german aircraft which came down in eire in world 2 aurhor donal macarron.donal is a native of ennistymon co clare. all the crew are not named in the book .
the following air craft crashes in co clare are detailed in the book
25- 10 1941
vicker wellington
kilmihal
23-12 42
llockheld p 38 lightning.
ballyvaughan strand.
10-7-43
consolidated b 24 d liberator.
lahinch.
7-4-1945.
supermarine spitfire
spanish point miltown malbay

doheochai
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by doheochai » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:18 pm

Paddy Casey wrote: A web search reveals that on December 3 1941 a Short Sunderland crashed at sea off Doonbeg, NR Carrowmore (see http://www.csn.ul.ie/~dan/war/crashes.htm ). A number of remains were washed ashore after this crash which may have been men from this aircraft. The pilot/crew were listed as:

F/Lt James Grant FLEMING DFC 40380 (Int) DIS
P/O Wilfred Sefton EMMET NZ401377 RNZAF +
Sgt Eric Willows JACKSON 999009 +
P/O Eric Gerald MARKER 101048 +
Sgt Sydney James EPPS 522263 +
Sgt Maurice Walter Gerald FOX 933498 +
Sgt James Cannell MASTERSON 911625 (Int)
LAC Frederick Walter LEA 904349 +
LAC Arthur DONCASTER 743595 +
LAC Andrew Patrick WALKER 972825 +
AC1 Albert Everall BENNETT 1081395 +

and the list states that "....Epps, Fox, Lea, Bennett and Doncaster were buried in Ireland.." (so Bennett and Doncaster were presumably buried elsewhere).

Does anyone in this forum know more of the event(s) which led to these four being buried in the Miltown Malbay Church of Ireland graveyard ? Does anyone know who the anonymous crew member might have been ?

Paddy
My father was in the coast guards during WW2 stationed at a lookout post at Corbally near Kilkee. When I was young I remember him telling me about a flying boat that crashed at the White Strand. He said it was damaged and was attempting to land when it hit a submerged rock. He said that one of the crew members was Irish and the Irishman swam ashore and was the only survivor.

dp_burke
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by dp_burke » Mon May 23, 2011 10:54 pm

Hello All,
I'm the 'owner' of the website listed above in the first posting, see http://www.csn.ul.ie/~dan/war/crashes.htm.

I'm a Sligo man so I hope you won't mind me intruding.

I've been trying for the past few months to track down and contact family relatives of the 11 men on Sunderland W3988. So far family members and other sources have provided me with photos of J G Fleming, W S Emmett, J C Masterson and F W Lea.

The Masterson family also sent me a copy of an article by Nuala Shanahan, "RAF Sunderland Plane Crash at Doughmore".

I wonder if anyone on the forum was ever involved in researching the men or would like to have some of the details I've gathered, small though it is.

best regards

Dennis

Mike4-72
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by Mike4-72 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:08 pm

Hello Dennis,
I saw this discussion and feel I ought to make contact because I had a close involvement with that Doughmore Crash on Dec 3rd 1941.
However, I'm completely new to Message Board discussions, so I'm not even sure if I'm communicating with anyone!
Kindly confirm we have a connection and I think there are some things I can contribute.
I'm more at home using email if you can offer me that option I would appreciate it.
Thank you,
Best regards, Mike

Clare Past Mod
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by Clare Past Mod » Tue Feb 28, 2012 10:54 am

Mike4-72 wrote:......I'm completely new to Message Board discussions, so I'm not even sure if I'm communicating with anyone! Kindly confirm we have a connection and I think there are some things I can contribute....
You are doing just fine, Mike. Your posting is visible to everybody. Please do go ahead and share your information here so that everybody can profit from it. Thank you.

Clare Past Moderator.

Mike4-72
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by Mike4-72 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:49 pm

Thank you Moderator. Flt Lt Fleming, a Canadian serving in the Royal Air Force, was the senior pilot on Sunderland W3988 that crashed on Dec 3rd 1941. The other two pilots were Pilot Officer Wilfred Sefton Emmet, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Pilot Officer Eric Gerald Marker, RAF. This was standard practice on these long endurance flights, one always free to rest on rotation.
I have Archive documents that suggest Fleming was aged 21 years at the time of the crash. However, I have also found a record that suggests he was older. Some Board Members appear to have contact with Fleming’s family and may be able to help clarify this?
Thank you, Mike

dp_burke
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by dp_burke » Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:50 pm

Hello Mike

So sorry for late reply to your message, I literally never visited the page in two years!

I have since added a specific page to the website about the crew and the events, its still in progress and i have a lot of the detail from the Irish Army report to transcribe still.

The new link is:
http://skynet.ie/~dan/war/w3988.htm

And there is a PDF file linked from that page.
I was trying to contact as many families as possible and managed only four of them in the end. If any others can be contacted through local Doonbeg sources that would be great.

best regards

Dennis
(I'll be keeping a better eye on this page now!)

pwaldron
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by pwaldron » Tue Sep 02, 2014 12:16 pm

There is another thread in this forum also discussing the 1941 plane crash.

dp_burke
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Re: Four airmen buried in Miltown Malbay, December 1941

Post by dp_burke » Wed May 16, 2018 10:49 am

Hello.

As I'm visiting Quilty at present I seen I never posted the correct address for the webpage on this crew.
http://www.ww2irishaviation.com/w3988.htm

Still seeking some of the crew mens families.
Regards

Dennis

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