Belfast Telegraph

Farmer breaks 76-year silence over aircraft crash near Irish border

By Patsy McArdle

The full story of how an aircraft came down near the south Armagh border during the Second World War has finally been revealed by an eyewitness after more than 70 years.

Details of the 1942 crash were initially hushed up by the Irish authorities because of the Free State's wartime neutrality.

Retired farmer James Watters, from Lisdungormal near the Co Monaghan village of Clontibret, said he can still vividly recall, as a boy of 10, hearing the plane "roar across" their home after dark before it ploughed into a field.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the incident, Mr Watters said: "It emerged the pilot had already bailed out by parachute, and had landed safely, near Keady in Co Armagh.

"Luckily the non-piloted aircraft didn't strike our house, but there was a terrific explosion when it crashed into the field a few hundred yards away, which belonged to a neighbouring farmer."

Mr Watters and his late mother, as well as his two sisters, went to the scene of the crash the next day.

He said there was a huge crater and the immediate area was littered with debris.

"There were also a lot of live bullets lying around, which obviously came from a consignment inside the fighter plane when it crashed," he added.

"However, we all had to move away from the field as a blanket of security was thrown around the area next day - it was an experience that I'll never forget."

Mr Watters said he had decided to speak following an appeal last week by an Irish Military Archive team seeking information about the crash on December 17, 1942.

It emerged Mr Watters added that the pilot, identified as Milo Rundall, bailed out of the aircraft after "he had become lost".

Rundall had been flying back to Eglinton, Co Londonderry, which for a short period was home to the famous American 82nd Fighter Group.

The pilot landed safely across the border near Keady, while the pilot-less aircraft flew on, before plunging vertically into the field at Corrintra.

The impact caused a crater some 30 yards square and wreckage was scattered over most of a field.

Eamon de Valera had declared that the Irish Free State would remain neutral during the war, which was referred to as 'The Emergency'.

It was seen as a way of showing its independence from Britain.

De Valera also feared supporting the war would split the government and country.

Belfast Telegraph

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