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Nazi bombing in Wexford was an accident

Congratulations to historian John Flynn on his new book recalling the German bombing of the Shelbourne Co-op creamery at Campile, Co Wexford, in 1940.

The bombing claimed the lives of three female workers at the co-op and the Irish government delivered a swift rebuke to the Nazi regime at this apparent breach of Irish neutrality.

Conspiracy theories abound as to why Campile was "chosen" as a target by the Luftwaffe. One states that someone associated with the co-op had been supplying boots to the British Eighth Army in north Africa and the Germans discovered this and sought revenge.

Another theory is that butter wrappers from the creamery were seized from captured British troops and that Hitler, upon hearing of this, ordered the immediate destruction of the creamery.

A far more likely explanation, in the light of what we now know about the aerial warfare conducted in the opening months of the conflict, is that the British had employed their highly effective "radar bending" tactics to deliberately confuse German aircraft and throw them off course.

From the sky, the Campile creamery looked very much like a factory. The nearby railway station would have added to its perceived importance.

The attack was therefore almost certainly accidental, and this view is reinforced by the fact that the German government promptly apologised and offered compensation for the bombing.

John Fitzgerald


Irish Independent

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