De Havilland Mosquito NS996 crash at Slieve Commedagh, Co. Down

On the night of 12th-13th January 1945, De Havilland Mosquito NS996 in heavy cloud crashed into the southern slopes of Slieve Commedagh, Co. Down.

On 12th January 1945, De Havilland Mosquito NS966 from R.A.F. No. 60 Operational Training Unit took off on a nighttime training flight. The plane left from R.A.F. High Ercall, Shropshire, England. At the controls of the plane was Flight Lieutenant Robert MacKenzie (132624). Flying Officer John Gordon Faragher (165455) was the Navigator on board.

A Mosquito aircraft (NS996) failed to return from an exercise carried out as part of the night flying programmes for the 12th. The Pilot was F/L MacKenzie and F/O J.G. Faragher was Navigator.

No. 60 O.T.U. Operational Record Book

This training flight was the last on Faragher’s Navigator Training Course. Records are not clear on the destination of the Mosquito but, having crossed the Irish Sea, it may have been bound for R.A.F. Long Kesh. The flight, however, ended in tragedy when the De Havilland plane, in heavy cloud, crashed into the side of Slieve Commedagh in the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down. On the same night, Avro Anson MK890 also crashed as part of the same R.A.F. No. 60 O.T.U. Programme.

So adverse were the weather conditions in Northern Ireland during the winter of 1945, the wreckage of the Mosquito was only uncovered at the beginning of March that year. Some wreckage of the De Havilland Mosquito remains near “The Castles”. In October 1945, a Royal Air Force salvage team assessed the site but decided against recovery of the written-off plane.

In 1986, recovery of the Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 engine took place with permission from the Ministry of Defence and the local landowner. In a joint operation between the Army Air Corps and the Ulster Aviation Society, the engine made its way via helicopter to the Ulster Transport Museum, Cultra, Co. Down.