Short Sunderland NJ175 took off at 1155hrs on 12th August 1944 from RAF Castle Archdale, Co. Fermanagh. The crew was from Royal Canadian Air Force 422 Squadron flying with the Royal Air Force Coastal Command. The mission for the day was a convoy patrol over the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the River Erne, the plane passed over Belleek, Co. Fermanagh and Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal and out into the Atlantic. The crew noted the rough sounding engine and as it grew worse, the pilot decided to return to base. He dumped fuel and jettisoned depth charges over the coast before coming inland.
The plane came down on flat ground near Cashelard, Co. Donegal. The impact started a fire, which burned out the forward section and wings of the plane.
Three of the 12-man aircrew died in the crash. Bodies of the dead airmen returned to Northern Ireland at the border near Belleek, Co. Fermanagh. Soldiers from the Irish Army based at Finner Camp provided a guard of honour. Irish authorities contacted RAF Castle Archdale. They permitted the Royal Air Force to enter neutral Ireland to retrieve guns and ammunition.
Short Sunderland NJ175 Crew
|Last Name||First Name(s)||Rank||Role||Info|
|Devine||Evan Campbell "Cam"||Flight Lieutenant||Pilot||RCAF J/5705. Killed aged 22 years old. Buried in Irvinestown Church of Ireland.|
|Platsko||Martin Alexander "Alex"||Flying Officer||Co-Pilot||RCAF J/24784. Survived with head injuries.|
|Wilkinson||Roy Thomas||Flying Officer||RCAF J/28705. Killed aged 22 years old. Buried in Irvinestown Church of Ireland.|
|Allen||George Willoughby||Flying Officer||Navigator||RCAF J/24911. Survived with head injuries, and burns to hands and legs.|
|Parker||Robert Clifford "Bob"||Pilot Officer||RCAF C/86728.|
|Jeal||Harold Roger||Sergeant||Flight Engineer||TCAF R/75336. Survived with fractured spine, and burns to hands and face.|
|Clark||Joseph Frank S||Sergeant||Air Gunner||1694120. Survived with fractured spine.|
|Locke||Arthur Leslie||Pilot Officer||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||RCAF J/85165. Survived with head injuries.|
|Forrest||John Reginald "Jack"||Pilot Officer||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||RCAF J/92096. Killed. Buried in Irvinestown Roman Catholic Church.|
|Oderkirk||Delbert Venus "Bert"||Sergeant||Wireless Operator / Air Gunner||RCAF R/161807. Survived with injuries to hands and face.|
|Singer||Charles Langford "Chuck"||Sergeant||Air Gunner||RCAF R/206461. Survived with fractured left arm.|
|Colburn||George Arnold||Sergeant||Air Gunner||RCAF R/217572. Survived with head injuries, and broken right leg.|
We felt like nothing was ever going to happen to us out there. To fly was just a treat to get up and if they ever postponed a flight on us we got sick, you know, just sick. I don’t know any aircrew that ever worried- it was all jovial, funny guys that had a good time, I don’t know anybody that ever worried about dying. Flying out to sea in those things was so peaceful. You almost forgot that you had a job to do it was so beautiful and peaceful.
Charles Langford “Chuck” Singer speaking in Cashelard, Co. Donegal in 2002.
Back Row: Jeal, Colburn, Unknown, Singer, Parker. Front Row: Forrest, Allen, Devine, Platsko, Hawkins.
Short Sunderland NJ175 was one of only a few flying boats in Co. Fermanagh to crash in daylight with good visibility. Many witnesses saw the crash.
Doctors, nurses, and clergymen attended the crew after the crash. An ambulance took the injured to Sheil Hospital, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. Dr. Daly and Dr. Gorden and the nursing staff took care of the men. After a few days, the surviving crew returned to St. Angelo Airfield in Co. Fermanagh. From there, they travelled onwards to a hospital in England.
A memorial to the crew of Short Sunderland NJ175 stands near Belleek. Pieces of melted aluminium from the wreck are visible around the memorial erected by Gary Pentland and James McGarrigle.
In the years since the crash, local residents have found many scrap pieces from the Sunderland. Three members of the Jeal family came from Canada to visit the site on 30th June 2009. Charles Singer also returned to the crash site in 2002 despite records suggesting he had died in the 1944 incident.