George Furney

Born in Wexford, Ireland, Flight Sergeant George Furney DFM lived in Finaghy, Co. Antrim. He died on 31st May 1941, shot down by a Vichy French plane.

Flight Sergeant

George Furney

816134

Flight Sergeant George Furney DFM (816134) served as a wireless operator/air gunner in the Royal Air Force. He saw action at the Battle of Matapan in 1941.

Flight Sergeant George Furney DFM (816134) served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. He was the son of Benjamin WB Furney and Elizabeth Downes Furney of Gorey, Co. Wexford, Ireland. Before the outbreak of war, he lived in Finaghy, Co. Antrim.

He joined RAF 84 Squadron in Habbaniyah, Iraq. While there, the air gunner formed a formidable partnership with pilot Flight Sergeant Alex Gordon DFM. Between the 2 men, they carried out over 25 raids.

At all times, Sergeant Furney and Flight Sergeant Gordon have shown great keenness in accomplishing their tasks.

London Gazette – July 1941

Habbaniyah, Iraq

Imperial War Museum Photo: CM 812 (Part of the Air Ministry Second World War Official Collection). An RAF officer investigates wrecked artillery belonging to Iraqi rebels who besieged the RAF station at Habbaniyah, Iraq, in May 1941 and who were subsequently attacked by RAF bombers.

Action in North Africa

The Tobruk raid on 25th October 1940, saw the pair attacked by enemy fighters. Gordon and Furney’s engine shut down but they shook off the attack. Gordon force-landed the stricken plane in the North African desert.

On another raid on 22nd December 1940, the pair attacked the Kucove oil field in Albania in a formation of 9 planes. Furney fought back against 4 harassing enemy Fiat G50 fighters, receiving a head injury. Enemy fighters brought down 4 of the Allied fighters. The remaining 5, including Furney’s sustained damage. Again, Flight Sergeant Gordon managed to bring the damaged craft 200 miles back to base.

Before he was wounded, Sergeant Furney was shooting back fiercely and co-operating well with the other aircraft of the formation in concentrating cross-fire on the attacking aircraft.

London Gazette – July 1941

Cape Matapan

On 28th March 1941, they carried out an attack on the Italian Fleet off Cape Matapan, Greece. Under intense anti-aircraft fire, Gordon descended to 4,000 feet. Furney scored two direct hits with 2,500lb bombs on an Italian cruiser causing it to slow down and placing other vessels on standby.

Both these airmen have displayed great skill and determination in accomplishing their allotted tasks.

For his bravery in these actions, Furney and Gordon both received the Distinguished Flying Medal.

The Battle of Matapan 1941

Imperial War Museum Photo: A 9794 (Part of the Admiralty Official Collection). An Italian cruiser, possibly the Bolgano, firing her guns during the Battle of Matapan off the coast of Greece. Photo taken from an attacking British aircraft on 28th March 1941.

Blenheim L9316

On Saturday 31st May 1941, Flight Sergeant Furney took part in a reconnaissance sortie in Blenheim Mk IV L9316. A Vichy French MS406 attacked the Blenheim, shooting the Allied plane down. Furney, Gordon and Flight Sergeant George Humber died in the resulting crash. Flight Sergeant George Furney was 21 years old.

George Furney’s grave is in Habbaniyah Cemetery, Iraq. The cemetery in the Middle East is no longer maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His name is on the headstone of the family grave in Carnmoney Cemetery, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim.

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