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  1. #1
    qtman qtman is offline

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    Castle Archdale, the Donegal Corridor and the Bismarck

    During 1941, a squadron of RAF Catalina Flying Boats was stationed at RAF Castle Archdale on the shores of Lough Erne just outside Enniskillen.

    They were here because the British Government had done a secret deal with the Irish Free State to allow the Catalinas to fly over south Donegal on its way to reconnaissance missions in the North Atlantic.

    During May 1941, one of these Catalinas spotted the German Battleship, Bismarck, whilst it was steaming for German ports in France. The Bismarck had sunk the largest ship in the British Navy, HMS Hood, 2 days previously, and had eluded a fleet of British battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines in the interim.

    At the time it was spotted, its position was not known to the British, and was confidently heading for aircraft cover from the Luftwaffe coming out of France.

    Thanks to being spotted by the Catalina, a topedo air strike was launched from the Ark Royal, during which the Bismarck's port rudder was jammed at an angle of 15 degree. The ship was effectively crippled by this (she could only travel in a wide circle) despite being only 100 miles from air and submarine cover.

    The British ships closed in applied the Coup De Grace. The loss of prestige to Hitler was so great that the German surface navy never put to sea during the war again.

    RAF Castle Archdale is now a country park that is open to the public. The docks where the Catalinas tied up and still entact, as are several silos. There is also a small WWII museum in the main building.

    Several Catalina crews lost their lives in crashes in the area, and many are interred at Catholic and Protestant cemetries in the area. One entire crew was lost in a crash at Glenade in Co. Leitrim.

    Worth a visit.
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  2. #2
    Catalpa Catalpa is offline
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    Re: Castle Archdale, the Donegal Corridor and the Bismarck

    Quote Originally Posted by qtman
    During 1941, a squadron of RAF Catalina Flying Boats was stationed at RAF Castle Archdale on the shores of Lough Erne just outside Enniskillen.

    They were here because the British Government had done a secret deal with the Irish Free State to allow the Catalinas to fly over south Donegal on its way to reconnaissance missions in the North Atlantic.

    During May 1941, one of these Catalinas spotted the German Battleship, Bismarck, whilst it was steaming for German ports in France. The Bismarck had sunk the largest ship in the British Navy, HMS Hood, 2 days previously, and had eluded a fleet of British battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines in the interim.

    At the time it was spotted, its position was not known to the British, and was confidently heading for aircraft cover from the Luftwaffe coming out of France.

    Thanks to being spotted by the Catalina, a topedo air strike was launched from the Ark Royal, during which the Bismarck's port rudder was jammed at an angle of 15 degree. The ship was effectively crippled by this (she could only travel in a wide circle) despite being only 100 miles from air and submarine cover.

    The British ships closed in applied the Coup De Grace. The loss of prestige to Hitler was so great that the German surface navy never put to sea during the war again.

    RAF Castle Archdale is now a country park that is open to the public. The docks where the Catalinas tied up and still entact, as are several silos. There is also a small WWII museum in the main building.

    Several Catalina crews lost their lives in crashes in the area, and many are interred at Catholic and Protestant cemetries in the area. One entire crew was lost in a crash at Glenade in Co. Leitrim.

    Worth a visit.
    Very interesting that - must try and visit there one day.

    However the surface German Navy did put to sea on numerous occasions afterwards but not back out into the Atlantic in a commerce raiding role flying the flag.

    Of course besides the U boats the Kreigsmarine also used the famous auxiliary cruisers (disguised commerce raiders) of which the deadly battle between Sydney II-Kormoran in November 1941 is the most famous encounter.

    http://www.shrine.org.au/content.asp?document_id=1492

    PS IIRC the Bismark was spotted by an American Naval Officer who was an observer on board a Catalina - even though the USA was still officially neutral at the time!
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  3. #3
    toxic avenger toxic avenger is offline
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    My father remembered RAF planes practising dive-bombing and shooting at the rocks off Inishmurray Island in Donegal Bay in the early forties. He remembered Lord Mountbatten walking the shore picking cockles while simultaneously broadcasting from Burma the same day! There was widespread co-operation and facilitation given to the British at this time, so much so that Germany could have declared us hostile had they found out..
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  4. #4
    qtman qtman is offline

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    Re: Castle Archdale, the Donegal Corridor and the Bismarck

    Quote Originally Posted by Catalpa
    PS IIRC the Bismark was spotted by an American Naval Officer who was an observer on board a Catalina - even though the USA was still officially neutral at the time!
    Yeah. Apparently, he's still alive too and living in Nebraska. His involvement couldn't be reported in the media at the time.

    There are a few other interesting stories online about the Catalinas. The actual aircraft that spotted the Bismarck was so damaged by flak when it got back to Lough Erne that it nearly sank, and was only saved by the efforts of a local volunteer fire crew from Enniskillen, some of whom are still alive and living in the area today.
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  5. #5
    all lower case all lower case is offline

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    so all this ************************e about dev and churchill is just that ... ************************e ...

    we did our bit. more than some of the so-called 'allies'.

    i saw the absurdity of this a few years ago during the d-day commemorations when elements of the luxembourgeois army carried their flag. i suddenly remembered that more irishmen died in a single day on d-day than in the entire luxembourgeois army during the entire of ww2. yet, we're constantly reviled for being 'neutral' while they're feted as 'allies' and 'combatants'.

    the only difference is one of geography. they had no choice because their cheek is by the jowl of germany's fat arse. we had water - and britain -between us and the nazis.

    if they had a choice would luxembourg have stayed neutral?

    as jim gogarty said in the back of the car out in swords: 'would they ************************k?!!'
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  6. #6
    soubresauts soubresauts is offline
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    Very interesting... thanks, qtman.

    Makes me think... Perhaps Shannon Airport should be turned into a country park, and the main building could house an Iraq War museum, commemorating the Irish involvement.

    I'm reminded of the German military cemetery in Glencree, a beautiful place. There are so many stories behind those gravestones.
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  7. #7
    qtman qtman is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by soubresauts
    I'm reminded of the German military cemetery in Glencree, a beautiful place. There are so many stories behind those gravestones.
    Indeed.

    Has anyone ever been to the German military cemetery in Normandy? Its interesting in that German soldiers were always buried two to a grave, apparently so that they would not be alone in eternity.

    The site also houses a museum, which contains letters from soldiers who are buried there. A lot of them had been told they were going home just prior to June 6th, apparently to generate a bit of esprit de corps in advance of what was to come.
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