ON 7 APRIL 1943, an American flying fortress was forced to crash land about a mile from Clonakilty, county Cork.
What happened next has become a local legend.
The crew of the US Air Force Boeing B-17f-25-DL Fortress S 42-3090 U 334/95BG – also called ‘T’aint a Bird’ – made its way to O’Donovan’s Hotel with the help of the local defence force. But they weren’t alone. With the ten officers was a monkey named Tojo.
The men – and the monkey – partied with locals for three days as war and rationing were briefly forgotten. However, the hard work soon started. A mobile runway was laid and the plane took off for England, via Shannon, on 2 May. Tojo was left behind.
Unfortunately, he had died while staying at the hotel (maybe because of the Irish diet or the Irish cold) and was buried in the yard with full military honours – and a traditional Irish wake.
(Image: O’Donovan’s Hotel)
Seventy years on, the hotel and the local people still remember and celebrate the bizarre events of spring 1943.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sean Cosden of the US Defence Attache and 93-year-old former Irish Army Engineer Private James Galvin, who laid the runway on White’s Marsh, attended the hotel today for the unveiling of a statue to honour Tojo and the rest of the bomber crew.
The plane was on its way to England from Morocco when it strayed off course. It ended up hovering over Cork, very low on fuel. All passengers survived the landing on White’s Marsh between the mainland and the island of Inchydoney. (Image: O’Donovan’s Hotel)
The bronze statue was created by sculptor Moss Gaynor. (Image: Julien Behal/PA)
There were also actors on hand today to re-enact the events of 1943. Frank Williamson was dressed as an America Air Force Pilot from World War Two.