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Wreckage of WWII Spitfire raised from Donegal bog

An American pilot was aboard the Spitfire when it came down in a Donegal bog. He bailed out from the plane, but it has remained beneath the surface for 70 years.

The engine of the Spitfire is brought to the surface
The engine of the Spitfire is brought to the surface

THE ARMY BOMB disposal team has made safe six World War II era machine guns dug out of a bog in Co. Donegal.

A large quantity of ammunition was also found at the site on the Inisowen Peninsula, the site of the crash of an RAF Spitfire. The BBC reports that the plane crashed in 1941. The pilot successfully bailed out from the Spitfire and he and his parachute landed in a peat bog, with the plane crashing half a mile away.

The BBC tells the fascinating story of the pilot, a 23-year-old American called Bud Wolfe, who went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam before his death in 1994.

The whole operation in Donegal today was filmed and documented by a BBC crew who are making an account of what they say is “one of the most bizarre moments of the war”. Wolfe had crashed over the border and thus was interned at the Curragh Camp with Allies and Germans, before walking straight out of the camp two weeks later and returning to his RAF base.

The machine guns, ammunition, the engine and other parts of the Spitfire were brought to the surface today. The Army Bomb Disposal Team spent over seven hours making the ammunition safe. The guns will now be removed to a secure location to be decommissioned and cleaned. They’ll then be handed over to the Derry Museum.

Wreckage of WWII Spitfire raised from Donegal bog
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  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    The dig gets underway
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    Part of the wing of the plane emerges from the bog
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    The first of the Browning machine guns emerges
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    An ammunition magazine
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    Thousands of live rounds were uncovered, according to BBC historian Dan Snow
  • Donegal WWIISpitfire dig

    The stump of a Spitfire propeller blade
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    The body of the plane emerges
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    BBC historian Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) with the pilot's seatbelt
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    An instructions document from inside the Spitfire
  • Donegal WWII Spitfire dig

    The Rolls Royce engine is pulled from the bog

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All images courtesy of @DigWW2. There is a vast collection of images on the Twitter page of the while operation. The recovery of the Spitfire was filmed as part of a series called Dig WWII, a series for BBC Northern Ireland to be presented by historian Dan Snow. It will be broadcast next year.

For more information read this story of Bud Wolfe and his Spitfire on the BBC website: Spitfire down..the WWII camp where Allies and Germans mixed.

About the author:

Emer McLysaght

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