Skellig Michael Crash at Skellig Michael

I was in Waterville on holiday in 1987 when I found out about an-up-to-then, unknown Aircrash. I met an elderly man in a pub and in the course of our conversation he asked me if I knew about the Plane that hit Skellig Michael. I didn't, he didn't know much more and I came home from Waterville bewildered.

How did I miss such an accident from my records. I checked them again. It was not there. Where had I gone wrong and then I thought about it. Skellig is an island and had a lighthouse and if a crash had taken place there then the lightkeepers would have known about it, especially if wreckage fell into the sea. Before the advent of email and the wonderful Internet I sent a handwritten letter to the RNLI in Dun Laoighre and they forwarded it to their HQ in Poole Dorset. Three weeks later and with baited breadth a RNLI Letter arrived and stated that on the morning of the 27th of February, 1944, an unknown aircraft was seen to crash in the sea off the north side of the Island. It further stated that the RNLI Sub Station at Valentia Island was alerted by the Lightkeepers and told that an Aircraft was in the sea near the rock. The 'St.Bernard', a sea rescue rowing boat was sent out in a force 8 easterly gale but had to turn back due to the severity of the weather.The RNLI stated that they were sending me more records of the incident. I wrote to Irish Military Archives in Dublin and requested the LOP records for the 27th of February, 1944. It would seem that the 27th of February, 1944, was an eventful day for watching aircraft from Bray Head. It was recorded that a number of Allied flying boats were seen doing low level passes around Skellig Michael which is 6 miles off the Kerry coast. More surprises were to come from the RNLI when one of their letters stated that one of the three lightkeepers on duty that fateful night observed that a huge aircraft was seen to glance off the highest peak and an orange glow was then seen in the sky. The following day one of the lightkeepers, in calm conditions, climbed to the highest pinnacle of the rock and saw a long streak of white paint on the rock and that very same lightkeeper later that day plucked from the water a life jacket bearing the wording VPB110. Finally the breakthrough, but what did it mean. Using my litany of Air Force contacts I sent letters to USAF, RAF, RNZAF, LUFTWAFFE and RCAF. USAF at Maxwell AFB replied that VPB110 was a U.S. Navy Squadron and told me who to write to and who would assist me in my quest. This was not a research project for personal glory. This was and will always be a labour of love to do it right and the rest, as they say, is history. Bernard Stevens, my late and much lamented friend from Devon, provided the technical information while I concentrated on the human side and the tracing of the next of kin of all eleven navy crew which has been my folly over very many years. At the end of 1989 all eleven families had been traced throughout America, former wives, sons, brothers, sisters, former colleagues and family friends. No stone had been left unturned.

On the 15th of August, 1990, thirty three relatives and friends of the crew arrived into Shannon airport and travelled under Garda escort to 'The Derrynane Hotel' near Caherdaniel where they were accommodated free of charge by Mary O'Connor. On Saturday the 18th of August, they attended twin Memorial Ceremonies on land and sea overlooking Skellig Michael in memory of their loved ones whose remains were never found. It was that final day in my research that I gave my crew back to God and it tore at my heartstrings. I felt a great sense of loss over eleven friends. The tears became more apparent when out of the mist one could hear the the sound of a lone piper playing the haunting 'Abide with Me'. I tried to continue researching but the bite was gone and to a degree I am glad. Instead a former colleague and myself in The Fleet Air Wing 7 Research Group, traced FAW7 next of kin who lost loved ones during WW2 but in 1998 this search petered out. But on the 15th of August, 2001, I was requested to assist in the tracing of next of kin of a USAAC B17 'Foxylady' Crew whose plane crashed at sea off Suffolk on the 21st of July, 1944, and all were lost. After 5 months and 17 days all next of kin had been traced by family members and myself. Such is the power of the Internet. I ask my peers to judge me in the way I carried out my research. I dedicate all my research to three people. Bernard Stevens of Exeter, my late friend and the Father of all Fleet Air Wing 7 Research, Chief Gene S.McIntyre of Fleet Air Wing 7 who resides in San Antonio Texas and whom I regard as a second father, last but not least my late lamented father Miah O' Regan who died in 1998. It was Dad who instilled the idea in my brain when I was only seven years of age as he showed me a Luftwaffe crash location on Cashelane Hill in 1959.

Gerard O' Regan

''Blath Na Greine''

Ballinlough Road,


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