The Garry Pentland Summer School established last year is to continue the Gortin man’s legacy next month when it unveils a plaque on Crownarad Mountain in County Donegal in memory of 12 Second World War aircrew. They perished in a crash north-west of Killybegs just two months before Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945 that ended the 20th century’s second global conflict.
From 201 Squadron, RAF, the crew based at Castle Archdale on Lower Lough Erne died when their Sunderland Flying boat ML743 came down at approximately 0230 hours on March 14. There were no survivors.
The men had been flying over neutral Irish territory en route across the famed Donegal Corridor via Donegal Bay into the North Atlantic to undertake an anti U-Boat patrol. Eight of the crew were buried in Irvinestown, County Fermanagh, seven at the Church of Ireland graveyard, and one at the Sacred Heart Church. A further two were interred in England and one in Scotland and one in Wales.
Over the years a great many people, including relatives of those who gave their lives in the service of their country that night, have visited Crownarad Mountain to pay their respects and remember lost loved ones. Visitors during the past 20 years will have noticed among other ‘monuments’ placed on the site through the years a memorial erected by Garry marking the 50th anniversary of the accident in 1995.
Now, on Saturday 14th March, 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the tragedy, a fitting and lasting memorial will be unveiled at the crash site inset in a cairn devised and constructed by Garry aided by many like-minded volunteers who believe sacrifices made in the interest of peace should never be forgotten. Those living close by the site should not be forgotten either, notably Willie Mackey who met extensively with Mr Pentland over a long period of time. And, while the Summer School is promoting this event, there is a poignant detail that must be mentioned.
The plaque is to be unveiled by BBC religious affairs broadcaster, retreat leader and author, the Revd Dr Michael Ford, who had been approached by Garry to carry out this duty shortly before his passing in August 2013. It is hoped a short presentation and display will commence at the Clock Tower Restaurant, Killybegs from noon culminating in the unveiling ceremony of the memorial on Crownarad Mountain.
Any assistance from local people, or indeed from those living elsewhere will be greatly appreciated. In studying the stories of crashes elsewhere, we know that many parts of the aircraft can be put to good use in local communities. Any local knowledge and artifacts from the crash are really welcome.
Further information is available from:
Ian Pentland, telephone 0044 (0)28 81648201 and/or Rose Mary Murphy, telephone 0044 (0)77 08567449.