Young WWII hero airman remembered on 75th anniversary of death

Francis McCluskey's cousins, Patricia McCluskey and Alice O'Brien, lay a wreath in his memory at Ballymoney War Memorial
Francis McCluskey's cousins, Patricia McCluskey and Alice O'Brien, lay a wreath in his memory at Ballymoney War Memorial

A wreath has been laid in memory of a young Co Antrim airman who lost his life on a World War Two bombing mission to Germany.

Friday was the 75th anniversary of the night that Flight Sergeant Francis McCluskey was killed when his Halifax bomber was shot down during a RAF mission to Osnabrück.

The Ballymoney man was only 20-years-old and he is buried in Rhenen, Utrecht, Holland, close to where his plane crashed on the night of October 6, 1942.

For many years, the story of Flt Sgt McCluskey was unknown in north Antrim and, unfortunately, his name was omitted from the Ballymoney war memorial.

This was put right in 2013 when Toon Blokland, a Dutch war historian, contacted Ballymoney Museum and the following year Francis’ name was added to the Roll of Honour.

The McCluskey family, now living in Co Londonderry, have donated Francis’ medals to Ballymoney Museum and also a flying cap which was found near the body of the young airman back in 1942.

The cap was returned to the family by the Dutch lady who had kept it safe in the hope that she would one day meet them.

The McCluskey family visited Ballymoney on Saturday for a private ceremony and were hosted by Joe Donaghy MBE, a member of Causeway Coast Branch, RAF Association, councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan and local historian Keith Beattie.

Flt Sgt McCluskey’s two elderly cousins, Patricia McCluskey and Alice O’Brien, laid a wreath in his memory at the war memorial.