Remembering WW2 airmen
A ceremony has been held to remember two young airmen who died when their plane crashed near the Giant’s Causeway during World War II.
Despite torrential rain, a large crowd gathered at the spot of the crash in 1942 to honour the memory of the two airmen, one from New Zealand and one from Australia.
It was on Monday, July 20th, 1942 that a A Wellington bomber took off from Aghanloo, near Limavady.
Aghanloo was one of the first airfields built for Bomber Command in World War II.
Limavady airfield in the townland of Aghanloo was a hastily erected airfield used during WW2 by Coastal Command.
It is about two miles outside of the town and was built 1939/40.
It finished its wartime career in 1945 (although used occasionally by the Fleet Air Arm in the 1950s).
It is no longer an airfield and many of the old hangers are used for industrial purposes.
The bomber was on a low flying training exercise and, while the pilot attempted to establish his position in low cloud and poor visibility, the aircraft flew into the ground and caught fire.
The aircraft crashed at 4.10pm north east of the Giant’s Causeway.
The plane flew initially inland over the Causeway towards Bushmills in low cloud with visibility of 15-20 miles.
The cause of the accident was considered to be an error of judgement on the part of the pilot as instructions had been given not to fly inland.
The crash occurred just two hundred yards from the Causeway Hotel.
Pilot Officer Wilson Twentyman, New Zealand Air Force, aged 26, was flight captain and the other pilot was Sergeant Vernon Pither, Royal Australian Air Force, aged 28.
Both men died instantly and are buried at Drumachose (Christ Church) Church of Ireland Churchyard, Limavady.
Members of the local branches of the Royal British Legion were in attendance at the ceremony.
They were joined by members of Limavady RBL branch.