The family of a British World War II pilot who crashed his plane in a field in County Monaghan because of a massive engine failure while flying across Northern Ireland in 1942 recently traveled from England to see where it happened.
Breaking News Ireland reported that Lieutenant Gordon Hayter Proctor of the RAF had to eject himself from the plane before it hurtled to the ground on September 20. Today, parts of the aircraft, such as the engine, are housed at the Monaghan County Museum.
This summer, Monaghan County Museum hosts a fascinating new exhibition: The Monaghan Spitfire – Life on the Border with a World at War. Opening on 28th June 2018 and includes a real Spitfire and an anticraft gun outside Monaghan County Museum #MyMonaghan pic.twitter.com/eNNn31roqs— MonaghanTourism (@MonaghanTourism) June 5, 2018
Proctor’s niece, Sarah Tysoe, was one of the family members who traveled from England on Thursday after local archaeologists discovered the parts of the plane last year. They had been buried in the same field since the Second World War.
The two people who were crucial in gathering the parts from the plane were Liam Bradley, the museum creator, and Jonny McNee, an aviation historian. Most of the plane, because of the speed of the impact, had disintegrated, but the parts that were recovered had to be uncovered from around three meters below the ground.
Bradley noted that “As the engine is so front heavy it flew on for a few minutes but once it lost power it dipped almost at an 80-degree angle at 400 miles an hour.”
When Proctor bailed out of the plane, he landed a few miles away and across the border in County Tyrone.
McNee felt that “The Spitfire crash is part of the local history.”
“Everybody heard about it, lots of people went to the area and stole a bit of the plane before the Irish Army arrived.”
Proctor’s mission was actually a meteorological one, meaning that he was up there trying to measure the atmospheric conditions with another plane that was based at RAF Aldergrove (present-day Belfast International Airport).
When he landed, he was unsure as to which side of the border he was on but took precaution by burying his parachute for the suspicion that he was in the neutral Republic of Ireland.
“The locals approached him, politely, with pitchforks. But they welcomed him and he had a bath and a meal and was able to ring his base… Some hours later he was back flying. He was an exceptional pilot.”
This incident, unfortunately, was not the last crash that Proctor had. In October 1944, he went missing in Burma (current-day Myanmar) and was never found again.