On Aug 12, 1946, a small plane crashed in the Djouce Mountain. Miraculously all 21 girls and five crew survived.

As a gesture of compassion after World War II, 21 French Girl Guides were invited to a holiday camp in Rathfarnham, in Dublin. This was the first great adventure of their lives and the guides took off from Le Bourget Airport near Paris, in a Junkers 52, a small old German military plane with 249 gallons of petrol. As the plane flew over the Irish Sea stormy weather hit and visibility was reduced to almost nothing. The plane crashed in the Wicklow Mountains.

In 2005, Suzanne Barnes, one of the girls, released a book "When Our Plane Hit a Mountain" about their story of survival. Including interviews with other survivors and first responders, her book tells the story of the crash and the subsequent rescue operation, where the rescuers themselves got into difficulties, some of them having to form human chains linking each other for support. 

Speaking to the Irish Independent, for the 70th anniversary of the crash, Barnes spoke about the horrific crash and their experience.

"The weather was appalling, and the pilot was blown off course and didn't know where he was going," she said.

"There were no radar then," she added. "He was more or less relying on what he saw.

"All he knew was that he crossed the Irish Sea."

Soon they found themselves in the Wicklow Mountains and crashed into Djouce Mountain, just off the Knockree to Roundwood section of the Wicklow Way. The engine was ripped from the plane and left the fuselage behind. Crucial the plane did not catch fire. All 21 young girls, some of them Jewish survivors of WWII, and the five crew survived, albeit many not unscathed. 

"There were terrible injuries, but the plane didn't catch fire, which was amazing," she said.

The pilot and the Girl Guides' leader had minor injuries. They left the wreckage to seek help. 

Barnes said "They wandered over the mountain in the mist, cold and rain and found the way to Powerscourt Waterfall.

"They actually managed to slide down the cliff face at Powerscourt."

The 19 girls who remained were aged between 13 and 17. The young girls, eight of whom were seriously injured, huddled together inside the fuselage.

After six hours the pilot and the Girl Guide leader reached a hotel and the locals sprang into action. After 12 hours the casualties were brought to St. Michael's and St. Bricin's Hospitals.

Cover art from Suzanne Barnes' book.

Cover art from Suzanne Barnes' book.

While all were relieved that they had survived, Barnes said many were left with devastating injuries.

"One of the girls can't remember anything about it except being treated very well by the doctors in hospital," she said.

"All of her childhood memories before the plane crash are gone, so it's so important that she hears the girls' memories because they are her memories.

"Another girl had at least five fractures in her leg."

Since the 50th anniversary of the crash, in 1996, the survivors have continued to meet in France on the fateful day, Aug 12. 

Here the Irish Girl Guides tell their tale:

* Suzanne Barnes' book "When Our Plane Hit the Mountain: A True Story" is available here.