Crash site of Vickers Wellington HF208

On 20th December 1943, Vickers Wellington HF208 came down on Mount Brandon, Co. Kerry causing the deaths of 6 airmen from the Polish 304 Squadron RAF.

At dawn on 20th December 1943, Vickers Wellington HF208 took off from RAF Predannack, Cornwall, England. The crew's mission was to carry out U-Boat patrols over the Bay of Biscay in bitterly cold weather. On board were six young airmen from the Polish No. 304 Bomber Squadron.

HF208 was flown by Flight Sergeant Adamowicz with his co-pilot Sergeant Czerniowski. The navigator was Sergeant Kuflik and the wireless operator was Sergeant Kowalewicz. The remaining crewmen were air gunners Pietrzak and Ługowski.

HF208 carried a Leigh Light which allowed it to illuminate U-Boats on the surface at night. This type of device was first trialled at RAF Limavady in 1941. By the end of the war, it had enabled carrying planes to make 218 attacks on U-Boats and 206 on ships. Of these, 27 U-Boats were destroyed.

On the morning of 20th December 1943, midway through operations, Flt Sgt Adamowicz radioed back to base. He asked to return due to a malfunction of the radio location equipment. The crew were having difficulty in getting a fix and were last spotted flying over Lismore, Co. Waterford.

No one knows what happened next, but it seems that in poor visibility, HF208 crashed into Arraglen on Mount Brandon, Co. Kerry. All six crew on board died in the incident. With due ceremony, the bodies were handed over to the UK authorities at the border between the Republic of Ireland and the UK, near Middletown, Co Armagh.

The graves of five of the Polish airmen are in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Sergeant Kuflik was laid to rest in the Jewish Cemetery at Carnmoney. Visitors to the crash site may still see visible parts of the plane’s framework in a gully on the mountainside. A memorial plaque commemorates the Polish aircrew on the wall of O’Connor’s Bar and Guesthouse, Cloghane, Co. Kerry.

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