At a time of Islamic State terrorism history and economics can heal scars

This week, I am giving a short presentation in the newly built Kilmurry Museum on the fate of an anti submarine aircraft that operated during the Second World War.
At a time of Islamic State terrorism history and economics can heal scars

The museum itself is a good example of how a community, through voluntary organisation and sheer effort, can create a resource that helps sustain local activity.

This museum contains an eclectic and wide ranging group of objects that capture the history of Ireland through many lenses.

Its location, close to Béal na Bláth, make it an obvious home for displays about the War of Indepedence.

The ensuing civil conflict is the main focus, but it also houses many items that cover a variety of subjects on Irish history.

The new museum’s contents were kept in a small property in the village until a scheme supported by the Leader programme helped finance a new building, which will be formally opened during the first half of 2016.

This facility has the potential to attract visitors and tourists.

It is situated close to the busy main road connecting Cork with Kerry.

It is also a village through which Michael Collins travelled on that fateful day in 1922.

Among the museum’s collection is a set of items from an aircraft that crashed in the mountain above Castletownbere in August 1943.

It was an anti-submarine aircraft that was operating in the Battle of the Atlantic.

That campaign was arguably one of the most important campaigns of the Second World War.

This plane was operated by Britain’s Coastal Command, but it has a number of unusual connections to Ireland.

Firstly, it was built in a Michigan factory owned by Henry Ford, whose father emigrated to America from Ballinscarthy, near Clonakilty.

Secondly, it was operating on a mission from Aldergrove airport close to Belfast on the ill-fated day on which it crashed.

The crew were led by a pilot from Belfast, Robert Kildea.

It was an Irish army contingent that attended to the crew members, who all perished that evening.

Their remains were brought to the Border and formally handed over for burial in various cemeteries close to London, Newcastle, and Belfast.

At a time when everyone is shocked by the remorseless outbursts of Islamic terrorism, it is a challenge to absorb the scale of conflict during 1943.

In 1942 alone, more than 1,100 ships and their crews were sunk in the Atlantic by German U-boats.

In the month preceding this flight, 16 U-boats were sunk and 14 aircraft were lost in combat.

It was into this melee that BV802V, a Consolidated B24, took off from Aldergrove, Co Antrim, 30km west of Belfast.

It was on a mission that lasted 12 hours and ended in tragedy for a crew whose average age was just 24.

They had flown down the Irish coast and out beyond Land’s End.

They were conducting a so-called percussion patrol that involved tracking German submarines operating from bases on the west coast of France.

We know that, on the return leg, they were lost in a typical West Cork summer fog and hit a mountain above Goulane late in the evening of August 27.

For me, the key lesson from studying this flight and the time when it happened is how nations once engaged in vicious conflict can resolve their differences over time and live in peace.

Britain and Germany are now civilised partners in Europe.

The US and Japan, after an awful conflict, are today strong trading partners.

The B24 was built with Pratt and Whitney engines in 1943.

In 2015, that same company has built the engines for Japan’s first commercial jet since the second world war and it took off on its first test flight two weeks ago.

We are approaching the delicate period commemorating Irish independence and the ensuing civil war.

It is worthwhile remembering a key lesson.

History shows us how opposing forces can reconcile no matter how deep their conflict.

Joe Gill is director of corporate broking at Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal

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