Spitfire to move to Ebrington museum

AFTER 70 years buried in a bog, the ‘Donegal Spitfire’ pulled from the bogland of Donegal last year by aviation archaeologist and historian Jonny McNee, from Claudy, will be permanently put on ‘chocs’ in the new Maritime Museum at Ebrington.

From a wartime perspective, the docklands of Londonderry and nearby airfield at Eglinton became one of the key docks for Allied Forces, and when it is installed at Ebrington the airplane will be one of a range of fascinating display pieces relating to the history of the city and it’s port and the vital role the waterway has played down through the centuries.

At a public talk on Wednesday night of last week at Waterside Library and Museum, Mr McNee spoke about how he discovered the Spitfire and the series of events that led to why the plane crashed and what happened to the pilot, Bud Wolfe, who was a US pilot who volunteered to serve in 113 Squadron for the RAF before America joined the war.

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Taking the audience on a two-hour voyage of discovery, Mr McNee related how a series of chance meetings only happened because his daughter, Grace, encouraged him to go to a garage shop for a packet of chocolate Buttons, because “chocolate Button help you find Spitfires”. The chance meetings resulted in the long lost aircraft being found, extracted and it’s component parts being cleaned and preserved, and in tandem with this recovery process the story of the plane’s pilot also emerged from the sands of time and will form part of the exhibition too.

Asked how he felt about the Spitfire’s final ‘home’, Jonny said: “What has been done up until now is an interim display. The long-term view is that the Maritime Museum is where it will be displayed. The feeling was it was from the City of Derry and will stay within the City of Derry.”

A spokeswoman for the City Council said: “The proposal includes permanent galleries looking at the area’s maritime history with particular focus on emigration and World War II exhibitions, including the spitfire excavation artefacts. The development will also include the city archive and genealogy services at the site, including a reading room, works studio and reprographics facilities and incorporate a summation of the history of Ebrington itself as a military barracks.”

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