AN AMERICAN World War II fighter plane has been recovered from a field in County Monaghan, 76 years after it first crash landed there.
Second Lieutenant Milo E Rundall from Iowa was just 22 when the P38 Lightning aircraft he was piloting crashed in in a stony field near Castleblayney on December 17th, 1942.
Rundall bailed out of the plane after getting lost during an evening flight from the eastern shores of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland to his home base with the 82nd Fighter group at the US Army Air Station 344, Eglinton Derry, on what is now the City of Derry Airport.
Rundall went on to play a role in the Allies’ North Africa campaign against Germany but was eventually shot down and taken prisoner in January 1943.
He survived the remainder of the war and eventually returned to his hometown in Iowa, where he remained until he died in 2006.
The remnants of his P38 Lightning, however, remained in Ireland.
While much of the wreckage was recovered by Irish Defense Forces working at the time, recent surveys of the area using ground-penetrating radar technology led to further discoveries and the first-ever licensed excavation of a second World War US fighter plane in Ireland.
Students Queen’s University Belfast, Foyle College and Ballybay Community College worked closely with officials from the Monaghan County to uncover the remaining parts of the twin-engined fighter last Saturday.
“This excavation will be the final project in our three-year examination of the impact of the Second World War on our border county,” Liam Bradley from Monaghan County Museum told the Irish Times.
“Other parts of the P38 wreckage will be put on display in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Tower Museum which already proudly hosts the 2011 recovered remains of Spitfire P8074 flown by US Eagle pilot Bud Wolfe,” he said.
Rundall’s surviving daughter Merryl has already been contacted regarding the discoveries and is planning on visiting Ireland soon to learn more about her father’s plane and experience in the Emerald Isle.