The Irish Adventure of Richard Kukura and Tommy Hulme and the fate of their Beaufighter JL710
Local Recollections – Corlough & Moherreagh
(Handed Down) as to what happened to the crew of Beaufighter JL710
The Corlough Landing:-
Source: This view is based on the recollection of the late Joseph McGovern, father of James Joseph 'Tucker' McGovern & his sister, Chrissy, from both of whom this account has come, together with comment from another family member now in England
What was reported: Joseph McGovern is reported to have said that one crew member parachuted into a field atop what is known as Quinn's Hill (the parachute was seen still on the field next morning; it had been initially mistaken for a skiff of overnight snow). The crew member is reported to have seen several lights in a thatched cottage house (now a stone ruin in a grove of trees) just past a cow byre ( a remnant of which is still visible). He is said to have gone down the hill to this house (which belonged to a Peter McGovern) and been met by the same man at his door with an axe in his hand. Apparently, the crew member was able to reassure Peter McGovern and secured direction to the nearby Corlough Presbytery (up the hill via an ass cart track).
There are different sub-versions: according to one version, the landing paddock was said to be lower down the hill; another, is that there were two houses that the crew member went to - one known as 'Phadrick's' (Peter's) & the other, known as 'Featheree's'; the crew member is said to have burnt his papers in the first and been fed in the second; this differs from the first view that has him being fed in the Presbytery; another snippet was that the priest, whom we know to have been Father John McGovern, gave the crewman a "Pair of Bad Shoes”, and that he, Father John, sent or told his nephew (Jack ‘Barney’ McManus) to show the crew member to the border but, on this same version, Jack only took him part of the way and then pointed him in the direction of the border.
The Moherreagh Landing:-
Source: Meanwhile, it emerged from our continuing inquiries that a second parachute landing site was in the area of Moherreagh. This view is based on the recollections of Frank Reilly as to what his Father reported seeing on the occasion of the crash. At the time, the Reilly's were living near the house of some people called Heavey in Moherreagh
What was reported: On the night of 17th March, Frank Reilly says that he was told by his late father, that he was visiting Heaveys when they heard the plane pass over (and possibly the subsequent explosion). They looked out and thought they saw something white in the sky. Later a voice outside called them to the door where they found a uniformed man who they took in and fed. There was a young boy in the house who was an orphan named Phil Reilly, but no relation to Frank Reilly
The Heaveys subsequently moved out of the district & Phil Reilly was last known to be in England. Frank Reilly believes that 'as the young boy', Phil, would have been 17 years old at the time.
Which Crew Member landed Where:
Initially, we assumed the crew member who landed on the Corlough site was Richard. This was probably because of the references to a young nephew which seemed to fit in with Richard's own early reference to the role of a young boy. And the photos we have provided of a landing site, the Presbytery, and anything else that related to Corlough, have been provided on the assumption that they bear on Richard's experience after landing.
As we were still wedded to this assumption when we only recently became aware of Moherreagh as the other landing site, we took it that this must be where the other (then unknown) crew member must have made his landing. But in the light of Richard's recollection we believe that crew member (whom we now know was Tommy) is more likely to have been the one who landed in Corlough This is because the elements of Richard's recollection and those of what was originally said about what happened at these landing sites fit better together on this new proposition. And so, contrariwise, Richard, seem to us to have been the crew member who landed in Moherreagh.
That is our view which we can elaborate on but we would be much more interested in anything Richard might have to say on these respective local accounts of what happened after he & Tommy departed their unfortunate Beaufighter.
John Patterson 23-05-2004