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Television Spitfire Dig in Eire

Spitfire IIa
RAF Serial: P8074 ‘Garfield Weston 1’
133 (Eagle) Squadron
Pilot: P/O Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe
Date: 30 November 1941
Place: Glenshinny Mountain, Co Donegal, Eire

Pilot Officer ‘Bud’ Wolfe was returning from a patrol over the Atlantic when his engine seized. With no hope of making a successful landing in the mountainous terrain, he baled out safely. The Spitfire dived into boggy ground in a remote area and was lost for 70 years.

The site was excavated in 2011 and filmed by Derry-based 360 Productions for the BBC as part of the Dig WW2 series presented by Dan Snow.

Spitfire P8074

Spitfire P8074 was paid for and presented to the RAF by the wealthy Canadian businessman Sir Garfield Weston and the Spitfire had ‘Garfield Weston I’ painted on its cowling. Its exact crash site was not known and many hours were spent searching the difficult terrain. It was only by accident that a small depression was spotted that was out of keeping with landscape – it turned out to be the crater made by the crash.

Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe

American P/O ‘Bud’ Wolfe from McGehee, Arkansas, joined the Canadian Air Force in order to fight in WW2 because the USA had not yet entered the war. He was flying a Spitfire from RAF Eglinton (now City of Derry Airport) on a patrol over the Atlantic and was on his way back when his engine seized. With no hope of making a successful landing in the mountainous terrain, he baled out safely. Both Bud and his Spitfire came down Eire (Southern Ireland) which is not part of Britain and was not at war.  As Eire ‘neutral’ Bud was interned in the Curragh Internment Camp, Dublin, with other RAF men – and the Luftwaffe!

After America entered the war on December 7th, 1941, Bud decided to ‘escape’ and re-join the RAF. On December 13th he caught a train to Belfast, Northern Ireland, (British territory) but following a political storm the British Government ordered him to return to the internment camp once more.

Bud tried re-join the RAF eight times before he succeeded. He escaped to England via Belfast, and joined the US Air Force as a fighter pilot. He later flew in Korea and Vietnam, and retired having flown 12,000 hours and 900 combat missions. Bud died in Florida in 1994.

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