Centenary of fatal military air crash in Crinkill commemorated

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john.ocallaghan

The centenary of the fatal military air crash in Crinkill House was commemorated last week with the unveiling of a plaque at the accident site.

On March 28 1919, CQS Thomas William Allen sustained horrific injuries after the plane he was a passenger in, nose dived into the roof of Crinkill house. Unfortunately, the Company Quartermaster died from his injuries in the nearby Birr Workhouse Infirmary, the following day.

On Thursday last, the centenary of the fatal crash was marked in Crinkill and there was a great turnout to unveil the plaque, located on the wall of Crinkill House, Boherdeal.

Speaking at the event, Michael Deegan, the Crinkill Tidy Villages Chairman, thanked everyone for coming along to mark the event. According to Michael, the pilot at the time luckily survived the crash, which hit the roof of Crinkill House but unfortunately Quartermaster Thomas William Allen, died the following day from his injuries and his remains were buried in the military cemetery.

He thanked Jonathan Pyle for allowing the Crinkill Tidy Villages, who organised the event, to erect the commemorative plaque on the wall of Crinkill House. “It’s a lovely plaque, which was prepared by Mark Devery,” he enthused.

With planes flying overhead, Brian Kennedy, President of the Birr Historical Society, then gave a brief history of the event to those gathered, saying it was a “great pleasure” to say a few words on this historical occasion.

Firstly, he commended the work that tidy villages association do to keep the history of the village alive as well as beautifying the area. “On March 28 1919, Company Quartermaster Thomas William Allen was in a plane being flown by William Taylor, the pilot. Ironically, Allen shouldn’t have been in the plane. He was recorded as being an unauthorised passenger.”

“The flight itself was AVR 0504J. It’s recorded in the Irish Independent that the pilot was nosediving near Crinkill House when he misjudged the loop, clipped a tree and went into the roof of what was Major Frend’s house.” Mr Kennedy then outlined the history of the occupants of the house at the time of the tragic incident.

“When the plane flew into the house, they had to effect entry through the bedroom as the plane was buried into the roof. Both of the gentlemen were taken out through the bedroom and down through the house. The Flight Lieutenant survived the crash and the man we are commemorating today, died the next day in Birr Workhouse Infirmary, which was just on the corner of the barracks site as we turn up here to Boherdeal.”

“It was a memorable occasion and anyone who lived in Crinkill at the time, would clearly remember it,” he continued. “It was obviously a huge and traumatic occasion for the village. The field that had the airfield ran parallel to the house at the time. For a plane to crash at time, was a huge event. Planes were in their infancy and the plane, which crashed was mainly made of timber and canvass and it crumpled on contact with the roof of the house.”

Mr Kennedy then outlined details of the deceased quartermaster’s wife Daisy Evelyn and their one son Archibald, who was born in 1918. The crowd was then informed the deceased was a member of the First County of London Yeomanry (or the Middlesex Yeomanry as they were known).

Jonathan Pyle, owner of Crinkill House, then said a few words of thanksto everyone for turning up before inviting the crowd inside to view some old photos and medical information, taken and recorded at the time of the actual crash in 1919.

Later, CQS Allen’s grave at Crinkill Military Cemetery, was visited and prayers were led by Fr Tom Hogan, PP, accompanied by Michael Deegan and Celine Cooke, of Crinkill Tidy Villages, who laid a wreath. A fly over by the local Ormand Flying Club was also held to mark the occasion.

Meanwhile, a huge thank you was extended to Brian Kennedy, President of Birr Historical Society, Jonathan Pyle of Polydome Greenhouses, The Thatch, Crinkill and Ormand flying club for all their help in making the event a success.

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