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In September 1939 the then Irish Taoiseach, Eamon de Valera, announced that his government intended to keep Ireland out of the Second World War, a declaration of Irish neutrality. Eire (Rep. of Ireland) would be closed to all belligerent ships and aircraft of the war. Between September 1940 and June 1941, the fiercest period of the Battle of Britain would be fought in the skies over the British Isles between the German “Luftwaffe” and the British “RAF” and other allied air forces.

  "K-Lines" (No.2 Internment camp) was built in 1939 in the East side of the Curragh Camp. The No.1 Internment camp was situated in the West side of the camp and members of the IRA were imprisoned there. The main function of the K-Lines was the internment any servicemen of either the axis or allied forces, who were captured on Irish soil during the Second World War. It would prevent their escape and thus prevent them returning to their respective countries and rejoining the war effort.

  In appearance, K-Lines was very similar to most POW camps scattered in Europe at that time. It was modeled on the No.1 Internment camp which was built by the British forces during their occupation of Ireland. It consisted of a rectangular perimeter fence made of barbed wire, with large double gates at the outer entrance. There was then an internal barbed wire fence and between it and the perimeter fence, a grass corridor. An elevated gun post marked each of the four corners of the perimeter and was connected by the grass corridor, which was patrolled by the camp guards. The area inside was divided into two compounds by a corrugated iron fence topped with barbed wire. There was separate pedestrian gates to enter each compound. Inside these gates was a parole hut, which crossed the dividing fence and had a door and window in each compound. The entry and exit of the internees was controlled from this hut. One compound was occupied by the German forces, known as "G" camp and the other occupied by the allied forces, known as "B" camp (because the first allied internees were British). 

Members of the Irish Local Defence Forces (LDF) interchanged the guard duty of both No.1 and No.2 Internment Camps on a regular basis. There was a tense relationship between the guards and the IRA internees and initially this tension would effect the attitude of the Irish soldiers towards the new internees of K-Lines. 

For the first few weeks, security at the camp was tight and the internees privileges were limited. The General Officer Commanding Curragh Command, Colonel Thomas McNally considered the internees to be prisoners-of-war and stated "These prisoners in my opinion are the type who consider it a duty to effect escape at the first available opportunity". This attitude was also adopted by Commandant James Guiney, OC of both No.1 and No.2 Internment camps and thus would pass down the chain of command. In September of 1940, the German minister to Ireland, Edouard Hempel, visited K-Lines where he found the German internees to be uncomfortable with the conditions of their imprisonment. Hempel requested that there be a relaxation of the prison like procedures and during October 1940, the Irish Department of External Affairs agreed to grant certain liberties and privileges to the German internees. The German officers were paid £3 per week and the other ranks £2 per week as well as each to purchase civilian clothing.  These payments were billed to the German government.  The internees were allowed to attend religious services.  They were given garden tools to cultivate their own vegetables. They were facilitated with a wireless radio for entertainment and keep in touch with the affairs of the war. Internees could avail of a postal system, which was however strictly censored.  There was also a limited parole system introduced for all ranks allowing them to leave the compound, on their word of honor that they would return by the times laid down.

While on parole, the Curragh Camp offered the most modern sports and recreation facilities in the country at the time. These included a gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, tennis, squash and handball courts and playing fields for all outdoor sports. The initial strict parole system was relaxed gradually in order to avail of these facilities. Parole consisted of a signed statement on paper declaring:

" I hereby promise to be back in the compound at ____o'clock and, during my absence, not to take part in any activity connected with the war or prejudicial to the interests of the Irish state".

Parole was initially for a period of three hours each afternoon but gradually extended to two nights a week to attend the three cinemas in the Curragh. This soon expanded to cinemas in the neighboring towns of Kilcullen, Newbridge and Kildare. While going to these towns the internees had to ware civilian attire and they were forbidden to enter pubs or hotels, talk to the locals or visit their homes. The Irish soldiers would also follow the internee's movements mainly for their own protection. There would have been a threat to the British from IRA elements and to the Germans from pro-British locals.

Officers and NCOs were accommodated two to a room. The enlisted men were housed in 20 X 120 foot wooden huts divided into six rooms containing a bed, table, chair, electric light, chest of drawers, wardrobe, mirror, curtains and a mat. The huts were heated by small coal burning stoves. Two of these huts had abolitions attached containing two toilets, two showers and three wash hand basins. Hot water was available from 0800 hrs until 2130 hrs. Meals were served three times daily. Breakfast consisted of bacon, eggs, tea, and bread and butter. At 1300 hrs the main meal usually consisted of roast beef, turnips and potatoes with creamed pudding as desert. Fish was served on Fridays. Bread and butter, Tea and jam were available in the evenings.

Belligerent aircraft would end up on Irish soil for one of two reasons:

1.    The allied pilots would land, mistaking Eire for Britain. This was quite common considering that aircraft navigation systems then were very basic compared to today’s standards.

2.    Aircraft would either be damaged during battle or run low on fuel, forcing the pilots to crash or emergency land. In the case of allied pilots they sometimes could not make it to Britain or Northern Ireland. Luftwaffe pilots would land in Eire in preference interment in Britain.

When a warplane was forced to land in Eire, the crew would destroy all documents, maps and as much of the aircraft as possible, before they were captured. Allied pilots, on realizing where they had landed would attempt to travel to the North of Ireland, although not usually with much success.

Escape from K-Lines for German internees would prove undesirable, as France was the nearest axis occupied country to Ireland and travelling there, especially via England would prove very difficult. On the other hand, if British internees succeeded in escaping they would only have to travel little over one hundred miles in order to cross the boarder into Northern Ireland. However, the practice of breaking parole in an attempted to return home was condoned by the respective governments as it was seen as an abuse of privilege. Each internee had a duty to affect his escape but this would have to be done legitimately in the form of a break out from the camp. It was also the duty of the military guard in K-lines, to the escape or rescue of the internees. The guards were armed with rifles but ordered not to fire at internees who attempted escape. Even if an internee successfully effected escape from the compound, the Curragh Camp and surrounding towns were populated with off duty troops stationed in the Curragh. It was not long before Irish authorities had a good intelligence network known as G2, to counter escape attempts. Yet many pro British people were willing to aid the allied internees and an organization known as the “Escape Club” was formed. It was headed by Dr. Hugh Wilson who was a veteran of the First World War and established by M19, British Military Intelligence. The “Escape Club” would organize and aid many British internees to attempt escape during the war. 

Conditions continued to improve in K-lines and in January 1941, it was authorised for parole to be extended to three hours a day for exercise and four hours each evening for recreation. The parole area consisted of the Curragh, and the three neighboring towns of Kildare, Newbridge and Killcullen. The British senior officers were allowed to telephone their diplomatic representative at any time. The ban on frequenting hotels in the local towns was lifted. Internees who were married were given extended parole from 1030 hrs to 2230 hrs to spend with their wives who travelled over to visit them. German internees took English lessons from local teachers every afternoon. Oberleutnant Kurt Mollenhauer incessantly fought with the Irish authorities for further concessions for his men. In May 1941, it was decided to extend parole to the neighboring town of Naas and internees were permitted to engage in horse riding. The restriction on visiting private homes was lifted and internees were permitted to attend local dances and functions. Tickets were obtained for the German and British officers to attend the Irish Derby at the Curragh racecourse that month.

 

 



The following gives an account on the Aircraft and Crews that landed in neutral Ireland.


Date:  20th August 1940

Location:  Mount Brandon, Brandon Point, Co. Kerry

Aircraft Type:  Focke Wulf Condor

Crew Members:  (6)

          Oberleutnant  Kurt Mollenhauer  (Commander)
          Stabsfeldwebel Robert Beumer (Pilot)
          Feldwebel  Ludwig Wochner  (Navigator)
          Dr. Eric Kruger (Meteorologist)
          Unteroffizier Hans Bell (Sergeant)
         Gefreiter  Kurt Kyck (Corporal)

Notes:  The German crew of the Focke Wulf Condor aircraft crashed into the cloud covered Mount Brandon while trying to find their location while on weather reconnaissance mission. By sheer luck only two of the crew were injured in the crash. The crew burned the remainder of the aircraft.  On 31st August 1940 Mollenhauer and Beumer were transferred from Tralee Hospital to the Curragh Military Hospital and the four other crew members were moved from Collins Barracks, Cork  to “K Lines”, or the No. 2 Internment Camp, as it was officially called.
 


Date:  29th  September 1940

Location:  Kilmuckridge, Co. Wexford

Aircraft Type:  Hurricane Fighter

Crew Members:  (1)

            Flying Officer  Paul Mayhew

Notes: This fighter aircraft was one of eight that were scrambled from their base in Bristol, England. They intercepted a flight of German Heinkel 111 Bombers approaching from the South of England. Mayhew shot down one of the bombers, but spent too much time following the others and lost his bearings in the process. Running low on fuel and thinking that he was over southern Wales, he landed in a field close to the village of Kilmuckridge Co. Wexford, were he was taken into custody by members of the Local Defence Force (LDF).  Mayhew was initially held under armed guard in Ceannt Barracks, Curragh Camp, while a new barbed-wire compound was built as an extension to K-Lines.  On 17th October 1940 Mayhew was transferred to K-Lines and was to remain the lone British internee for almost two months.

 


Date:  25th November 1940

Location:  Innishvicillann, Blasket Islands, Co. Kerry

Aircraft Type:  Bolhm & Voss Flying Boat

Crew Members:  (5)

          Leutnant  Konrad Neymeyr  (Pilot)
            Unteroffizier   Hans Biegel
                                  Wilhelm Krupp
            Feldwebels     Erwin Sack
                                   Ernst Kalkowski

Notes: The crew of the flying boat were on a reconnaissance mission searching for Aillied shipping in the Atlantic. The aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot Leutnant  Konrad Neymeyr , decided to put down the aircraft at the first opportunity and chose the sound between Innishvicllaun and the Great Blasket. The crew used Machine Gun fire to destroy the aircraft. They survived unnoticed on the uninhabited island for three days eating some meat they cut from a sheep they had shot and some rabbits. On the 28th November they set out for the Great Blasket Island in two rubber dinghies. All five men were brought to the mainland by fishing boat and transferred to Collins Barracks, Cork for interrogation by Officers of the Army Intelligence, G2.  The airmen were transferred to The Curragh Camp on 1st December 1940.

 


Date:  21st December 1940

Location:  Dundalk, Co. Louth

Aircraft Type:  Miles Master

Crew Members:  (2)

            Pilot Officer  William Proctor
               Pilot Officer  Aubrey Covington

Notes:  The crew of the Miles Master had taken off from England to fly to the Isle of Man where both were stationed. Confident that they would have no problem finding the island, they did not prepare a flight plan and got lost when they ran into heavy weather. They landed in Co. Louth thinking they were in Northern Ireland. On finding out they were just south of the border they tried to take off again but the surface was too bumpy and their propeller struck the ground, causing the plane to flip over. They two men were very lucky to survive without serious injury and were taken to The Curragh

 


Date:  21st December 1940

Location:  Buncrana, Co. Donegal

Aircraft Type:  Blenheim Bomber

Crew Members:  (3)

            Sergeant  Herbert Ricketts (Pilot)
               Sergeant  Douglas Newport
               Sergeant  Sydney Hobbs

Notes:  The crew of the Blenheim Bomber bailed out of their aircraft while returning from a patrol in the North Atlantic. The crew were only a few miles from Northern Ireland when they ran out of fuel.  All crew parachuted safely to the ground, although one landed on an island in Lough Swilly. He was picked up the following day. All three were transferred to The Curragh and spent Christmas in K-Lines.

 

Date:  24th  January 1941

Location:  Quigles Point, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Aircraft Type:  Whitley Bomber

Crew Members:  (5)

            Flying Officer  Leslie Ward  (Canadian)
               Sergeant  George Jefferson (Belfast)

Notes:  The Whitley Bomber was returning from a routine sea patrol. Unable to locate their base in Limavady, they crossed and re-crossed the Scottish coast and went up and down the West coast of Ireland before pilot, Flying Officer Leslie Ward from Vancouver, Canada, gave the order to bale out as they were running out of fuel. Unfortunately, the first three crew members  to jump landed in the ocean and were drowned. Ward and Jefferson were lucky to land on firm ground. The aircraft itself crashed about three miles from Quigley Point.

 


Date:  24th  January 1941

Location:  Skreen, Co. Sligo

Aircraft Type:  Hudson Bomber

Crew Members:  (4)

              Pilot Officer    John Shaw (English)
                                    Denys Welpy (English)
                                    Roderick Cowper (English)

              Sergeant          Norman Todd (Scottish)

Notes:  After running out of fuel and thinking they were landing in Scotland the crew of the Hudson Bomber made a pancake landing on a beach near Skreen Co Sligo. All crew survived without injury and were transferred to The Curragh Camp.

 


Date:  5th  February  1941

Location:  Cashelfeane Hill, Schull, Co. Cork

Aircraft Type:  Focke Wulf 200

Crew Members:  (6)

                Feldwebel        Max Hohaus

Notes:  The Luftwaffe crew of a Focke Wulf 200 Bomber were not so lucky when they crashed in thick fog into Cashelfeanr Hill, about four miles from Schull Co. Cork, in the early hours of the 5th February. Five members of the six man crew perished in the crash while a sixth, Feldwebel Max Hohaus, survived with horrific burns. He was taken to St. Brichin’s Military Hospital, Dublin, where he remained for the next two-and-a-half years.

 


Date:  3rd  March  1941

Location:  Rostoonstown, Co. Wexford

Aircraft Type:  Heinkel 111 Bomber

Crew Members:  (5)

          Leutnant Alfred Heinzl (Pilot)
            Feldwebel Arthur Voigt (Navigator)
            Feldwebel  Rudolf Hengst
            Gefreiter  Maximilliam Galler          
            Gefreiter Gerd Rister (Rear Gunner killed in flight)

Notes:  The Heinkel 111 Bomber had been hit and damaged during an attack on Ailled convoy in the Atlantic. The crew also suffered a casualty when the rear gunner of the bomber Gefreiter Gerd Rister was shot dead in the same attack. One of the bombers engine had been knocked out and the other damaged. The crew also battled a fire in the tail section of the bomber. With so much damage to the bomber the crew had to landing as soon as possible.  The navigator Voigt selected a location in Co. Wexford and the bomber limped its way to a wheels up landing on a beach in Rostoonstown, Co. Wexford. The crew immediately alighted from the bomber and removed the body of fellow crew member Gefreiter Rister. They then set about destructing the bomber by firing Machine Gun fire at the aircraft until it exploded into a ball of flames. Alll four surviving crew members were quickly arrested and transferred to The Curragh Camp.

 


Date:  13th  March  1941

Location:  Galway Bay, Co. Galway

Aircraft Type:  Whitley Bomber

Crew Members:  (5)

            Pilot Officer David Midgely (Pilot)
            Sergeant Robert Harkell
            (Three other crew members died in the crash)

Notes:  The Whitley Bomber go into trouble over Galway Bay and crashed into the sea, two of the crew managed to bale out before the crash, three other crew members went down with the aircraft. Pilot officer David Midgely landed in the water between Ardfree Point and Renville pier and managed to swim ashore. Sergeant Robert Harkell was fortunate enough to land on the golf links at Salthill.

 


Date:  13th  March  1941

Location:  Termonfeckin, Co Louth

Aircraft Type:  Blenheim Fighter

Crew Members:  (1)

            Sergeant David Southerland

Notes:  Sergeant Southerland made a forced landing at Termonfeckin, Co. Louth after his fighter aircraft got into trouble. He broke his ankle in the crash.

 

Date:  14th March 1941

Location:  Clontarf, Co Dublin

Aircraft Type: 

Crew Members:  (1)

            Sergeant Stanislau Kerniewski

Notes:  Sergeant Kerniewski was stationed at Kemble in England as part of a Free Polish unit. He got lost on a training flight when, seeing the lighted city, he realised he was over Dublin, so he put down safely in the water off Clontarf and swam ashore.

 


Date:  1st April 1941

Location:  Dunbratten Head, Co Waterford.

Aircraft Type:  Heinkel 111 Bomber

Crew Members:  (5)

            Leutnant Heinz Grau (Pilot)
            Feldwebel Georg Fleischmann
            Oberfeldwebel  Ernst Lorra
            Unteroffizier Otto Jaegerr     
            Unteroffizier Ernst Gensen 

Notes:  The Heinkel Bomber had been shot up in an attack on some ships in the Bristol Channel. An engine had been knocked out and there was no question of their being able to return back to their base in Tours, France, so decided to make for Ireland. After landing successfully they quickly set about destroying the aircraft.

 


Date:  16th April 1941

Location:  Calf Island, Schull, Co. Cork

Aircraft Type:  Bomber

Crew Members:  (5)

            Leutnant Ernst Muller (Pilot)
            Feldwebel Karl Macht
            Feldwebel Georg Sigl
            Oberfeldwebel  Alfred Jackel
            Gefreiter Willi Salbenblatt

Notes: The crew of the German Bomber ditched their aircraft into the sea after it experienced difficulties.  All crew were transferred to the Curragh wrapped in blankets.

 

 

Date:  24th April 1941

Location:  Corbally, Tramore, Co. Waterford.

Aircraft Type:  Fairly Fighter

Crew Members:  (1)

            Captain Kazimiers Baranowski

Notes: After running low on fuel, Captain Baranowski landed his aircraft on the main Tramore-Waterfofd road at Corbally. He was part of the Free Polish Unit based in England. And at 41 years of age, he was the oldest of the Allied internees.

 


Date:  6th May 1941

Location:  Irish Sea, Off Blackwater, Co Wexford

Aircraft Type:  Bomber

Crew Members:  (4)

            Oberleutnant Walter Hollborn
            Unteroffizier Josef Emmerich

            (Two other crew members went down with the aircraft)

Notes The bomber was shot down by a British fighter some three-and-a-half miles off the Irish Coast, the survivors managed to scramble into a rubber dinghy and made it ashore at Blackwater, Co. Wexford.

 


Date:  22nd  May  1941

Location:  Leopardstown Race Course, Co Dublin

Aircraft Type:  Beaufighter

Crew Members:  (3)

            Flight Lt  Hugh Verity
            Flying Officer John Holgate
            Sergeant William Barnett

Notes The aircraft was on a flight from Gibraltar to England when it got into difficulties and the pilot made a forced landing in a field next to the Leopardstown Race Course Co. Dublin. 

 

 

Date:  10th June 1941

Location:  Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford

Aircraft Type:  Fighter

Crew Members:  (1)

            Pilot Officer Maurice Motte

Notes: Pilot Officer Motte was part of a Free French Unit operation out of England. He had been involved in an attack on a German Bomber in the sky over Ireland. The German Aircraft a Heinkel Bomber with a crew of five tried to make an emergency landing near Churchtown, Co. Waterford, but burst into flames after hitting a stone wall, killing all crew members.  Officer Mott aircraft was also damaged in the skirmish and had to make an emergency landing not too far from Kilmacthomas Co. Waterford.

 


Date:  21st August 1941

Location:  Athboy, Co Meath

Aircraft Type:  Hurricane Fighter

Crew Members:  (1)

            Sergeant Ros Tees

Notes: Sergeant Tees was the first member of the Royal Canadian Air Force to be interned in Ireland. He got lost while on a flight from Halvington, near Bristol, to Clyde. He had taken off with three Hurricane fighters but got lost after his radio went down. Running low on fuel, he made a forced landing near Athboy, Co. Meath.

 


Date:  26th August 1941

Location:  Balgooly, Kinsale, Co Cork

Aircraft Type:  JU 88 Bomber

Crew Members:  (4)

            Leutnant Rudolf Lauer
            Leutnant Ludwig Stockbauer
            Gefreiter Herbert Schulze
            Gefreiter Gerhard Drechsel

Notes: While on a bombing raid the JU 88 developed engine trouble and the crew soon realised that they had no hope of making it back to France, they decided to land in Ireland. They crash-landed at Balgooly and none of the crew was injured. On the ground they proceeded to destroy the aircraft.  They were quickly arrested and taken to the Curragh Camp and K-Lines.

 


Date:  4th October 1941

Location:  Glenadown Mountains

Aircraft Type:  Hampden Bomber

Crew Members:  (4)

            Pilot Sgt H. J Newby
            Sergeant  Fred Tisdall (Navigator)
            Sergeant James Wakelin
            Sergeant David Reid

Notes:  The Hampden bomber got lost after its radio was damaged by German anti-aircraft fire while returning from a bombing raid. They were also running low on fuel, so the Welsh Pilot ordered the crew to bale out, thinking they were over Scotland. All aircrew landed safely and the aircraft crashed into the Glenadown Mountains.

 


Date:  23rd October 1941

Location:  Long Island, Schull, Co Cork.

Aircraft Type:  Blenheim Bomber

Crew Members:  (3)

            Sergeant Paul Webster
            Sergeant Charles Brady
            Sergeant Douglas Woodman
(Sgt. Woodman Died the following Day as a result of injuries received in the crash landing.

Notes The Blenheim Bomber got into difficulties off the south coast and crash landed in the sea near Long Island off Schull Co. Cork.  Sergeant Douglas Woodman received severe chest injuries and was taken to Mallow Hospital where he died the next day. The remaining crew members were taking to the Curragh Camp.  All were members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

 


Date:  25th October 1941

Location:  Quilty, Co Clare

Aircraft Type:  Wellington Bomber

Crew Members:  (6)

            Pilot Officer  Ralf Keefer (Pilot) Canadian
            Pilot Officer  Jack Calder (Navigator) Canadian
            Sergeant Alex Virtue
            Sergeant Maurice Browne
            Sergeant Leslie Daiper
            Sergeant Albert Dalton

Notes: The crew of this Wellington Bomber found themselves in trouble on returning from a night time bombing raid over Germany. The crew had inadvertently over flown Britain and found them running out of fuel. With minutes of fuel left and nowhere to land in the darkness, the Pilot ordered everybody to bale out.  All crew landed safely and the Wellington Bomber crashed in Quilty Co. Clare.

 


Date:  30th November 1941

Location:  Moneydarragh Co. Donegal

Aircraft Type:  Spitfire Fighter

Crew Members:  (1)

            PO Roland Wolf (American)

Notes: On a foggy Sunday morning in Moneydarrage, local people could hear but not see the aircraft flying overhead. Then through the fog they could see the lone figure of a man descending under a parachute and the crashing sound as his aircraft slammed into the countryside in the distance. PO Wolf was to spend the next two and a half years in the Curragh as the only American to be interned.

 


Date:  16th December 1941

Location:  Clogher Co. Donegal

Aircraft Type:  Spitfire

Crew Members:  (1)

            Sergeant Duncan Fowler (Canadian)

Notes: Difficulties with his aircraft made Sergeant Fowler make a pancake landing on a strand near Clogher. He was promptly arrested by a member of the LDF and transported to The Curragh Camp.

 


Date:  16th December1941

Location:  Galway Bay

Aircraft Type:  Sunderland Flying Boat

Crew Members:  (9)

            Flight Lt  Grant Fleming (Pilot)
            Sergeant  Jimmy Masterson

            Seven other crew members perished in the sea.

Notes:  On returning from a patrol in the Atlantic the aircraft was running low on fuel. The pilot tried to put the sea plane down in Galway Bay. On contact with the water the outer engine port wing broke off and the aircraft began to list and sink. The pilot ordered the crew to abandon the plane. Seven members perished in the freezing December waters. Only two made to land safely.

 

Date:  21st December 1941

Location:  Co. Louth

Aircraft Type:  Grumman Wildcat

Crew Members:  (1)

            Sub Lieutenant Bruce Girdlestone (New Zealand)

Notes : Sub Lieutenant Girdlestone had taken off from the Aircraft Carrier Illustrious on a flight to the aerodrome on the Mull of Kintyre. He had no maps or radio and was soon lost. Eventually he made a crash landing on the most northerly peninsula in Co. Louth. He was driven to the Curragh the next day.

 


Date:  26th December 1941

Location:  Waterville, Co. Kerry

Aircraft Type:  JU 88

Crew Members:  (4)

            Inspektor Arthur Klanke
            Unteroffizier Werner Kipp
            Unteroffizie Bruno Hullmann
            Unteroffizie Rudolf Beckmann

Notes:  The crew of the JU 88 crash landed after engine trouble. None of the crew were injured in the landing and were all soon settling down in the Curragh.