Spitfire P8074
P/O Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe suffered engine failure on a routine convoy patrol. An American, he was with 133 (Eagle) Squadron RAF. This was made up of largely of fellow volunteer pilots from the USA. (At this stage of the war the US was still neutral)
‘Bud’ Wolfe was flying from RAF Eglinton (now City of Derry Airport). On the 30th November 1941 as he turned back for Eglinton, in a ‘permitted corridor’ that took him over neutral Eire his engine seized just shy of the border with the UK. He baled out leaving his Spitfire to bury itself in a peat bog on Glenshinny mountain hillside
The neutral status of Eire meant that Bud was interned and ended up in the Curragh prison camp with both fellow RAF flyers and those of the Luftwaffe that had been forced to land or bale out within Eire. Unlike a prisoner of war camp, those held had much more freedom, having given their parole they were even allowed into the local town on the understanding that would return.
After America entered the war following Pearl Harbor, Bud decided it was time to return to the war. On December 13th he caught a train from Dublin to Belfast and by the afternoon he was back with his squadron.
However, a political storm erupted over the affair and the neutral government of Eire threatened to withdraw the parole terms enjoyed by the other Allied internees – unless Bud Wolfe went back to the Curragh. A week later he was back in prison. Only in October 1943 did the southern Irish authorities return all Allied combatants. Bud returned to fly with the RAF and ultimately with the 78th Fighter Group at Duxford.
Following losses of aircraft during the Battle of Britain, wealthy Canadian business man and MP for Macclesfield, Sir Garfield Weston funded the purchase of initially 7 Spitfires (later to total 20). P8074 was the first and bore the title ‘Garfield Weston I’ on the tank cover
The crash site of P8074 lay in a remote peat bog and proved initially difficult to locate. Whilst checking sites that might be suitable for inclusion in the then forthcoming BBC series ‘Dig WW2’ the hunt for the site began in earnest. Having been led to what was believed was the location by a local enthusiast and having only found a very few fragments the search was abandoned for the day, a day that had included all 4 seasons of weather. Having a film crew with us meant frustration for the Derry based production company 360 Productions as well as us. However on the trek back to the vehicles parked a good mile back on the road a shallow depression was spotted that looked out of place. As it was approached the detector confirmed that the crater wasn’t natural. The film crew & local guide some 100 yards ahead got their reward after all.

The recovery was indeed filmed and shown as part of the programme (as was Spitfire EN223). The excavation revealed a huge amount of the Spitfire, including notable items such as Bud Wolfes flying helmet removed prior to baling out and the tank cover with the ‘Garfield Weston I’ legend intact. Early items to see light of day again were the 6 Browning .303 machine guns (2 had been recovered in 1941). The Irish Army were on hand to remove these and the ammunition found. However when examined the gun were found to be in remarkable condition, so much so that one able to be test fired.
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