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Commemoration of Aircraft Crash at Legnagappoge Glen - 6 March 2011

Memorial at Legnagappoge GlenOn Sunday last, March 6th, the Plumbridge community welcomed to the village the families of the five men who had been onboard Avro Anson LV153, the aircraft that crashed into Mullaghclogha Mountain on 6th March 1945, 66 years ago to the day.

The crewmembers, four of whom lost their lives that night, were from Ontario, Canada, Bondi, New South Wales and England. Their families had travelled considerable distances to join Glenelly Historical Society in what was a poignant commemoration of a tragic event.

In hosting the event, the Society sought to remember the loss of young lives. It was felt important that the assistance and compassion of people living close to Legnagappoge at that time should be acknowledged too. Until just recently, nothing was known locally of those who died. The sole survivor, Flight Sergeant Michael Shaxson had returned to Plumbridge, together with his wife, Doreen in 1982. Michael has since passed away, but his wife, daughter Joanna, son-in-law Richard Oldham and grandson Alex Harvey had travelled to be in Plumbridge. Glenelly Historical Society's Chairman, William McKelvey spoke of the Society's regret that local people had not had the opportunity to express grief at that time. They had held memories of the sight of four men, wrapped in their parachutes, being drawn off the mountainside and being taken away.

Glenelly Historical Society was pleased to host families of those who had helped save the life of the one survivor. Friends, Andy Duffy and Andy Griffin had chanced to come upon the man who had been thrown clear of the wreckage. They carried him some distance. Michael had been cared for by young Mary Donaghey and her sister, in their cottage in Carrickayne. Neighbour Pat Devine had made his way to Strangalwilly Post Office to seek the emergency services.

Early on Sunday morning, relatives travelled up to a site at the foot of Mullaghclogha, where a memorial plaque had been erected by committee member, Michael Conaghan and Chairman, William McKelvey.

Rachel McKelvey and Niall Murphy read poetry and poems. Catherine Blee played a poignant musical reflection.

After noon in the village, a display hosted by Omagh Model Flying Club in Bertie's Holm attracted considerable attention.

The main Commemorative event was held in the Parochial Hall. The setting was enhanced by a display of 1940s material contributed by Briege McClean, Live and Learn Project and the Ulster American Folk Park. Philip Faithfull had brought along his impressive collection of World War II memorabilia.

The Society's guests were entertained with music, song and dance. Profiles of the crewmembers who had been on that fateful flight were on display. Sgt Richard Button RAF was just 19 when he died. His relatives from Yorkshire had spoken of him being a popular pianist, who played in a band 'The 7 to 11 Hellcats'.

Relatives of Flight Sergeant Robert Gillian RAAF had travelled from Ballycastle. Robert, from Bondi, New South Wales, had acted as godfather to a cousin's child in August 1944, just months before his death. James Luke, his godson was in Plumbridge for the event.

Flying Officer Ian MacFadyen RCAF had family connections in Mull, Scotland. His parents had emigrated to Port Arthur, Ontario. His cousins, Ian and Cameron MacClean had travelled from Tobermory.

Warrant Officer Jack Pennack was from Southend on Sea. His daughter Jackie was regrettably unable to attend the commemoration but had forwarded a thought-provoking reflection.

Rose Mary Murphy Glenelly Historical Society spoke of the sense of appreciation the crew's family members had for what Glenelly Historical Society was doing to mark what the tragic loss of their loved ones. She expressed on behalf of Glenelly Historical Society, a huge gratitude to the people of the village and surrounding areas for the contribution they made to welcoming their visitors.

A video of the event is available locally. Some clips from the video are available now on You Tube. Because this website uses frames it can not access the clips directly. To open the clip in a new window hold down the 'shift' key when clicking the link.

Rose Mary's Introduction

Rachel's Reflection

Niall's Reflection

Catherine's violin Reflection

Unveiled memorial

Musicians in hall

BBC Community "Plaque in the Sperrins"

BBC in action
'Donaghey's house' where Michael was cared for
BBC in action
'Donaghey's house' where Michael was cared for
Jo Shaxson and son Alex Mrs Shaxson and Ambrose
Jo Shaxson and son Alex
Mrs Shaxson and Ambrose
Button family, Sheffield Shaxson family at crash site
Button family, Sheffield
Shaxson family at crash site
Group at crash site Niall and Michael
Group at crash site
Niall and Michael
Rachel reading Rose Mary speaking
Rachel reading
Rose Mary speaking
Unveiling the memorial Memorial inscription
Unveiling the memorial
Memorial inscription
Chairman speaking Musicians in hall
Chairman speaking
Musicians in hall