Whiddy honours brave WWI American airman


Posted on: 7th July, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

During World War I, the American Naval Air Service constructed a Sea Plane Base on Whiddy Island, ideally located to respond to the increase in U Boat activity in the Atlantic. While returning from a routine patrol on October 22, 1918, one of the sea planes crashed close to the shore of Whiddy Island resulting in the death of Petty Officer Walford August Anderson, who was the radio operator on the flight.

In conjunction with events all over Europe marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the Whiddy Island Development Association unveiled a memorial on the Island on Saturday, June 28, honouring this brave Officer. Guests at the ceremony included a granddaughter of one of the survivors of the crash. Also present was Lt. Col. Seán Coston, US Aircorps and Defence Attache to the American Embassy. The Irish Defence Forces, the American Legion, local search and rescue services, Mayor of Cork Alan Coleman, elected officials and members of the general public were all in attendance.

Tim O’Leary of the Whiddy Island Development Association speaks to Mary O’Brien about the history behind this momentous event.


IMAGE ABOVE: The hangers on the Whiddy base were dismantled and taken away but the huts were sold off at auction. 


Although there were only 64 and half hours flying time logged in war time on Whiddy — flying activities began on September 25 and the war ended in November — it is thought that if the war went on longer then Whiddy would have become the busiest of all the four seaplane bases in Ireland.

Flying activities at Whiddy commenced with the arrival of two Curtiss H16’s from Cobh. These planes were 96ft wide and 45ft long with two 400 HP Liberty engines mounted on the wings. The engines were built in Buffalo New York and the planes had five crew.

On October 22, 1918, Plane A1072 crashed while returning from patrol on killing the radio operator Walford August Anderson. The second plane A1078 continued to patrol alone until the arrival of two more planes later in October, which arrived from Cobh just before the armistice, so six planes in total flew from the Whiddy base.

The planes on Whiddy investigated several suspicious sightings and escorted five convoys and rendered assistance to an H 16 operating out of Cobh, which got in to distress whilst out on a mission. A number of instructional flights were under taken after the war and the planes were at the base until January 1919.

The hangers were dismantled and taken away but the huts were sold off at auction. “I believe one of them is still lived in on College Road in Cork,” says Tim O’Leary, Secretary, Whiddy Island Development Association.

All that remains today on Whiddy is the concrete bunker used for storing shells and the concrete base for the hangers and the radio mast.

“During the gathering festival on Whiddy last year, an interest in the base was reawakened and we decided to commemorate the young marine from Monett, Missouri who tragically died in that seaplane crash on October 22 1918,” says Tim.

Tim explains that there are many side twists to the Whiddy story. “Some of the Americans stationed on Whiddy were on the Leinster, the mail boat torpedoed out of Dublin on October 10, 1918 with the loss of over 500 souls.

“One of the marines who had been stationed on Whiddy Island, Leo Hogan from New York City, died on the Leinster. However, another marine, WG Russell Master Mariner was saved by Captain Hutchinson Ingham Cone, a former commander of the USS Dale, who was returning to England after inspecting the Irish bases. He had both legs broken in the explosion, which sank the Leinster but still managed to rescue GW Russell. Ingham Cone went on to become a Rear Admiral in the US Navy and had a ship named after him. This ship was used to retrieved John Glenn and his crew in their pod after returning from their space mission.”

Moran and Co. Builders began construction of the Whiddy base on December 16, 1917. The first American personnel, approx. 45 in number, arrived on March 12, 1918.They were billeted on the mainland until April 27 when sufficient barracks were completed on the island. On May 12, a six ton Packard truck arrived by barge on the island, which speeded up construction considerably.

The station was formally commissioned under Commander JC Townsend on July 4, 1918. Construction of a large radio tower and radio hut began on June 18 and was completed on August 12 of that year. The first hanger was completed on July 10, 1918.

The marines were housed in timber structures on stilts. There was even a bakery on the island and the Bantry locals used to barter eggs for bread.

“They had a big dance hall and two Sibins on the island,” says Tim.

Born and bred on the island, Tim says the concrete base left behind when the base closed became a dance hall for the locals and boats travelled over every Sunday from Bantry.

Other projects currently being developed by the Whiddy Island Development Association include a Community and Visitor Centre and picnic areas on the island.

Bikes can be hired on the island and historical walks are organised regularly.

The Whiddy Island Ferry operates six times a day all year round with the frequency increasing in the summer time.


From July 18 to 20, a food festival will take place on Whiddy, with organised angling and foraging trips and cooking demonstrations, as well as live music and entertainment. A number of new seafood products will be introduced during the weekend.

For more information log on to www.whiddyislandferry.com or contact Tim at 086 862 6734.


Latest News Articles:

Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat
Clonakilty town aims to get snowed under with the return of the Clonakilty Christmas Express
On call for Christmas
Have your say in shaping the future of Clonakilty
Dursey Island project passes first phase in Failte Ireland’s Grant Scheme

Join us on Facebook

Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
... See MoreSee Less

8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to www.cope-foundation.ie/donate. We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
... See MoreSee Less

15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

28th November, 2017  ·  

Jump to: