Infamous airman who 'jumped ship' speaks to the nation

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Eddie Dillon
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Infamous airman who 'jumped ship' speaks to the nation

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From the 'Limerick Leader', 16 April 2005

"THE man who stole an air force plane from Shannon Airport over 50 years ago this month shared his story with the nation on Marian Finucane's show on RTE Radio One.

Alan Thornton, who now lives in Britain, told the nation how, in February 1942, he and three other stole a Walrus plane from Shannon with the intention of flying it to Cherbourg to join the Luftwaffe.

However, he only got as far as Cornwall when he was only intercepted by the RAF and forced to land in the South of England.

He was arrested by the British before being handed back - along with the plane - to the Irish authorities. Following a court martial, he was dismissed as an officer and received a 16 month jail sentence.

The incident caused a lot of embarrassment among the Air Corps personnel given Ireland's neutral stance during the war.

Shannon remains the only Irish airport from which a Government plane was ever stolen by one of its own employees.

The plane is now in an aviation museum in Yeovilton in Britain.

Ironically, Alan went on the join the RAF after serving his prison sentence and finally saw action in Greece.

Alan's remarkable story emerged when he contacted the show after Marian Finucane issued an appeal for information about the incident."

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