The 50th anniversary of the St.Phelim Aer Lingus tragedy in which the 4 crew and 57 passengers all died is to be commemorated at Rosslare on Saturday, March 24 next. There will be a wreath laying ceremony at the crash site with a Naval Vessel, the RNLI, Irish Lights, Irish Coastguard and other agencies present. A number of relatives will be taken to the site by the Navy for the ceremony. This will be followed by a Memorial Ceremony at Rosslare Harbour Memorial Park, writes Tom MacSweeney.
The tragedy occurred on March 24, 1968.
Aer Lingus flight EI 712 had left from Cork Airport at 10:32 a.m. on a direct service to Heathrow Airport, London and was cleared to fly at to FL170 (17,000 feet). The crew sent out a radio message at the Bannow reporting point at 10:57 local time stating they were at FL170.. They were instructed to change frequency to London Airways. Just eight seconds after first reporting to London Air Traffic Control a broken message was received which was later interpreted as ”Twelve thousand feet descending spinning rapidly. “The Viscount plane descended and struck the sea 1.7 nautical miles from Tuskar Rock. After the loss of contact, Air Traffic Control requested that Aer Lingus flight EI 362 which was heading to Bristol from Dublin to divert to an area west of the Strumble to see if they could spot anything on the water. They descended to 500 feet but nothing was seen.
At 11:25 a.m. a full alert was sounded. HMS Hardy, a Royal Navy Type 14 Frigate was the first ship to reach the possible crash area but found nothing.
It wasn’t until the search resumed on the following day that floating debris was sighted and over the next few days a total of fourteen bodies were recovered. The main wreckage was detected on the seabed by a trawler at a depth of 39 fathoms (234 feet/71.3 metres), 1.7 miles from Tuskar Rock.
Sean Boyce of the Rosslare Maritime Museum and the organising committee said:
“It is our hope to have as many of the relatives as possible in attendance. There will be a commemorative display which we are happy to open to the families.”
PLANNED PROGRAMME OF COMMEMORATION
10:40 a.m. Boarding the Naval Vessel
11:00 a.m. Naval vessel/Flotilla departs to the Tuskar site.
11:45 a.m. Wreath Laying Ceremony on Site.
12:45 a.m. Arrive back at Rosslare Harbour – Bus back to Hotel Rosslare.
13:00 a.m. Lunch – Hotel Rosslare
2:30 a.m. Flag ceremony –Raising of flags/half-mast/Irish/ Belgian/Swiss /UK/US
2:40 p.m. Ecumenical Service
3:00 p.m. Wreath laying ceremony / unveiling.
3:20 p.m. Speeches.
3:45 p.m. Raising of the flags, Reveille. National Anthem.
4:00 p.m. End of cermonies
For more information the Facebook St.Phelim Air Crash 50th Commemoration Page here