When Our Plane Hit the Mountain
In 1946, a plane of French Girl Guides crashed into Djouce Mountain, just off the Knockree to Roundwood section of the Wicklow Way. In the aftermath of World War Two, the Girl Guides were on their way to Ireland to enjoy a holiday camp in Rathfarnham. Miraculously, all the members of the flight survived.
Nearly sixty years after the original event, Suzanne Barnes wrote a story that was loosely based on the event. This was aired on RTÉ Radio in 2003. The feedback resulting from the broadcast was so great that Barnes was inspired to research the events in full that surrounded the crash. She tracked down a wide range of people in both Ireland and France to interview for the book. These included survivors, rescuers, doctors and locals.
This is the story of the crash and the subsequent rescue operation, where the rescuers themselves got into difficulties, some of them having to form human chains linking each other for support. It is a gripping story of adventure, peril, fortitude and ultimately - thanks to an amazing set of circumstances - survival.
From the foot of Djouce on the seaward side, I could see something glittering in the sun up near the summit. This was the resting place of the plane... I walked up close to her. She was rocking a little in the wind that came rushing down from the valley. In the cabin the first thing I saw was splints - of every shape and size, some bound with cotton wadding. There was a French prayer book. There were several small navy-blue berets lying about with tricolour linings. Stacked along one side of the cabin were tightly filled rucksacks. On top of the radio set just aft of the cockpit was a large sodden piece of turf.
Patrick Campbell 1946