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Desmond Anthony O’Connell

Admitted to:

Roe Valley Hospital. RAF Hospital Halton (27/05/41)

Date of Injury:

27/04/1941

D.O.B/Age when admitted:

19/12/1919 (21)

Cause of Incident:

Crashed. Flying incident.

Transferred to QVH:

20/10/1941

Injuries:

Burns to face,hands and legs.

No. of Operations at East Grinstead:

7



IDENTITY CARD

This is to certify that the patient mentioned below and whose description is stated hereon is the authorised holder of this Identity card.


Forename:

Desmond Anthony

Surname:

O'Connell

Service No:

754811

Nationality:

British.


Awards/Honours:

---

Patient Unit:

502 Sqn

Profession:

Observer

Patient Rank:

Sgt

Death:

---

Age at Death:

---

Dr Rank:

Dr Unit:

Notes:

O'Connell joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1938 at 19. He was assigned as an observer to 502 Sqn Coastal Command, RAF Limavady, Northern Ireland.

On 27 April 1941, O'Connell and his crew members were given the task of locating and sinking the Bismarck. Their Whitley was overloaded with an extra person, fuel and bombs, and the extra weight meant that it was unable to clear the mountains by the base, resulting in a crash. O'Connell crawled from the wreckage with a head injury, but the fuel soaking his uniform caught fire as he escaped.

The crew walked three miles to a farmhouse where they were able to phone an ambulance. O'Connell was treated at Roe Valley Cottage Hospital in Limavady, before being transferred to RAF Hospital Halton, where he was chosen by McIndoe for treatment at QVH.

Glossary:

Further Reading:

References:

"They asked my mother where they should bury me", RAF Benevolent Fund, 14 July 2016, https://www.rafbf.org/news-and-blogs/they-asked-my-mother-where-they-should-bury-me



East Grinstead Museum Collection:
EGRTM 2751.19 - Portrait photograph of O'Connell by a window
EGRTM 2751.69.1 - Set of five images of members of the Guinea Pig Club including O'Connell
EGRTM 2776 - Photographs of members of the Guinea Pig Club, including O'Connell, receiving the Soldiering On Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2015
EGRTM 6599.31.75 - Surgical drawing of O'Connell by Miss M E Lentaigne, October 1942