80th Anniversary: Glen Imaal Training Accident 16 Sep 41

80th Anniversary Glen Imaal Training Accident – 16 September 1941

During 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the Defence Forces 1 Anti-Aircraft Battery was expanded to an Anti-Aircraft Brigade.  This particular Brigade consisted of two Medium Batteries, two Light Batteries and a Searchlight Battery with the Brigade Headquarters garrisoned in Portobello Barracks, Dublin.  In 1940, the formation was designated as the 1 Anti-Aircraft Battalion.

In June 1941, some of the Battalion’s personnel, garrisoned in Kildare Barracks (renamed Magee Barracks in 1952), were assigned to the newly established 12 pdr Battery.  As with many units at the time, this Battery also trained in mines and explosives.

On 16 September 1941, fifteen personnel drawn from this Battery and the Depot and School Artillery Corps, (three Lieutenants, one Battery-Sergeant, two Sergeants, five Corporals and four Gunners), along with a Lieutenant Engineer Instructor, were accidentally killed when a training mine exploded in Glen Imaal.  May they Rest in Peace.

In 1958, a stained-glass window was dedicated in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary, McKee Barracks, and in 1986, the Minister for Environment Mr John Boland T.D. unveiled a Monument at Seskin Bridge, consisting of a 14-ton basalt monolith upon which is mounted on a polished granite plaque the names of the sixteen Defence Forces personnel who died on 16 September, 1941.

The 1941 accident remains the single tragedy with the greatest casualties in the history of Óglaigh na Éireann.  John Caffery, the last known survivor of the accident, and who was also involved in the evacuation of Dunkirk, died on 03 October 2011, aged 94. 

“But if fate me should call
And in action I should fall
Keep those Limbers a Rolling Along.

Then in peace I’ll abide
When I take my final ride
On a Limber that’s Rolling Along.”

Artillery Club

16 September 2021

Leave a Reply