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War Stories, Third Installment

Editor's note: We are privileged to occasionally bring to you another of Monselle O'Brien's reminiscences about his service during the Second World War.  Monselle has recently been sidelined by battles with an aneurism and related hospitalizations. We are pleased that he is again able to go to work on his typewriter.


Of all the places I saw while in the service, Ireland was my favorite. After returning home, I chanced to see an article in Colliers magazine by the author of "God's Little Acre and "The Grapes of Wrath". One of the pictures was of the church and cemetery at Eglington, where I had once attended church. The author found the people to be unfriendly and hard to get acquainted with.

I think the difference was in our attitudes and our names. I felt more "at home" there than any place I visited. Walking around the area. I was invited into the home of a rural couple named Moore, a delightful elderly couple. As we sat by their open fire, I noticed the 12-inch black beams supporting their thatched roof. Mr. Moore explained they were coal, dug out of a pit on their place, sawed and trimmed by hand. Amazing! I wish I had asked the Moores if they were any kin to Morman and Delbert's people. But back to the camp where I was supposed to be and the Spitfire English airplanes our hosts permitted our pilots to fly. The Spitfire was mass-produced like our Model T Fords at home. Basically, it was a seat behind a 2,000 horsepower motor with three wheels for landing and take-off with wings bolted on to support it in the air. I can best describe the Spitfire as a motor attached to wings with guns. It had a four-bladed propeller and air brakes. I do remember two of us would ride the tail section around the field to keep it from tipping over, always being sure to slip off just before takeoff. I really don't know if the Spitfire had the power to get off the ground with us hanging on, but I didn't wait to see. A piece of tin with wheels, props, wings and a fearless Englishman who saved London from total destruction while I watched from a safe distance.

Printed in The DeLeon Free Press newspaper, February 5, 2004