Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1942, Wing Commander Brendan Eamonn Fergus Finucane, D.S.O., D.F.C. & two Bars, the Royal Air Force, was killed when his plane was hit over France.
He was the son of an Irish rebel who took part in the Easter Rising in 1916, and the grandson of an Englishman who had served on the Northwest Frontier with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Wing Commander Finucane was educated at the Christian Brothers School in Dublin, and when he was sixteen years old his family moved to London, where he attended the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. After leaving school he began working as an accountant, which didn’t suit him, so he volunteered to join the R.A.F..
He completed training in 1940, then was was posted to 65 Squadron at R.A.F. Hornchurch. Seeing action during the Battle of Britain, he had his first victory on the 1st of August. Skilled and fearless, he gained victory after victory, and is still the youngest pilot ever to hold the rank of Wing Commander, which he achieved at twenty-one years old and with one of the highest kill rates in the history of the R.A.F..
Called “The Fighting Gael” and “Flying Shamrock Terror of the Nazis” by the American press, he had a green shamrock painted on his plane. He talked about having the “luck of the Irish” but he clearly acknowledged, as a family member stated, that he was fighting for the Crown. In May, 1941, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry displayed in a flying operation against the enemy, and two Bars four months later, the first citation referring to his “dash, determination and courage in the face of the enemy”. The following month brought the award of the Distinguished Service Order, for gallantry displayed in a flying operation against the enemy.
On the day of his death he was flying low over a beach at Pointe du Touquet in France, when his plane was hit by machine-gun fire. He was too low to bail out, and neither he nor his plane were found - he faced the sea and his last words to his squadron were: “This is it, chaps.”
Brendan, from Rathmines in County Dublin, was 22 years old.