Peter’s Blog II
It’s Masters week I would like to bring you back to an unusual event that happened on the 7th April 1943. No Masters was held in 1947 owing to the US involvement in the war.
On that morning a plane was spotted circling over Clonakilty and Inchidoney in West Cork not too far from the Old Head. It was a Boeing B-17 which eventually landed safely, with a bump, in Whites field and the crew had no idea where they were!
Those on board the US Air Force plane named “Taint A Bird” had no idea that they had been blown off course by a storm while on route to England from Morroco and they had run out of fuel! On board were ten crew members, one mystery passenger Sgt. Marcel St. Louis and a Brazilian spider Monkey called Tojo.
Tojo was so called thanks to the black rings around his eyes that resembled the then Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo !! Nobody seems to know where Tojo came from but some say they picked him up in Brazil while circumnavigating the Atlantic
As Ireland was a neutral country they were all “arrested” and taken to O Donovans Hotel in the centre of Clonakilty. What followed was a three-day drink-fuelled blowout in O’Donavans Pub where the Yanks were feted by the locals, many of whom had never seen an American before !!
Tojo passed away on day three, some say he got pneumonia from flying at high altitudes others say he got alcohol poisoning from drinking Murphy’s stout with the locals and it may also have something to do with the 35 cases of rum which was taken off the plane !! Others say it was the West Cork weather !!
The crew got a large platter from the kitchen and cut some lace off a curtain and laid Tojo out in a bedroom upstairs in O’Donovans. Locals came from miles around, with queues out the door and down the street to pay their respects as Tojo lay in State. He was buried with full Military honours at the back of the hotel under which is now the Venue Night Club.
The crew were eventually reunited with their plane in Northern Ireland and flew 25 missions in Europe before the war ended.
There is now a statue in honour of Tojo so next time you are passing through Clonakilty take a look and then enjoy your golf at the wonderful Old Head of Kinsale which JB Carr designed with Ron Kirby among others, labelling it the 8th wonder of the world in golfing terms!!