Paddy Finucane

Paddy Finucane

Infobox Military Person
name= Brendan Eamon Fergus Finucane
lived= 1920–1942
placeofbirth= Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland
placeofdeath= Near Pointe du Touquet, France

caption= Paddy Finucane c. 1940.
nickname= "Paddy"
allegiance= United Kingdom
serviceyears= 1938–1942
rank= Wing Commander
branch= Royal Air Force
commands= 65 Squadron (1940)
452 Squadron (1941)
602 Squadron (1942)
Hornchurch Wing (1942)
battles= Second World War
awards= Distinguished Flying Cross and two Bars
Distinguished Service Order

Brendan Éamon FitzPatrick Finucane, DSO, DFC & two Bars (1920 - 1942), known as Paddy Finucane, was an Irish RAF fighter pilot. He was a high scoring Second World War flying ace – claiming 32 victories – and was the RAF's youngest Wing Commander in its history.

Early life

Paddy Finucane was the first child of Thomas and Florence Finucane; born on 16 October 1920 in Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland, the eldest of five siblings. His father was a member of the Irish Volunteers and served under Éamon de Valera's command in the 1916 Rising in Dublin. He was educated at Synge Street CBS, O'Connell School CBS in Dublin and later at The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London after his family emigrated to England in 1936.

Royal Air Force

Finucane joined the RAF in May 1938. After flying training and conversion to the Supermarine Spitfire he was posted as a Pilot Officer to 65 Squadron at RAF Hornchurch in 1940. Finucane claimed his first victory in the Battle of Britain on 12 August 1940, a Bf 109. No. 65 Squadron was rested at the end of August 1940 and did not return to 11 Group until November. Flying from Tangmere, by year's end, Finucane had claimed four Bf 109s and a Bf 110.

A year later in April 1941, Finucane was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and posted as a flight commander to an Australian 452 Squadron at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, the first RAAF squadron to serve in Fighter Command. Making their debut on operations in July 1941, "Paddy" added 17 fighter claims to his score by his 21st birthday in October 1941, also being awarded a Distinguished Service Order.

In January 1942, Finucane was given command of 602 Squadron at RAF Redhill. On 20 February 1942 Finucane was slightly wounded in the leg during a strafing mission with his new command. Four Fw 190s fell to his guns in March 1942. Finucane's fame spread beyond RAF ranks and "model airplanes of his Spitfire with the vivid green Shamrocks were sold all along Piccadilly Circus and The Strand." [ [ Biography of Brendan "Paddy" Finucane] ]

Finucane became the youngest Wing Commander in the RAF on 27 June 1942, leading the Hornchurch Wing.


He was killed at the age of 21 on 15 July 1942, when he was leading a fighter "Ramrod" operation (cannon and machine gun attack by fighters) against a German army camp at Etaples France. He always said that the Luftwaffe would never get him, and it was actually a ground shot from a single machine gun post near Pointe du Touquet which hit his Spitfire. He flew slowly out to sea, talking calmly to his comrades. Finally, when ten miles from the French coast, he sent his last message, spoken probably as his engine stopped: "This is it, chaps." He crashed from about 10 feet above the sea, and his machine sank at once.

By the time of his death he had claimed a total of 26 aircraft destroyed, six shared destroyed and eight probably destroyed.


A rose, Spitfire Paddy, grown by Sean McCann was named in memory of him. In November 2004, the rose was planted in the memorial garden in Baldonnel Aerodrome in Dublin (home of the Irish Air Corps) beside the garrison church. It was from Baldonnel in 1932 with his younger brother, Raymond, that he first took to air. The ceremony was attended by members of the RAF Association and the Air Corps. Corgi die cast model manufacturers have created in 1/72 scale, his Spitfire complete with the shamrock. The model depicts his aircraft in which he achieved most of his victories when he flew with 452 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force in 1941.

His name is inscribed on Panel 64 of the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede. The memorial commemorates airmen who were lost in the Second World War and who have no known grave. The Battle of Britain Memorial on London's Embankment also includes his name as one of the "Few."

His flying logbook can be viewed in the Soldiers and Chiefs exhibition in the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks, Dublin. It is on loan from the Finucane family. His uniform is on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, London.




* Byrne, Maurice. "The Ace with the Shamrock". "Dublin Historical Record" Volume LIX, No.1, Spring 2006, Published by the Old Dublin Society.
* Churchill, Winston S. "The Grand Alliance (Seventh impression), Volume 3, Appendix G", 1954, p. 644.
* Liebling, A.J. "Paddy of the R.A.F", "The New Yorker", 6 December 1941. Reprinted as pp. 622–635 in: A.J. Liebling: "World War II Writings". New York: The Library of America, 2008. ISBN 1-59853-018-6.
* Stokes, Doug. "Paddy Finucane, Fighter Ace: A Biography of Wing Commander Brendan E. Finucane, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Two Bars". London: Crécy Publishing, 1992, p. 220. ISBN 0-947554-22-X.

ee also

*List of military figures by nickname

External links

* [ Biography of Brendan "Paddy" Finucane]
* [ Commonwealth War Graves Commission]
* [ Irish Independent article about the rose planting ceremony]

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