Leo Coyle on Radio Foyle talking about the Messines Park pilot:
Leo made contact with the pilot in 1985, through a friend who met him in the America Embassy in Dublin to celebrate Independence Day.
The pilot of the aircraft which dropped two bombs on Messines Park was a 23 year old German from Hamburg called Kurt Ridell. He flew a Junkers (JU88) plane, and had flown over Derry three weeks before the bombing, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, to survey the area in the same type of aircraft. He photographed Derry docks and Lisahally docks flying at 7 or 8000 feet. He photographed ships, personnel and barrage balloons.
He intended to drop two magnetic parachute mines into the river Foyle. These descended very slowly and when the mines made contact with the sea water this armed the mine and they would slowly sink to the sea bed, with 8 legs on it so the tide would not role it over. It sat there waiting on a ship to come along which was made of steel and complete the circuit. The aim was to block the river where the Foyle Bridge is now to hem in the escorts that were after the U-boats which were attacking convoys of the north-west coast of Ireland en-route from America or Canada via Liverpool or Glasgow.
On the night of the bombing at 10.45pm there was a wind from the east and clear moonlight, the feis was in progress, running late as usual, but unfortunately it went wrong.
Kurt never knew that anyone was killed and was remorseful and totally dumbfounded when he found out. He asked Leo for the details of the damage caused by the bombs and about a month later he sent a letter to Leo that contained £100 for masses and religious services for the victims. I took the money to Fr Mulvey in Pennyburn and he gave a donation to the British Legion and prayers were said for the repose of the dead.
Kurt died in 1988.