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Lovetwaffe; TWO CAPTURED 2ND WORLD WAR GERMAN PILOTS FALL IN LOVE AND MARRY IRISH GIRLS.

Byline: LYNNE KELLEHER

TWO young Luftwaffe pilots, who crashed landed in Ireland during World War II, have told how they found love as wartime detainees.

Germans Kurt Kyck and Arthur Voight fell in love with Irish girls they met during their loosely controlled detention at the Curragh army camp in Kildare.

Radio operator, Kurt, smashed his plane into Mount Brandon, County Kerry on August 20th 1940.

He was forced off course during the ferocious Battle of Britain, when the Luftwaffe and RAF fought for control of the skies.

The 20-year-old had a lucky escape - surviving the crash and living out the rest of the war in relative comfort and freedom.

Arthur was was hit by anti-aircraft fire while bombing a convoy of ships over the Irish Sea in March 1941.

Losing height rapidly the pilot had no choice but to belly-land his Heinkel plane on a Wexford beach.

The German pilots were not treated as prisoners of war in neutral Ireland but allowed to sign themselves out of the camp and return at night.

This relaxed regime meant they could mix with locals and the handsome men met and fell in love with two local girls.

That love between the airmen and the Kildare woman survived the war and even endured when they were deported back to Germany after the war.

A new heartwarming documentary made by RTE's Leargas - Love In A Time Of War - traces the stories of two pilots.

Kurt Kyck was the first German soldier to land in Ireland during the war.

When he emerged relatively unharmed from the wreckage on the mountain top at noon, he stood lost and bewildered.

Mr. Kyck recalled: "We were flying blind most of the time because the whole Atlantic was clouded that day.

"We were coming over Brandon Bay and there was a break in the clouds and I shouted 'we must be over land' and our commander said 'you must be dreaming' because he with his navigation reckoned we were over sea. The next thing it just crashed.

"I said 'get out' when the plane was still skidding on the top of the mountain. I jumped out and then I saw the plane's nose nearly up against the wall. The pilot broke his back, the other fellow broke his leg by jumping out of the plane.

"We would have never made it on our own. If you know Mount Brandon it was impossible. You would lose your way in the thick fog.

"The lads brought us down. They stopped in a cottage on the way down. They gave us milk, a cup of tea and home-made bread with butter which was delicious."

The tall, tanned blonde soldiers, who were given a warm welcome in neutral Ireland, caused a sensation at local dances with their good looks and ballroom dancing skills.

"The Curragh soldiers, when they got paid they had a dance and all the young ladies came to dance with the soldiers.

"We we were allowed in and that's how I met my missus," said Mr Kyck.

His wife Lilli remembers her first meeting with her future husband when she spotted him across the dancehall.

She said: "I knew the MC and after a while he came and asked me would I be introduced to the three German men. I liked Kurt and I was talking to him the best I could. He came out the next evening and we went for a walk.

"Of course I told my mother and father about him and he had to be vetted. My Mam came out with me that night and we went out together and talked and it just went on slowly from there."

Mr Kyck said the Irish authorities couldn't have been more considerate towards their so-called prisoners.

He said: "The bungalows were very nice, the kitchen was good, there was an Army cook to cook for us and we even had an army orderly.

"We were treated like gentlemen. We occupied ourselves with learning English."

The Germans signed themselves out during the day and often used their savings on clothes to wear to dances.

Arthur Voight's daughter Marlena said her father, who died in 1994 five months after the death of her mother Sheila, was amazed at the Irish hospitality and often told how he was treated to a full fried Irish breakfast when he was brought to Wexford barracks after being captured.

She said: "My mother would have been about 19 when she met my father. They used to go dancing in the old parish church.

"They loved to see the Germans coming because they had a particular German dance called the German swing. And they looked very attractive, the were tanned, blue eyed and had blonde hair.

"They looked different and spoke with a lovely foreign accent. So there was a certain amount of appeal there.

"My grandfather would have been a bit suspicious. The Germans were an unknown quantity at the time and he didn't know what to expect.

"They were very respectful and very nice towards him. The fact they had respect, he gave respect to them. They were very courteous towards the girls so I think that made a big impression."

Lilli Kyck said her father was also won over by the polite nature of her German suitor.

She said: "He proposed to me very nicely. He actually went on his knees and asked my parents if they would have any objection to him making me his wife."

LILLI and Kurt married in 1943 and Lilli gave birth to their son Wolfgang, who went on to become a senior pilot in Aer Lingus.

But the airmen's world was set to be rocked at the end of the war when they were handed over to the British authorities by the Irish Army and deported back to Germany.

Marlena said her mother Sheila was devastated when she was told Arthur was going to be repatriated.

She said: "In the end it came quicker than they expected. They knew the war was over but suddenly they were just told August 12, 1945 their leave was cancelled and they were no longer allowed out.

"Someone called to the house and said 'Look Sheila they are being repatriated tomorrow' so you've only one last chance to see Arthur so they made arrangements that she would come down to the gate.

"After four and a half years, they really adored each other.

"They had to look to the future with absolute uncertainty."

Arthur and Sheila did eventually mary in 1952 and he ended up living in Kildare working for Bord Na Mona.

Lilli and Kurt, too, were heartbroken when they were told Kurt would have to leave.

She said: "Kurt came to me and we sat there talking. We couldn't make plans. He didn't know what was ahead of him. He said he'd write as soon as he could. He sat and had his last look at the baby and I just said goodbye to him."

Kurt was stunned when he flew over Germany and saw the devastation wreaked by four years of bombing.

He said: "We went over the Allied planes over the Rhine and I nearly cried.

"You saw only destruction... When I left Germany it was tip-top and to come and see the destruction..it was completely unnecessary for no reason whatsoever, only for stupidly.

"I can't blame one side or the other side, We left as much destruction behind in Russia too."

Kurt returned to Ireland in 1949 and was reunited with his Irish wife and child.

He said: "It actually was a feeling of coming home."

Lilli added: "There was a dance on in the Curragh and we went to it and he was treated like royalty."

LEARGAS - Love In A Time Of War will be shown tomorrow at 7.30pm

CAPTION(S):

WAR BRIDE: Kurt Kyck married Lilli in 1943 but at the end of the war they were separated for four years when he was sent back to Germany; FOND MEMORY: Marlena Healy says her father, Arthur Voight, was always grateful for Irish hospitality; HOME ALONE: Lilli Kyck and her son Wolfgang; REUNITED: Arthur and Shelia Voight married in 1952
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 28, 2004
Words:1368
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