American honor for a 98-year-old woman whose Mayo weather altered the D-Day landing


In the early morning hours of June 3, 1944, Maureen Flavin (21) sent a weather report from Blacksod, Co. Mayo, which would change the course of WWII.

The remote weather station’s barometer showed the pressure was dropping rapidly, indicating that a major Atlantic storm was expected to arrive and blow across western Europe. Based on Ms. Flavin’s readings, U.S. General Dwight D Eisenhower postponed the D-Day landing by 24 hours.

On Saturday, the 98-year-old woman, now Maureen Flavin Sweeney, received a special honor from the United States House of Representatives for her role in the war. Her role was recognized at a ceremony held at the Tí Aire Retirement Home in Belmullet, County Mayo, where she now lives.

Congressman Jack Bergman, the highest ranking veteran to serve in Congress, wrote on June 6, on the 77th anniversary of the D-Day D-Day landings, that he was “honored to recognize the service of Maureen Flavin Sweeney “.

“His skills and professionalism were crucial in securing the victory of the Allies, and his legacy will live on for generations to come,” he wrote.

Her son Vincent Sweeney, who is the keeper of the Blacksod Point Lighthouse, said Flavin Sweeney was proud of the influence of the report, but more importantly “happy to get it right.”

“The main thing was that she had the right forecast… We could wear ankle boots, if you want,” he said.

From the Blacksod post office, the Sweeney family had recorded the weather every hour during the war. They sent their observations to the Irish Met Service in Dublin, which were then passed on without their knowledge to the Allied Expeditionary Force Headquarters in England.

Ms Flavin Sweeney, originally from County Kerry, only learned of the influence of her 1944 report over a decade later.

Please check

At 1 a.m. on June 3, her 21st birthday, Ms Flavin Sweeney’s readings alarmed the stranger. Later that morning, she received a phone call from an Englishwoman asking her to “please check … please repeat” the report. Examining the barometer again, Flavin Sweeney and her husband Ted confirmed that a storm would indeed hit the English Channel on June 5.

Unbeknownst to him at the time, this was the initial date chosen by the Allied Command for the invasion of Normandy, France, an operation that required clear skies for air support and calm waters to ensure the safety of the troops. water-based landing craft.

A passionate researcher in military history, Vincent Sweeney expressed great pride in the role his mother and family played in the war. “The hair stood up on the back of my neck in Normandy,” he said.

While the death toll on D-Day was significant, “it could have been a lot more” without the report from Europe’s most westerly weather station, he added.

Mr Sweeney noted that the remote Blacksod region plays an outsized role in world affairs. “For such a small place, a lot has happened here,” he said.


Dale D. Schrum

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