US Honors 98-yo Irish Heroine Whose Storm Forecast Fortuitously Delayed D-Day Landings, Changing Course of WWII
The day was June 3rd, 1944. In County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland, a remote North Atlantic weather station operator noticed that her barometer was dropping fast, indicating a storm was going to pass over the English Channel before long.
Her name was Maureen Flavin Sweeney, and her weather report, which postponed the D-Day landings by 24 hours, saving thousands of lives, recently won her an official honor in the Congressional Record.
Maureen, now 98, received the honor as part of a ceremony in the Tí Arie nursing home where she now lives at the hands of the highest ranking veteran serving in the U.S. Congress, Jack Bergman.
“Her skill and professionalism were crucial in ensuring Allied victory, and her legacy will live on for generations to come,” he wrote, according to the Irish Times.
The weather station at the post office at Blacksod Point was recording weather every hour, sending it on to Dublin, and then to the offices of the Allied Expeditionary Force in London. In the early morning on the day Mrs. Sweeney turned 21, an agitated English woman rang her office asking “please check… please repeat.”
However after reading the barometer again with the help of her husband Ted, the result was the same—that a storm which would cause General Eisenhower to postpone the landings by 24 hours, would indeed pass over the English Channel on June 5th. Sweeney did not become aware of her reports significance until a decade after a war.
The Allies needed clear skies for air support and calm seas to ensure even and safe landings for the troops. The losses suffered across the five landing beaches were great, but would have been far greater had her report not come in.
Maureen’s son Vincent said he was proud of his mom’s contribution to the war outcome, but admitted he was just happy, “that she got it right.”