Then Lieutenant Dan McGovern of the United States Army Air Forces pictured with his camera at Ground Zero in Nagasaki on September 9, 1945. Photo: US National Archives.

Capturing the grim realities

BIOGRAPHY Launch to celebrate Hiroshima and Nagasaki cameraman with close Cavan ties

An historical biography of a man who helped to create some of most striking images of World War II will be launched this evening in Carrickmacross.

Rebels to Reels – A biography of Combat Cameraman Daniel A. McGovern USAF is the work of journalist and author Joe McCabe.

Dan McGovern was the US Army Air Forces cameraman who led the filming of the harrowing aftermath footage we have today in the devastated cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was one of the first Americans into Japan after that country’s surrender to the Allied forces in late 1945. Dan was born in Monaghan.

The son of a County Cavan RIC sergeant, McGovern was born in Monaghan Town but raised in Carrickmacross where he witnessed the Irish War of Independence unfold and then the partition of Ireland before his family emigrated to the United States. McGovern’s father was a native of Blacklion which his son visited regularly as a child and also during his return trips to Ireland later in life. He passed away in 2005. A large group of the McGovern family however, arrive in Ireland this week for the launch of Rebels to Reels, and also to mark 100 years from the original family leaving Ireland. Just like Dan often did they too will visit the McGovern homestead in Blacklion this weekend.

A short time after the United States entered World War Two, Dan McGovern became cameraman/photographer to US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt before later establishing the combat camera training school for the USAAF in Hollywood, California. There he trained the very first intake of US Air Forces trainee combat cameramen of World War 2. He later flew and filmed on B-17 bomber missions over Nazi occupied Europe, capturing aerial combat footage used in Hollywood director William Wyler’s acclaimed 1944 wartime documentary ‘The Memphis Belle – A Story of a Flying Fortress’.

Joe McCabe Author of Rebels to Reels was at the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate combat cameraman Daniel A. McGovern of the United States Air Force​ on the Main Street of Carrickmacross on Friday. Photo: Philip Fitzpatrick

Rebels to Reels author Joe McCabe told The Anglo-Celt: “This is a book which will appeal to anybody with an interest in a great story, military history, photography, film history, aviation and policing. Friday’s launch will represent the first opportunity to publicly celebrate the remarkable life and motion picture and photographic career of the late Lt. Colonel Dan McGovern in his hometown and in his homeland.

“I think it will be a fitting way to recognise at last the remarkable achievements of a person who, all his life, considered himself to be a proud Irishman.”

The book launch will also include a display of camera equipment and accessories of the types used by Dan McGovern and also wartime US Army Air Forces military equipment with which 6ft 5in tall “Big Mack” McGovern would have been very familiar.

Rebels to Reels – A biography of Combat Cameraman Daniel A. McGovern USAF is being launched at The Workhouse Building, Carrickmacross, (A81 E372) at 7.30pm. Joe will be signing author copies of Rebels to Reels this evening, and the book is also available from Amazon Books or from selected bookshops.