‘The Shamrock Spitfire’ Ending Explained & Movie Recap: How Did Brendan Finucane Die?

Directed by Dominic and Ian Higgins, the 2024 war drama film, The Shamrock Spitfire tells the story of the renowned RAF fighter pilot named Brendan “Paddy” Finucane, who, at the age of 21, became one of the most famous pilots of World War II. While The Shamrock Spitfire managed to cover all the aspects of how he became a pilot, by turning his dream into a reality, I somehow couldn’t emotionally connect with it much. Also, the CGI used in the movie felt like Instagram filters, which, of course, didn’t help either. But anyway, let’s dive into the story of how Mr. Finucane became the most celebrated young fighter pilot in history.

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Spoilers Ahead


Why did Brendan join the RAF? 

When The Shamrock Spitfire starts, we meet the young Brendan Finucane, who was obsessed with the story of Mick Mannock, an Irish soldier in World War I, and his bravery in battle. Ever since then, Mannock has been his inspiration. For Brendan, he has always wanted to fight and fly in the sky for the sake of his country. That has always been his dream—to become the next Mick Mannock or maybe the first Brendan Finucane. Like all fighter pilots at that time, he also wanted to be called “Paddy.” He was born and brought up in Dublin, but as he grew older, his family had to move to London for his father’s job. While staying there, Brendan worked at an accounting firm. One day, as he was coming home from work on the bus, he saw an ad inviting candidates to join the RAF if they were over 17. Brendan felt as if his dream was calling him. He knew he had to convince his parents. He knew his mother would understand and support his dream. After all, she was the one who always used to read him stories about brave pilots, and he listened with so much interest. It was about time he found his calling. But the problem was with his father. Of course, he was not happy. Not only because it was not safe, but also because failure was not allowed in the Finucane household. He came off as the most strict father ever. So Brendan promised him that he would definitely succeed and prove to him that he could be the best pilot ever. With that promise and his father’s permission, he went to join the RAF as a fighter pilot.

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How did Brendan become the squadron leader? 

As Brendan went to join the RAF, he initially struggled. He received mediocre scores, and during training, he often crashed his planes into trees. Sometimes, his fellow pilots bullied him, calling him funny names for being an average fighter pilot. But gradually, as the Battle of Britain began and he prepared for war, he started to show his true capabilities as a fighter pilot. As the war started, he showed his skills in his fighter aircraft after being sent to an operation training unit. On his very first day, he shot down two enemy planes, which was actually a lot because the enemies outnumbered them. Although he had become a bona fide fighter pilot, he was having nightmares of the war, where he saw many fellow pilots lose their lives before his eyes. But he was also mourning his enemies because, for him, it was just a battle, and it felt like he was fighting machines, not people who were also fighting for their country. His anger flared when the Germans attacked Southampton, where his uncle and aunt used to live. He saw how the Germans’ bombs set the place on fire, causing many to lose their lives.

The ugly sight of war haunted him very much, but it also gave him the courage to fight even more because they had no other choice. Later, he was recommended to become an acting flight lieutenant and was awarded a DFC. Brendan went from being just a fighter to becoming a captain. He had two big jobs: making sure his soldiers stayed loyal and disciplined, and being a friend and leader to his squadron. Even though his work was tough and lonely, Brendan believed that by showing how they could all support each other, they could show what fighting for all means. He explained to them the importance of being good pilots and fighters and how practicing makes you better at everything. During the war, he managed to shoot down enemies from a distance of 500 yards, which was really impressive. Everyone was proud to call him “Paddy.” It felt like his dream had finally come true. His achievements became well-known, with news spreading everywhere and him being featured in many magazines and newspapers. People began to recognize his name. 

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Why did Brendan ask Jean to marry him? 

As Brendan became famous, many girls were crazy about him. He had lots of female admirers, but none of them mattered to him as much as one girl from his childhood, Jean. She had always supported him, showed him love and respect, and waited for him. Even though her parents weren’t keen on her marrying a fighter pilot like Brendan, she’d never wanted to marry anyone else. But Brendan became more unsure about marrying Jean after he hurt his leg in the war and got admitted to the hospital. He even lost two of his soldiers in the war, Mick and Chissa. He started questioning everything. He thought maybe it would be selfish to lead Jean on because she could have a secure future with someone else who didn’t have a risky job like his, where there was always a chance he might not come back home tomorrow. But after talking to a priest, he realized he was ready to risk it all for the sake of his love. And anyway, it was only a few days before the war ended. After that, he and his fellow fighter pilot, Bluey, planned to open a chartered flying business named Finucane and Truscott. He would have a secure future with Jean, then. So, they had an engagement party together with their whole family and friends to celebrate their love.

But what kind of love is it that doesn’t end in tragedy? Isn’t that the essence of a great love story? After their engagement, Brendan became the Hornchurch Wing Leader, and their target was Etaples, a German army camp. While flying the plane during the attack, his aircraft was shot down, crashing into the water, and he died there. Though his body was never recovered, his contribution to the country was always remembered, making him the youngest wing commander in the RAF. Thousands of people attended his memorial. This biographical film serves as a testament to his life and the lives of many who sacrificed their lives during the war, losing loved ones, friends, and family.

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Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka Banerjee
Sutanuka, a devoted movie enthusiast, embarked on her cinematic journey since childhood, captivated by the enchanting world of the Harry Potter series. This early passion ignited her love for movies, providing an escape into the magical realms of cinema. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in media science, combining her academic pursuits with her unwavering passion for the silver screen.

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