World War II


Loss of aircraft

by David Hanson

116 Copgrove Road


West Yorkshire



BY CRAIG ROBERTSON (Keeping original text layout and grammar) 15/04/2003


By David Hanson


This is a log of all known aircraft losses which occurred in Shetland during World War Two. It also includes aircraft which came down in the sea within ten miles of land. It is compiled from RAF, FAA and Luftwaffe records, with extracts from the ‘Shetland Times’ and ‘Shetland Life’.

I would also like to thank Andy Flours, Stephen Burns, Jemima Hepburn,
Ron Pankhurst, Lindsey Robertson, Martin Smith, Peter Ward and Tommy Watt for their help.

There are some gaps in the records, particularly in the early years. Where the names of all the crew are not known, only the pilot is named.

1 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
22/11/1939 London II L7042 201 Sqn Invergordon

Lerwick had its first air-raid of the war on this day. The London was at anchor in the North Harbour having a engine change, when six Heinkel He 111’s began circling the town. They chose the London as their target and dropped eight bombs without doing any damage. One of the Heinkel’s then came in very low, and set the London on fire with machine gun fire. The flying boat was abandoned by its six man crew, who were soon picked up by fishing boats.

2 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
22/121939 Gladiator II N5701 Shetland Fighter

Because of the frequent visits to Shetland by the Luftwaffe the Shetland Fighter Flight was formed. The Flight was also sometimes referred to as
the Sumburgh Fighter Flight. Fighter Commands stretched resources meant only Gladiators could be spared. But what was missing in the way of numbers was made up by the enthusiasm of the pilots.
Unfortunately the Flight did not leave any records, so we are left with
some blanks in this interesting period of Shetland’s aviation history.

This Gladiator was in the circuit at Sumburgh when it stalled and spun into the beach. There are no further details.

3 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
01/01/1940 Ju 88 1/KG30

At 1008 a ‘bogie’ was reported near Whalsey Skerries. At 1022 this was confirmed as two enemy aircraft near Fetlar. One of the JU 88’s was engaged by the Gladiators of the SFF and shot down into the

4 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
18/02/1940 Walrus I L2296 700 Sqn Hatston

The Walrus was returning from patrol, short of fuel, and with the crew unsure of their position. Land was sighted, and a precautionary landing was made. They anchored as close to shore as possible, and landed in their dinghy. They found out that they had arrived on Foula.

Bad weather prevented the crew being picked up for some days, until the MV Water Lily made it from Scalloway.

Before the Walrus could be rescued from the north coast of the island it was broken up by bad weather.

Lt Paul R.E.Woods, Pilot; Mid.Paul Furber, Navigator and Ld/Sm
Arthur Bell, TAG.

5 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
22/02/1940 London II L7040 204 Sqn Sullom Voe

The London caught fire at Sullom Voe.

6 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
20/03/1940 Gladiator II N5643 Shetland Fighter

The Gladiator bounced on landing and ran off the end of the runway. It turned over onto its nose on soft ground and was a write-off.

7 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
20/04/1940 Skua L2999 800 Sqn Hatston

The Skua failed to return from a reconnaissance flight from Hatson to Lerwick. It was last seen at 59 degrees 31N, 0 degrees 19W, to the east of Fair Isle.

Mid (A) J.R. Crossley, Pilot (missing) and PO (A) M.Hall, buried Lerwick.

8 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
29/04/1940 Blenheim IV R3628 254 Sqn Sumburgh

The Blenheim lost a propeller and it had to make a forced landing at Scatsta. The airfield at Scatsta was still under construction at the time, and the Blenheim has the distinction of being the first aircraft to land

The 254 Sqn records for this incident are unreadable, so there are no further details.

9 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
14/05/1940 Beaufort I L4489 42 Sqn Wick

The Beaufort had carried out a dive-bombing attack on Vaeres, in Norway. On the way home they were hit in the starboard aileron by machine gun fire.

The Beaufort crashed into the sea when trying to land at Sumburgh. All of the crew escaped with cuts and bruises.

Sgt Flinn, Sgt Shirley, LAC Thomas and AC O’Malley.

10 Date Aircraft Registration Squadron Area
21/06/1940 Gladiator II N5716 Shetland Fighter

The Gladiator had engine failure while on patrol. A forced landing was made in shallow water on the beach at Haroldswick, Unst. The aircraft turned over, and was a write-off, but the pilot was not injured.

P/O N.I.L.Francis.

Dellin' intae da past