Ob. D. L
|17/01/1941||He 111 (2645)||Oldenburg|
By now visits by the Luftwaffe to Shetland were occasional hit and run nuisance raids. The purpose of these was to tie down valuable assets in
the defence of the islands.
But there was one regular German flight which passed close to Fair Isle.
This was the weather reconnaissance sortie from Oldenburg to the Faroes
– known to the RAF as ‘Weather Willie’. At first the RAF made determined attempts to intercept the flight. But later they monitored the data being transmitted back to Germany, which they found to be useful, and ‘Willie’ was usually allowed to proceed unmolested.
Normally the flight dropped down low to avoid the radar, but on this day the weather was so bad they were compelled to climb to 8000ft. When they were picked up on the radar, P/O E.Berry, RJZAF, and F/O R.W.Vatson, RCAF, were scrambled from Sumburgh. By a nice piece of work by the control, and good luck, the three aircraft came together in open sky. The Heinkel headed for cloud to escape, but before it could
reach it both Hurricanes had time to fire. Berry was first, wounding two of the crew, and putting some of the instruments out of action. F/O Watson then managed to score hits on both engines.
The Heinkel had received mortal damage. Both engines had to be stopped, and the undercarriages was hanging down. Uffz Luking, the gunner had been wounded in the legs, and the wireless operator, Gefr Nentwig, had received severe wounds in his side. The meteorologist, Leo Gburek, went to the rear of the aircraft to tend Nentwig’s injuries. Just as it seemed they would be faced with a ditching Fair Isle appeared out of the cloud below and Lt Thurz, the pilot, decided on a forced landing there. But he came in too fast and bounced, overshooting the intended touch down point. The Heinkel crashed through a wall, and broke up as it careered across the ground. Gburek and Nentwig, in the rear of the aircraft were thrown out and killed. The other three men were able to get out, and watched their machine burning as they waited for capture.
In May 1987 Heinz Thurz returned to Fair Isle. He had a look at the remains of his Heinkel, and met again people he had last seen all those years ago, in very different circumstances.
The Heinkel had crashed near Vaasetter, at map reference 4/213717. Where it came to rest are the engines and undercarriage. About 100 yards to the east, in a gulley, are some large pieces of the tail.
Leo Gburek (Wetterdienst Insp) killed; Gefr George Nentwig (Eng/AG)
killed; Lt Karl Heinz Thurz (Pilot) POW; Fw Josef Wohlfart (WOP) POV
and Uffz Bernard Luking (Eng) POW.
|21/01/1941||Sunderland I||T9049||0/201||Sullom Voe|
The Sunderland was returning from a reconnaissance flight to Norway. Short of fuel it had to land in rough water off the west coast of Unst. The port float was broken off in the landing, and the aircrafts tool box was put onto the starboard wing to balance the Sunderland. It was then beached at Wood Wick, when more damage was done.
Lindsey Robertson, who was responsible for marine salvage in Shetland was given the job of getting the Sunderland back to Sullom Voe. He hit on the idea of fastening barrels to the aircraft for buoyancy. The Sunderland was then towed to Cullivoe, where the engines were removed. They then set off to tow the Sunderland to Sullom Voe. After having had to take shelter from the weather for three days at Mid Yell, they eventually arrived at their destination.
The Sunderland was then given temporary repairs, before being flown to Short’s, at Belfast. It was later put back into service, and survived the war. It was scuttled at Wig Bay in 1946.
|01/03/1941||Hurricane I||P3255&V7069||3 Sqn||Sumburgh|
The two Hurricanes were indulging in a practice dog fight when they collided. P/O Brennan in P3255 was able to regain control and land his badly damaged aircraft at Sumburgh. But Sgt Joyce in V7069 dived into the sea. His body was not recovered.
|23/03/1941||Bf 110E-2 (3774)||Stab ZG76||M8+VE||Westerland|
Two 110s appeared over Sullom Voe and machine gunned the village. They were engaged by a Royal Artillery Bofers gun, under the command of Sgt E.Bryson. A direct hit blew the tail off one of the attackers and the aircraft crashed into the water just off Sella Ness.
A body was recovered from the wreckage, and the following day, the other body from the sea. The Bf 110 was later recovered from the water. A panel with the German markings on was removed and put on display in
the Officers Mess at Sullom Voe.
Uffz K.Rudigar (Pilot) and Gefr Georg Reichel (Gunner).
|22/07/1941||Spitfire I||X4501||E Flt 1||PRU|
When the engine failed, the pilot was very fortunate to have Fair Isle within gliding distance. A crash landing was made on very rough ground.
But the Spitfire was not a write-off and was repaired.
|11/08/1941||Sunderland II||V3978||Z/201 Sqn||Sullom Voe|
The Sunderland was coming in to land at night. Just as it was about to touch down the pilot switched on the flap light and was blinded by the green indicator lamp. Both pilots leaned forward to cover the lamp with their hands, and the pilot inadvertently pushed the control column forward. The aircraft struck the water and sank, but the crew were able to escape.
S/L Fraser, F/O Champion, P/O Powell, Sgt Briden. Sgt Owen, Sgt
Abbott, Sgt Butler, Sgt Clerk, Sgt Parks, LAC Walker, LAC Cutchie and
|18/08/1941||Whitley V||T4282||612 Sqn||Wick|
The Whitley was on patrol ‘Fate L’ to the north of Shetland when the starboard engine started to overheat. At 19.06 the engine had to be shut down, and the Whitley set course for Sumburgh. The port engine then also began to overheat, and a SOS was sent. At 19.18 the bomb load had to be dumped to maintain height. At about the same time a Ju 88 was sighted in the distance, but it failed to spot them.
The port engine failed, and a copy-book ditching was made 10 miles north of Muckle Flugga. They had only just got into their dinghy when a Blenheim appeared and circled them. After about an hour the Blenheim was relieved by a Sunderland. But when it was fired on by a Ju 88 the Sunderland beat a hasty retreat. At 22.00 the crew of the Whitley were picked up by a HSL. Here we have an example of Air Sea Rescue at its best.
P/O McRobbie, P/O Ellis, Sgts Johnstone, Davies, Pickering and Mercer.
|03/09/1941||Blenheim IV||L9261||235 Sqn||Sumburgh|
The Blenheim had taken-off at 22.00 the previous evening on patrol ‘Trost’, out towards the Faroes. At about 02.45 a R/T message was received from the aircraft saying that some of the instruments had failed and they were unsure of their position. They must have been unable to get a D/F fix, because the pilot began to gingerly let down through the cloud in a spiral.
Below the Blenheim was a Sandness, and people were awakened, and listened with increasing apprehension as the aircraft came lower and lower. With the 800ft high Sandness Hill less that half a mile away, at 0305 the inevitable happened. Would be rescuers could not get near because of a fierce fire and exploding ammunition.
The RAF were quickly on the scene and removed the bodies of the crew. The wreckage was later taken away, and today only small pieces of aluminium litter the hillside at map reference 3/189561. The crew are all
buried at Lerwick, but for some strange reason, not in adjoining graves.
F/L Howard Moule Hammond (Pilot), P/O William James Mason (Navigator
and Sgt George Richard Simpson (WOP/AG).
|01/11/1941||Blenheim IV||T1946&Z6339||404 Sqn RCAF||Sumburgh|
On this Saturday afternoon, the two Blenheims – V-Vic (Z6339) and U-Uncle (T1946) – had been detailed to take part in a co-operation exercise with the Lerwick anti-aircraft defences. Instead on the usual navigator and wireless operator, both aircraft carried two non-aircrew passengers.
They flew north following the east coast of Mainland and into the Bressay Sound. The pilots view to the side in the Blenheim is just about non-existent and he would rely on help from the other crew members to keep a lookout. But with only passengers aboard this would not be forthcoming. The two Blenheims touched wing tips and went out of control. F/Sgt Leighton, in Z6339, was unable to regain control, and the Blenheim crashed on the Horse of the Knabb, killing all aboard. But P/O Inglis, in the other aircraft, was able to make a crash landing on Bressay,
injuring the crew.
is buried at Lerwick – only yards from where he was killed.
The two passengers are buried in Edinburgh.
The Shetland press states this accident happened on 31/10/41, during a mass fly-pass to mark the end of ‘War Weapons Week’. The incident was not reported at the time, and over the years it seems that peoples memories have become confused.
Z6339, Robert Frederick Leighton RCAF (Pilot), AC1 ACH/GD Thomas Alexander
Gray (Passenger) and AC2 Clerk/GD Thomas Clapperton (Passenger).
T1946, P/O Inglis RCAF (Pilot), Cpl Holmes (Passenger) and AC2 Fitt
(Passenger). All injured.
|03/11/1941||Beaufighter IC||T3327||143 Sqn||Sumburgh|
developed a swing on landing, which the pilot was unable to correct.
The aircraft collided with a hangar 42yds from the edge of the runway.
Sgt A.G.Cutten RNZAF.