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Introduction / The Island / Island Life / Second World War

Spitfire Down Between Faray and Eday

A Spitfire caught fire coming in from the west over Faray and down over Gangsteaths. It crashed in Fersness Bay, Eday (between Eday and Faray) at around 2.20pm on 11th November 1942. The suspected cause of its engine trouble was a glycol leak. The weather conditions at the time were cloudy but with good visibility.

The pilot, Flight Lieutenant John Dixon of the Royal Australian Air Force, parachuted out and came down in the sea. On hearing the noise, the schoolteacher took the children outside the school. The pilot could be seen floating with green dye marking his position.

Henry Leslie, Holland set out in his boat with a few men and got the pilot on board although there was some danger of the boat capsizing in the process.

A high speed launch, RAF HSL 173, left its moorings at Shapinsay at 3.00pm and headed to the area. They were informed by Bobby Allan from Eday, who had also been out in his boat but was further away than those from Faray, that the pilot had been picked up.

The pilot was taken ashore in Faray and managed to stagger up to Lakequoy, where James Moar lived. He had been in the water for a good half hour although he not unsurprisingly felt that it was somewhat longer.

The launch proceeded to Faray, where they took the pilot onboard, and subsequently into Kirkwall where they landed at 5.30pm.

Flight Sergeant John Hugh Dixon, subsequently received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was in the Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron since early 1943. In his early sorties, he flew on reconnaissance to the major industrial centres in Western Germany, including Berlin.

In early 1944 he volunteered to fly to Northern Russia with a detachment charged with obtaining the information necessary for an attack by the Navy on the German battleship “Tirpitz”. The citation states that during this period, he completed several successful sorties despite Artic weather, enemy opposition and engine failure due to the intense cold.

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