Fitful Head Halifax Memorial
|Location:||Fitful Head, Dunrossness.|
|Date Unveiled:||June 1995|
|Names on Memorial:||7|
|OS Map Reference:||HU347128|
On Fitful Head, in the southernmost part of Shetland Mainland, there is a Memorial stone to the crew of Halifax R9438-H from 35 Squadron.
The plane crashed into the west side of the 1000 feet high cliffs of Fitful Head on its return to its base in Kinloss, Scotland, after an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz, moored in Frettenfjord, Norway, on the 30th of March 1942. No one saw the crash, and no one knows why it crashed.
The morning after, two crofters from Quendale, John Mainland and George W. Leslie, found the bodies of two dead airmen while they were checking their sheep at Fitful.
They alerted the RAF base at Sumburgh, and it was found that the plane was the missing Halifax R 9438-H.
The bodies were indentified to be Flight Sergeant J. P. W. Buckley and Sergeant M.L. Usher, both from the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both bodies were taken to Lerwick, and buried at Lerwick Cemetery.
Later that day, another body was discovered, hanging by his parachute about 200 feet above the water. Tom Warner, the RAF Padre at Sumburgh, and LAC Finney, an RAF driver, climbed down, with great danger to themselves, in an attempt to get the body up. They managed to reach him, and identified him to be Sergeant A.J. Peach, the 2nd Pilot. They were unable to bring the body up the steep cliff, and buried him in his parachute in a cliff fissure and covered the grave with stones.
The next day, the body of Sergeant R.H. Meredith, the Flight Engineer, was found by Johnnie Eunson. Eunson was searching the cliffs with some others, and he was lowered down the side of the cliff by a rope. The cliff was so steep that it was impossible to bring the body up, so Sgt. Meredith was also buried in his parachute in a cliff fissure.
More than a year later, a body was found in the wreckage of the plane. The body was not identified, and was buried on the 14th of June 1943 as "Unknown Sergeant from 35 Squadron" in Lerwick Cemetery.
The three missing crewmen were : The Pilot, Flight Sergeant J.B. Bushby, the Tail Gunner, Sergeant J. A. Wood, and the Navigator, Sergeant G. N. E. Powell. The unknown man must be one of them.
A wooden cross was erected on the edge of the cliff to mark the site of the crash. After many years in the rough Shetland weather, it fell to pieces, but in June 1995, a granite memorial stone was unveiled by Mr. Ted Whittles, cousin of Sgt. Peach, and a dedication ceremony was conducted by The Reverend Trevor Williams, the parish minister.