Raid detected approaching Orkney

Anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Curlew's radar plot shows unidentified aircraft approaching, 80 miles from Orkney at 12,000 to 20,000 feet.

(HMS Curlew will be sunk by Ju 88 bombers of Kampfgeschwader 30 near Narvik on 26 May.)

Source: @Ness_Battery

Hurricanes take off from Wick

Hurricanes of 43 Sqn. take off from Wick to intercept German aircraft heading for Scapa Flow. Estimates vary - at least 24 raiders. 8.20pm Orkney: Air Raid Warning RED

OSDef HQ (Stromness Hotel) - CO Brigadier Kemp very unwell - has spent day in bed but "got out by raid 8.15. Dressed and saw whole show."

Source: @Ness_Battery

First wave of attacks on Scapa Flow

They are targeting booms across Hoxa and Switha Sounds. AA guns open barrage fire.

Flotta: Buchanan Coast Battery hit by bombs - no casualties - battery still under construction and not manned.

'Scapa Barrage' HAA fire over Scapa Flow proves effective - attacking planes make no attempts at dive-bombing against ships.

Orkney Defences Operation Instruction 7 - Section 1E

Source: @Ness_Battery

Hurricanes intercept He 111s over Orkney

Hurricanes from Wick intercept 6 enemy aircraft 40 miles E of Copinsay. Formation broken up, one shot down into sea. Heinkel 111 lands at Wick, 2 crew dead, pilot & wireless operator taken prisoner. Great difficulty for pilots - planes attacking from West, no light.

HMS CURLEW estimates 24 planes in attacks, 6 turned away by fighters. "the objective appeared to be the Hoxa and Switha booms. High level bombing against a floating boom could hardly be expected to achieve success. No bombs fell particularly close to the target."

The raid is made up of He 111 and Ju 88.

War Diary Appendix 3 showing times of raid on 8.4.1940

Source: @Ness_Battery

Skuas sink Königsberg

Skuas from 800 & 803 Sqns (from Hatston, HMS SPARROWHAWK) attack & sink Königsberg in Bergen - first major warship ever sunk by aerial attack.

Lieutenant William Lucy, Officer Commanding 803 Sqn. has read intelligence reports of a German cruiser in Bergen harbour and persuades Major R T Partridge, Officer Commanding 800 Sqn. to take part in a dive bombing raid.

All but one of the Skuas made it back. But only just... There's an account of the attack and some stunning images on a page dedicated to the attack.

Source: @Ness_Battery

804 and 605 Sqn. scrambled to intercept aircraft over Orkney

804 Sqn. (Gladiators) patrolling Copinsay intercept Do 17 at 16:40.

804 Sqn's diary, quoted in Sky over Scapa, reads:

A tremendous day for HMS Sparrowhawk, the first and we hope by no means the last. 804 Squadron began their fun at 16.05 hours when Yellow Section flew off to Copinsay. There were a great many plots on the board, the weather fine with layers of cloud varying in density up to about 10,000 feet. about 16.40 hours P/O Sabey saw a Do17 and the section gave chase. Sub.Lt. Fell got in a burst at about 500 yds. as the Do17 disappeared into the cloud but followed him in.P/O Peacock went in above the cloud and as he came out so did the Do17, 400 yds. away. Peackock got in a burst before the enemy aircraft dived away back into the clouds. We were later informed that Do17 was crying SOS with a leaking petrol tank and did not reach his base.

Flotta AA guns open fire on single plane

AA guns open fire on single plane, which is later shot down by fighters.

Flotta: Heavy anti-aircraft battery 'F1' machine-gunned by German plane. No casualties.

Flotta: 99 LAA Battery report that fluted nails were dropped by German plane from c. 3500ft. When examined, they are thought to be fragments from a plane "as they cannot be considered as an effective missile." No bombs dropped in 1st raids. More raids expected - enemy aircraft off Wick was sending detailed reconnaissance and weather reports to Germany."

Source: @Ness_Battery

804 and 43 Sqn intercept He 111 over Orkney

Red Section of 804 Sqn. (Gladiators from Hatston) are patrolling between Copinsay and Burray when they see an He 111K ten miles east which is being chased by 43 Sqn. Hurricanes from Wick.

804 Sqn's diary, quoted in Sky over Scapa, reads:

At 16.45 hours Red Section was sent to patrol between Copinsay and Burray. As soon as it got there, Carver saw a Heinkel 111K about ten miles east going north-east. Hot pursuit was begun and as the Section followed, Hurricanes could be seen on the cloud dodging Heinkel's tail. After a few minutes the enemy aircraft began climbing, twisting and diving. By the time Red Section arrived and got within range, 43 Squadron had done their job. The enemy aircraft's motors were idling and he dived down to 20 feet over the sea. For two or three miles, he held at 20 feet with a dark oil streak trailing behind him on the sea and finally flopped, port wing first. Six Hurricanes and Red Section few around the wreck as three of the crew swam for it.

Main air raid on Orkney starts

Estimates vary, possibly as many as 60 aircraft, Junkers 88s and Heinkel 111s, 7-10,000ft. One wave approaches from the east and another from the south-east.

605 Sqn. Hurricanes are scrambled from Wick and 804 Sqn. Gladiators are scrambled from Hatston.

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) No. 605 Squadron.

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
WICK. 10.4.40. Fine day with little wind. No activity in the morning and patrols were ordered over South going convoy from Kirkwall. At approx. 1545 hours P/O.Muirhead while on convoy patrol sighted enemy aircraft and carried out two attacks before losing him in cloud. An hour later F/O. Leeson leading red section saw two enemy aircraft at 14000 ft. climbed and brought the one down and two of crew jumped with parachute. It is unknown for certain whether the first machine encountered by F/O. Muirhead was brought down or not. For the next six hours there was intense activity far greater than anything seen previously. The released Squadron was brought to Stand-By; at one time we had three sections at Stand-By and it was still said there there were not sufficient fighter aircraft. Four pilots fired rounds at enemy aircraft and made out reports. F/O Lesson P/O. Carter, P/O. Muirhead and Sgt.Moffatt. Red section were available for 2¼ hours. "A" Flight were supplying the night phase pilots at at approx. 2045 hours Wick Air Raid Warning sounded; two of Red and Yellow section took off together with others from 43 and 111 Squadrons there were about 10 aircraft in the air after dark to encounter a raid on Scapa of about 40 enemy aircraft who came over in successive waves. Anti-Aircraft fire was intense and there were one or two loud reports of bombs one on the Pentland Skerries but no damage at all was reported. P/O. Edge and Flying Officer Austin P/O Currant and Sgt Mainland took part; F/O. Edge attacked three separate enemy aircraft and P/O. Current used all his ammunition on one enemy aircraft but neither pilots was able to say definitely with what results. It was reported that this station together with Hatston and anti-aircraft had accounted for seven enemy aircraft during the day.

Source: @Ness_Battery

Orkney air defences open fire on raiders

Ness Battery: Single Heinkel 111 approaches from E, 800ft over Battery. Ness Battery's 5 Bren guns open fire. No hits.

Flotta - Stanger Battery's Brens open fire on low flying aircraft, which fire back. No casualties.

Map of Flotta defences

At least 2 waves of bombers turn away when faced with HAA barrage fire and fighters, but ~20 press on and ~15 250kg and 500kg bombs dropped, mostly on Flotta. Luftwaffe targeting the Hoxa and Switha booms again. Buchanan Battery hit - no casualties.

Diagram of Orkney raid 10.04.1940

Ness Battery: 2nd plane low over huts. Brens open fire. Plane 'disappeared over Black Craig, swerving violently'. Ness Battery makes tentative claim as a 'kill' - thought unlikely to have made it back to base.

Sketch of aircraft downed near Stromness 10.04.1940

HMS SUFFOLK hit during air raid on Scapa Flow - but not badly damaged. SUFFOLK took part in occupation of Faeroe Islands three days later and sank German tanker "Skagerrak" off Norway on 14th.

Twin 4-inch Mk XVI guns HMS SUFFOLK © IWM (A 4194)

During the raids two AA gunners killed in explosion at gun site in S Ronaldsay ('R3' manned 178 HAA Bty at Herston). Gnr Thomas COCKBURN & Gnr Alfred SAYERS, both aged 39, buried at St Peter's, South Ronaldsay. OSDef CO Brig. Kemp at funeral on 13 April 1940.

Diagram of Hoxa defences

Source: @Ness_Battery

All Clear ('Raiders Past') given to Orkney

AA guns fired 2450 rounds, claim 3 shot down. RAF shot down at least 2, possibly 6. At least five aircraft are shot down and later intelligence reports that several damaged aircraft failed to make it back to their bases. The Luftwaffe never again attacked Scapa in such strength. Churchill praises Scapa's defences for repelling the attacks: "The batteries can deliver...what is probably far the heaviest concentration of anti-aircraft fire in the world." WSC 11-4-1940

Newspaper report of Orkney raid

Source: @Ness_Battery

Sgt. Pilot Robert Marwick Mainland

Sgt. R.M. Mainland is killed in a training accident.

566418 Sgt Robert Marwick Mainland

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) No. 605 Squadron.

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
WICK. 25.4.40. It is with regret that a report is made on the death of 566418 R.M. MAINLAND, Sgt.Pilot killed on a flying accident on a non-operational flight. His Section leader instructed Yellow 2 and 3 to break formation to allow him to do a barrell roll. It appears that this airman did not break away sufficiently when the leader had completed 270° the back of his cockpit hood struck the starboard mainplane breaking off 4-5 ft from the tip. The aircraft went into a spin from 5000 ft the pilot did not jump until about 500 ft from the ground, his parachute only partly opening and was killed instantly - position 6 miles due west of Thurso - Forss House on Thurso-Melvick road. P/O. Currant Yellow 1. returned safely to to [sic] his base - aircraft badly damaged. R/O. P. Danielson damaged his aircraft at 2200 hours by accidentally taxying into the Floodlight due to confusion of lights. At the time it was reported that German aircraft were over the aerodrome. Whether good and warm.

His funeral is postponed twice before being buried with full military honours.

His grave is located in Grave 411, Section O, in Wick Cemetery, Caithness.

Grave of Robert Mainland in Wick Cemetery

Robert Marwick Mainland was born on September 9th 1916 at 11 Broad Street, Kirkwall. He was the son of Robert Mainland, Essaquoy, and Jessie Marwick, Scockness. His name was added to the Rousay War Memorial in the Spring of 2017, and a dedication service was attended by his cousin, niece and nephew, and representatives of the Kirkwall Branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland.

Rousey war memorial

Sources: Rousay remembered

Sgt Mainland's funeral postponed

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) No. 605 Squadron.

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
WICK. 27.4.40. Funeral of 566418 R.M. Mainland altered three times finally fixed for 29/4/40 at Wick. The Officer Commanding has incurred displeasure at H.Q.F.C. and No. 13 Group. by omitting to render a report on the accident to 645484. AC. Taylor - also by not reporting on accident to Hurricane aircraft which was placed on its nose by F/O. B. Hillcoat when taxying on a high wind on March 31st. Weather Fair, nothing to report. P/O PASSY joined Unit.

Sgt Mainland's funeral postponed again

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) No. 605 Squadron.

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
WICK. 29.4.40. Owing to the difficulties of Railway transport and a misunderstanding by Sergt MAINLAND father of Sgt Mainland Killed on 25/4. The funeral arrangements for 1500 hours to-day had to be changed three times and finally postponed until 1000 hours tomorrow owing to Father not arriving until 1730 hours. F/O Austin having to take a Magister to INVERNESS to collect him. Weather very cold, no operations.

Sgt Mainland buried with full military honours in Wick cemetary

OPERATIONS RECORD BOOK of (Unit or Formation) No. 605 Squadron.

Place Date Time Summary of Events References to Appendices
WICK. 30.4.40. With full Military Honours Sgt Mainland was carried from the Bignold Hospital at 0930 hours and interred at Wick Cemetery at 1030 hours. Weather bad, cold and poor visibility.