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Spitfire crash landing in Scotland WW11

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Spitfire crash landing in Scotland WW11

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Old 14th Jan 2012, 10:33
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Spitfire crash landing in Scotland WW11

I originally posted this in the "nostalgia" page and was warned by resident posters that the thread was generally inhabited by AN,ORAKS as he put it.

Sadly he was correct. Can anyone here throw some light ?

About 24 years ago, a tall distinguished Canadian gentleman walked into my Photography Studio in the small Scottish Border town of Selkirk.

He asked me what it would cost to accompany him to a site a few miles out of town in the direction of Hawick close to the A7 near Dryden in order to take some photographs.

He related a strange tale to me about how he was flying a Spitfire in WW2, overshot Biggin Hill and crash landed out of fuel in that location. He survived the landing and made his way to the roadside.

He was given a lift to Selkirk where he had a beer in the County Hotel after which he made his way to the railway station. He boarded a train to Edinburgh where he eventually reported at RAF Turnhouse.

I was so intrigued by his strange tale that I offered to do the job for free. We agreed to meet the folowing day at 13.00 hrs.

I was so wired by his story that I started calling around the town to see if I could get some background. I called various farmers on the outskirts of the town, the local press and several old established pillars of the community, some of whom had vague memories of some kind of crash landing.

Pretty soon the story was circulating around the town.

The following day, the gentleman failed to turn up at the pre-arranged time. I called the hotel where he had been staying and they told me that after returning from dinner in the town the previous evening, he had advised that he would be checking out the following morning, several days ahead of plan.

I can only assume that he had got wind of the fact that his presence and story was creating a buzz in the town and felt a bit uncomfortable.

I have my own ideas of possible scenarios, overshooting Biggin Hill and landing in the Scottish Borders is not one of them !

If anyone in PpruneLand can help me explain this situation or point me to somewhere that can, I would be very grateful.

Even after 24 years, I cannot shake the story from my head.

To add. From Biggin Hill to the crash landing site is 310 miles as the crow flies. My understanding is that the Spitfire had a range of 395 miles .

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Old 14th Jan 2012, 12:33
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Interesting it may be, but I would love to get a possible interpretation of the event from some qualified responder.


Thanks
El G.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 12:56
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El Grifo

The range of a Spitfire varied between different Marks.

Spitfire Mk 2 500 miles on 85 Gallons

Spitfire Mk 5 470 miles on 85 Gallons

Spitfire Mk 7 660 miles on 120 Gallons

Spitfire Mk 9 980 miles on 175 Gallons
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 13:37
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He related a strange tale to me about how he was flying a Spitfire in WW2, overshot Biggin Hill and crash landed out of fuel in that location.
Errr... How bad a navigator do you have to be to overshoot Biggin and not realize you screwed up until you get to Scotland? That sounds a bit suspect to me...
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 14:06
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This is exactly the angle I am coming from !

The fact that he left the town when the story started to get around left me more confused than ever.

I am skirting around my suspicions, but can anyone offer me a possible scenario or a location where I can dig out some facts
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 14:10
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It's possible.

Lysander R9029 took off in 1940 from Tangmere to pick up agent 'Felix' from Fontainbleau in France. It ended up crashing 4 miles from Oban after running out of fuel in bad weather, although locals say it hit barrage balloon wires as well. That's more of an over run than from Biggin to the Borders In this case, there was some mitigation though, as an enemy rifle round had shattered the compass in France and the pilot had to dead reckon navigate at night. The locals also say the pilot and agent were detained for several days as no one believed their story
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 14:29
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10W:

I'm assuming, (and I know it's wrong of me to do so), that I can take the word "overshot" literally. That implies a "near miss" of sorts where he then continued to fly for some 300 miles. That's a long time to notice that you "overshot"...

The case of the Lysander is different IMO. No "near miss" is implied.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 14:36
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My father had a book about WW2 aircraft crashes in the Norfolk/Suffolk area. One of them was a Spitfire pilot who had taken off on a training flight down in the West Country, got lost and ran out of fuel over East Anglia.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 14:40
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Airborne, the exact words of the gentleman were "I overshot Biggin and run out of fuel"

The distance pans out at more or less 310 miles
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 14:41
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AA, now I come to think of it overshot is different from overshoot. The latter implies after a landing attempt whereas the former is 'merely' flying on past your intended point.

We had a Sudanese student who miscalculated his eta at a turning point and overshot be a considerable distance.

In WW2 with very limited nav aids, and more so in a Spitfire, it is quite possible that once lost things just got worse.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 14:50
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To me it is a little harsh to criticise a pilot for an incident when the 'facts' of the case are contained in a single sentence.

If I had to assume anything (which I hate doing, but in the absence of facts some consider assumptions to be worthy alternatives) I would assume that he was attempting to get to a break in the weather having been unable to land at home plate. Loft in a small unservicability or NORDO and you have an aeroplane with very basic nav kit unable to go IMC.

Distance to crash from home plate would be dictated by fuel and extent of the cloud layer. The latter might have gone on for ever and the former, as we all know, doesn't.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 15:11
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This is opening up very nicely guys. Thank you.

Re-read my initail posting to see if you can pick up any more detail.

What I have written is exactly how it was.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 15:16
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I was in the shower and thinking... Dangerous...

There had to be some kind of Lost Procedure that he should have begun to follow sometime after realizing he was lost and a good time before he ran out of fuel.

I thought about IMC... There had to be a procedure for inadvertent entry into cloud too.

Radio calls. Couldn't we DF radio calls back then?

If he was VMC I'd suggest that London and the river Thames would be a pretty good "overshot boundary".

There's a lot of things that don't make any sense...
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 15:20
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Not really an answer and probably confuses things further , but

"the exact words of the gentleman were "I overshot Biggin and run out of fuel"

Could he have said BIGGAR and not BIGGIN? (Biggar being 20 odd nm WNW of the supposed crash site.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 15:33
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100% absolute, BIGGIN !

If he was VMC I'd suggest that London and the river Thames would be a pretty good "overshot boundary".

There's a lot of things that don't make any sense...
I agree with that Airborne. That is why the story has stayed alive in my head for so long.

Would you consider any other scenarios ?
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 15:58
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A "Walt" who did some research and then revisited the scene of the incident hoping to bask in some kudos and maybe blag some B&B and then fled the scene when he realised he had been rumbled?
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 16:09
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No! This was a very sincere and humble person who fits perfectly the nomeclature of "gentleman".

Hence the reason why I used the term !
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 17:46
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Thing is, we have become pre occupied with this post, with the flying range of the Spitfire. May I offer a slight diversity, the OP was questioning (my reading) why the alleged pilot failed to make the appointment at 13:00

1) We can presume the mystery person stayed at the hotel because we have evidence that the OP phoned the hotel and was given the information that the guest had booked out the next morning.

2) From past experience, if one stays at a hotel, one usually has dinner at the hotel. I find it strange that this person decided (or did he?) to take dinner in the town.

3) Did the OP ascertain the full name of this person, reason being, phoned the hotel and enquire the guest by name? ElGrifo, did you get this guys name?



Daz

Last edited by dazdaz1; 14th Jan 2012 at 18:15.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 18:34
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Actually Selkirk is a very small Borders town and where he a was staying was to all intents and purposes, a B+B which did not offer evening meals.

He told me where he was staying and I knew the owner personally.

I am sure he introduced himself by name but that name has long escaped me.

When I called the hotel (B+B) I could have asked for him by name or I could have asked about "the Canadian Gentelman"

I have no reason to doubt his tale, he presented himself as a very polite, cultured, person. I remember his appearance to this day. Not the kind of person one would normally find around the town, very distiguished in appearance, tall, silver haired, shirt and tie, good walking brogues and a long poplin type raincoat, they type favoured by US and Canadian gents at the time.

The town of Selkirk does not really feature on the Tourist map. This fellows presence would not have escaped the notice of the populace.

Within a couple of days he would have become a talking point which in fact he did after my spate of enquiries.

An old farmer from the area had vague memories of a aircraft crash in the area, but could not really fill in any details.

It was only a few years after the event that this thing started to interest me. If I had made more enquiries at the time I might have uncovered more.

I have lived overseas for some 18 years now !
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 19:11
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So we can agree this incident/meeting happened in 1988

1) "Told me where he was staying, and I know the owner personally" fine. I suggest you ask the owner (record keeping of hotel guest book has to cover the past 30 years) so give your hotel friend a call and get a name.

2) A Google does not suggest Poplin 'type' raincoats US/Canada/brogue shoes were the norm in 1988

Therefore my conclusion is.

1) This gentleman was a distraction thief, did you do a stock take after his visit?
2) A wind up of people on here.

I rest my case.

Daz
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