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Skitten Aerial Views

A-Z of Caithness Places


"Operation Freshman" 60th Anniversary Ceremony
Skitten, Near Wick, Caithness -  Wednesday 20 November 2002

Farmland around this area was also the site of an airfield during the Second World War.  Buildings still remain and are used as Farm Buildings and stores
skittenbuildings1.jpg (29974 bytes) skittenbuildings2.jpg (28068 bytes)
Skitten War Memorial Map Ref - 12/ND325570

Although is is apparently included in the Orkneyinga Saga the name is not easily found on modern maps.  the airfield at Skitten was the base for the attack on the Heavy Water plant at Vermork in Norway called Operation Freshman.  Bombing had been tried and failed and so it was decided to try gliders for an attack.  32 volunteer airborne troops and two Whitley crews from 38 wing moved onto Halifaxes.  There was some confusion at the norway end and the beacons set by the Norwegians could not be found.  The tow rope on one plane broke through icing and the plane the glider crashed into amountain.  the tow plane just made it back to Skitten.  Another combination flew into a mountain and everyone on both planes were killed.  Their were survivors from the first crashed glider who were captured and later executed by the Gestapo..
Skitten was begun as an airfield in in 1940 on the flat treeless landscape for which Caithness has long been known.  At one point in 1942 the seargents mess was catering for over 200 men.  Various squadrons were based at Skitten for a wide range of missions and protection work.
Warnings are still given in manuals that the proximity to Wick may cause confusion in bad weather and that the runways are in a seriously deteriorated condition.  The memorial was only erected in recent years.