Caithness at War Trail launch event taking place this Saturday at Wick John O’ Groats airport

Caithness at War Launch event

Wick John O’ Groats airport is looking forward to welcoming visitors to a special event on Saturday 20 April as it celebrates the official launch of the Caithness at War trail.

The launch event which starts at 2pm, will mark the completion of phase one of the project and will be an opportunity for visitors to the airport to see the newly erected information boards which have been placed in the car park at the airport and everyone is welcome to attend.

The boards are part of 46 installations around the area, explaining the role played in guarding against the threat of invasion during the war.

Wick Airport Board

Dougie Cook, General Manager at Wick John O’Groats airport said, “The airport has a fascinating part in the wartime heritage of the local area, and we are delighted to have some of the boards telling these stories located on-site. We hope that as many people as possible will come to the launch event to discover the rich heritage of the location and the local area including some fascinating stories of heroism.”

One famous incident from this time was that of Flight Lieutenant Alastair Donand Mackintosh “Sandy” Gunn who was shot down whilst flying from RAF Wick on a reconnaissance sortie and captured. He was transported to Stalag Luft III and was part of the Great Escape. He was unfortunately recaptured, interrogated by the Gestapo and then executed, on the orders of Adolf Hitler.

The Great Escape Board

The airport also played a crucial role in the sinking of the Bismarck, which was the pride and joy of Nazi Germany’s navy and a threat to allied shipping during the war. Pilot Officer Michael ‘Babe’ Suckling, took off from RAF Wick to locate and take images of the vessel from a long-range reconnaissance Spitfire, returning to commanders in a daredevil night-time dash, leading to a major propaganda coup for Britain.

Bismarck Board

The Caithness at War project is being delivered by Sinclair’s Bay Trust and Wick Development Trust, with funding from the SSE Caithness Beatrice Community Fund. At the launch event, plans for phase two of the project, will centre on the creation of a Caithness Allied Air Forces Memorial to remember the aircrew and service personnel who lost their lives operating from the county’s three RAF stations at Wick, Castletown and Skitten and fundraising for the potential installation of a life-size replica of a Spitfire.

A new website for Caithness at War project will be launched on Saturday, providing more information on the trail which uses Augmented Reality to bring the stories to life at

Published: 15th April 2024