Plaque commemorates downed pilot

Flight Lieutenant John Saville Flt Lt John Saville was shot down off Guernsey on 6 June 1944

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A plaque is being unveiled on Thursday in memory of a Canadian pilot killed off Guernsey's coast 70 years ago.

Flt Lt John Saville was shot down the day before D-Day as he bombed a radar installation on the island.

The Freya radar at Fort George was of significant military importance as it covered the area to the west of the Normandy beaches.

An entry from 439 Squadron's War Operations Record Book

"Carrying two nose-fused (instantaneous) 500lb bombs each, the squadron led by Flt Lt Saville against the highly defended target [descended] in a long dive from 11,000ft to 3,000ft in an easterly direction.

"All of the bombs appeared to burst on or near the target itself. A large explosion was reported in the sea about a mile offshore and at the time it was believed to have been a bomb.

"Flt Lt Saville was not seen after the dive and it was later presumed that his aircraft had been hit by the intense flak and failed to recover from the dive.

"Immediately upon their return, a section of four aircraft led by Flying Officer Burton was dispatched to search for traces of the missing aircraft.

"The search was unsuccessful."

Courtesy of Michael Melnick

Flt Lt Saville's downed Typhoon aircraft was discovered by divers in the 1970s.

Dennis Le Moignan, Constable of St Peter Port, organised the plaque and says it commemorates all airmen who died over Guernsey waters during the war

"It's close to 300," said Constable Le Moignan.

"Quite a number of B17 Flying Fortresses were lost to the west of the island on their way back from France.

"This plaque is purely for John Saville... but he was one man out of hundreds who lost their lives and by making it a tribute to him, it's a tribute to everybody."

The plaque is being unveiled by Guernsey's Lieutenant Governor Peter Walker in St Peter Port on a wall overlooking Havelet.

Difficult to trace

Flt Lt Saville, who was 34 when he died, was originally from Vancouver, Canada but was based in Dorset during the World War Two.

Constable Le Moignan says the passage of time has made it difficult to trace members of Flt Lt Saville's family, some of whom are believed to live in the UK.

"We've lost trace of the family.

"There could be a nephew living somewhere in Devon. We've made some provisional enquiries and come up with nothing but I'm going to carry on doing it because I would really like to let them know."

Flt Lt Saville was a member of 439 Squadron, which was formed in 1943, and was the first member of his unit to be killed in action.

Fort George Radar Station John Saville was targeting the radar station at Fort George when he was shot down
Canadian Air Force Typhoon A Canadian Typhoon aircraft similar to the one flown by Flt Lt Saville

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