Sqn. Ldr. Newell "Fanny" Orton KIA
Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:18

Paul Davies

Sqn. Ldr. Newell "Fanny" Orton KIA

Posted reply originally in thread below in reply to above post on Sun Nov 11, 2012 22:1090.205.124.243


As you say, the aircraft and his body were, as far as I know, still never found.

Sqn. Ldr. Newel "Fanny" Orton, (who scored almost as many victories as "Cobber" Kaine in France), has no known grave.

I am especially today remembering men like him, also men like "Pat" Pattle and others who were never found.

Below is what information I have found on this amazing pilot.

Squadron Leader Newell "Fanny" Orton

* Born 1915 in Warwick.
+ Killed in Action 17 September 1941.

About when "Fanny" Orton joined the RAF, most sources are silent, but since November 1937 he served in the rank of Flying Officer in 73 Squadron.

At this time, 73 Sqn used the Gloster Gladiator fighters and "Fanny" Orton soon became a master with this machine. In May 1938 he participated as a display pilot, due to his skill, at the Empire Air Day at Hendon, where in Gladiator K7965, he demonstrated, along with fellow future RAF fighter ace Edgar James "Cobber" Cain who flew Gladiator K7985 in what was still known then as an acrobatic exhibition. Later known as Aerobatics.

73 Squadron underwent a big change in July of that year. Their stock of Gladiators were handed over to 3 Wing and they equipped with the 300 mph plus monoplane fighter, the Hawker Hurricane, on which they made the Squadron famous in the Battle of France and in the Phoney War period of 1939 and early 1940 in France.

When war broke out this meant a move to France, which took place on the 9th September 1939. 73 Sqn become part of the newly-formed 67 Fighter Wing Air Component of the BEF. Its aim was the protection of bombers and reconnaissance aircraft of the RAF as well as its ground forces.

The first clash with the Germans was on 6th November, when a group of Bf 109e fighters swept by P/O Peter V Ayerst. "Cobber" Kaine I think scored the first victory of the unit two days later when he shot down a reconnaissance Dornier 17.

"Fanny" Orton opened his account on the 23rd November and was immediately a success twice.
In the morning, he first participated in the downing of an He 111 H-2 (FC + F6) from 2(F)/122 and shared another with pilots from 1 Sqn including Flt. Lt. Plinstone, Sgt. Clowes and three Frenchmen from GC II/5

His second victim was another He 111, this time a version of the H-1 (W.Nr.5262) ​​of Stab/KG 53 which was also on a mission and crashed at Verize. Two members of the crew lost their lives.

Another victory "Fanny" Orton scored in the new year of 1940,was a Messerschmitt Bf 109E. on the 26th March.

First, around noon, he fought a swarm of Messerschmitt Bf 110`s, the match ended with one damaged engine on each side. Later that day in other combats with JG 53, they got credited with three Bf 109s destroyed and one probable.
This is when the press began to make the name famous in the press of "Cobber" Kain, who scored two victories, overall then, he had 5 now becoming the first RAF ace in WW2.

Around half past three 73 Sqn fought with JG 53, "Fanny" Orton was now involved in these later combats and "Fanny" claimed two victories. Later this was shown that both fights showed JG 53 with claims that they only had three slightly damaged aircraft.

Another double victory Orton scored on the 21st April and became only the second fighter ace in the Squadron but also throughout the RAF.

That afternoon the squadron pilots were involved in a fight with the formation of fighter Bf 109e`s and Bf 110`s and scored a 3-3-2 victory. Orton scored his first after an extended combat with a Bf 109e, presumably the machine of Ofw. W. Höppner of 1/JG 53. The other combat sent to earth in flames probably an aircraft from 1/ZG 2 and pilot Fw. S. Fischer was killed and Uffz shooter. E. Mayer rescued injured on a parachute.

On 3 May "Fanny" Orton, (after "Cobber" Kain) became the second pilot to get decorated with the award of the DFC.

On 10th May 1940 the Germans launched their Blitzkrieg and air fighting flared up fully. Unfortunately, due to the great confusion, many details of his victories were not preserved.

Most documents were lost during the retreat (lost or destroyed) and reconstructed when back after returning to Britain.

Orton is credited with at least 9 and some victories, most of them are not aware of the full details. Orton went on to be credited with at least 15 by the end of 1940 and possibly 18.

May 10th around 4.00 pm he was involved in damage to a Dornier 17 from 4./KG 3, which was the first victory of the RAF during the German attack on May 10th, when the true Battle of France commenced. The following day, May the 11th, he shot down one Do 17 and a Bf 110. On the fourteenth he damaged another Dornier Bomber, but then came the 15th of May 1940.

Orton was on that day in a combat along with six members of his Hurricane Sqn, which twice fought with faster Bf 110 fighters, indeed the Dornier 215 was also faster than these early Hurricanes. The pilots first encountered the Me110 fighters from 3/ZG 2 and Orton downed an aircraft piloted by Ltn. F. Mentzel. He was with his gunner Gefr. Oechsle and captured. Their plane landed in woods at Boult-au-Bois.

After about half an hour in combat with Me110s Orton managed to shoot a Messerschmitt down from a claimed three from 73 Sqn and one probably destroyed, but then "Fanny" Orton`s Hurricane- P2579 TP-J got hit and set on fire, which was the fate of so many Hurricane pilots in 1940.

Orton was burned and injured, in big trouble as he left the Hurricane at a suicidal height of around six hundred feet on a parachute, just getting his chute open in time but during the descent shots were fired at him by several French soldiers. Fortunately these Frenchmen were close to the British soldiers who saved him from further violence. Badly burned, Orton was then quickly transferred to a hospital in Bétheniville, where he was subsequently evacuated to Britain.

His injuries were apparently more serious, because the recovery was stretched and Orton was not fit enough to fight in the Battle of Britain. Who knows what his score would then have been?

In early July 1940 for his courage and achievements in fighting in France, he was awarded the bar to the earlier DFC and Orton became the first pilot in World War II to receive this award twice.

After recovering, he worked as an instructor at 59 OTU and was promoted.

At the beginning of July 1941, Orton returned to active duty. The first was as a supernumerary Squadron Leader sent to the famous Bader Wing to gain experience with command functions.

Even at the end of July, assuming command of 54 Sqn which was then fighting in Sweeps and Circuses over occupied Europe.

On the twelfth of August 1941 the RAF was very busy, there were several attacks against targets in France, during which Allied fighters claimed victories 6-5-9, but lost nine Spitfires, not good for the balance sheet. Number 54 Squadron took part in the action on Circus No.69 over Saint Omer, and had drawn away the attention from the main attack on power stations at Cologne ( on Circus No.77).

Above St. Omer 54 Squadron got into a fight with German fighters and Orton, flying the Spitfire Mk.V with the remainder of the Sqn using the Mark 2 Spitfires got two certain victories.

17 September 1941 54 Squadron participated in operations on Circus 95. The fighters from JG 26 attacked them and things did not turn out too well. Although the pilots announced the four probable victories, one of those lost was belonging to Sqn. Ldr. Newell "Fanny" Orton, three Spitfires returned and two others were injured.

Over France that day combat cost the lives of Sgt. D. Draper (Spitfire Mk.VB/AB813), Sgt. R. A. Overson (W3109), but the great loss of S/Ldr "Fanny" Orton. His body nor the wreckage of his Spitfire W3772 were ever found. Sqn. Ldr. Orton has no known grave and is remembered on the 28th Panel of the memorial at Runnymede.

B. Cull - B. Landers - H. Weiss: Twelve Days in May, Grub Street, London, 1995
Foreman J. fighter Comand War Diaries, Part 1, Air Research Publications, Walton-on-Thames, 2002
J. Foreman: RAF Fighter Comand Victory Claims of WW2, Red Kite, Walton-on-Thames, 2003
Cornwell, PD: The Battle of France Then and Now, After the Battle, Old Harlow, 2007
T. Holmes: Hurricane Aces 1939-1940, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 1998
C. Shores - C. Williams: Aces High, Grub Street, London, 1994
C. Shores: Aces High, volume 2, Grub Street, London, 1999

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    • Sqn. Ldr. Newell "Fanny" Orton KIA — Paul Davies, Mon Nov 12 12:18
      • Sqn Ldr. Newel "Fanny" OrtonPaul Davies@sky.com, Mon Nov 12 12:27
        Great job that you are doing for remembering this fine fighter ace, John. Spitfire: Does anyone have a photograph of, or a photograph that includes Spitfire W3772 "The County of Moray", which was... more
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