A BRITISH diplomat is playing super sleuth to help solve the mystery surrounding a Scottish sailor whose grave he found on Mauritius.

Keith Allan, the UK High Commissioner to Mauritius, started his investigations after coming across the resting place of John Fairfull – a seaman from Airdrie who drowned off the paradise isle, aged 21 in 1952.

The Scot had been en route to the Monte Bello islands to help conduct the first British nuclear bomb tests.

Glasgow-born Mr Allan managed to contact Mr Fairfull’s family through Twitter to help shed light on their loved one’s life and death.

Civil servant Mr Allan, 52, said: “The family has taken a great deal of comfort from discovering more of the story behind their uncle John’s life and death. 

“I had spotted this dark and dirty headstone and when I started reading that he was from Airdrie I thought, ‘Oh, gosh’, that’s near to where I was brought up. I did my school work experience with Airdrie Savings Bank and played football for Airdrie under-15s so I have great memories of the town.

“And when I posted the picture of the grave on Twitter, pointing out he had served aboard HMS Campania, the family responded. It proved to be a crucial part of the jigsaw to helping them finally learn more about his life.

“They not only discovered exactly where he is buried, but knowing for the first time the ship he had served on has opened up all number of records to help them find out more about his service and life.

“I’ve been able to find some original photographs of the HMS Campania crew on Mauritius and have sent them to a relative now living in Canada.”

Glasgow Times: The grave of John Fairfull in Mauritius. He drowned off the island in July 1952The grave of John Fairfull in Mauritius. He drowned off the island in July 1952

Mr Allan, a keen war historian, arranged for Mr Fairfull’s grave to 
be professionally cleaned in time for last year’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

He said: “I have always been hugely impressed at how the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cares for the graves of those who served and help families trace their relatives. I saw that at first hand while serving in Russia and supporting visits by veterans of the Arctic Convoys, many from Scotland.”

The investigation into the Scot’s grave on Mauritius has become very much an international affair because many members of Mr Fairfull’s family now live in Canada.

Mr Allan’s research has helped the family discover Mr Fairfull was travelling with 85 scientists aboard the command ship for Operation Hurricane – the test of the first British atomic bomb on the Monte Bello islands, near western Australia.

John Dorman, the sailor’s nephew, said: “My family and relatives were amazed and grateful to Keith for being curious enough to have made the effort to contact us and for the respect he has given my uncle John’s memorial.

“After Keith mentioned HMS Campania it helped me find out it was an escort aircraft carrier on a mission to Monte Bello Islands for Britain’s first atomic bomb tests. That was a surprise. It’s a pity my uncle didn’t make it there – I’m sure he would have had a story 
to tell.

“I was told at a young age that I had an uncle John who had drowned off the coast of Mauritius soon after I was born. He was engaged to be married shortly before his death. I remember my grandmother showing me a large bronze medallion that had been sent to her by the navy.

“I was not curious enough to learn more about him until later in life. I never did investigate any further than that, until I saw a programme on TV that mentioned Mauritius. 

“It prompted me to search again and I was very surprised and excited to find Keith Allan’s tweet about my uncle’s grave. I haven’t been able to track down any photos of uncle John before his death. It’s exciting to think he could be one of the men in the photos Keith has uncovered of the ship’s crew on Mauritius.”