Lockerbie – Day 2 and 3 then home to normality?

Normality amongst Chaos.

Normality amongst Chaos. A Jumbo jet engine embedded in the road.

The Mountain Rescue Teams started searching at first light and swept areas nearby mapping where the casualties where and the major debris was. We were in the Lockerbie High School which was our Control point and became the nerve centre of the operation. The troops came in after short searches and up dated our maps of the area, it was surreal, Soon we needed additional maps as the area expanded and we had photos Reece done of the area which was massive. Team member’s were added to the helicopters and soon the totals were over 150. The team was all shocked and all came in to de brief with so many sad stories. They passed the same casualties time and time again, they became friends and the troops mentioned where aircraft wreckage was found by the casualties near by. By now the Police were nominating a Policeman to each casualty as this was scene of crime.  It was an awful time as some of the casualties were in a terrible state but it was the presents wrapped in Christmas paper and the smell of fuel that stick in the mind.  Various agencies had arrived secret service and the like, we debriefed them on what was in each area, our mapping was the used  throughout the search. That night we washed and stayed in the Gymnasium 4 RAF teams together and we went out that night as the locals opened a pubs for us.  Few slept. We were in a crazy world, the press was all over it was early days of satellite communications.  All the phone lines were down and I got the BT to put in some emergency phones which were invaluable. I still getting huge bills from them for many months.    A few others had arrived with other things in mind to loot and steal as there was so much valuable stuff about but they got sorted. Team member’s brought in some valuables which we handed over to the Police. Lots of memories that went on for another two days. Then we were pulled out by our control at Pitreavie. As we left the Army were moving the casualties a terrible job to the make shift mortuary. This left others the local Mountain Rescue teams and Search dogs stayed for weeks searching the 1500 k search area.   Their hell continued for a long time after us.lockerbie-aerial_451371a1

As I said yesterday I written about the Lockerbie experience in my blog and website a complete article. We travelled back to RAF Leuchars about 2 hours journey we arrived and were met by the Station Commander we were flavour of the month for a while on the Station. Mountain Rescue was at the forefront and our views were feted and our reports on the incident listened to by the Goverment. RAF Mountain Rescue was not a skive any more by the powers that be but a huge addition to the Rescue services. We gained new equipment and sorted out long standing problems. We became a part of the Nations emergency policy and that was in 1988. It was soon back to normal and things were forgotten inter service rivalries both Service and Civilian continued to jostle for their positions and funding. Within 10 years it was all forgotten. Senior officers who were not at Lockerbie briefed on the tragedy some talked nonsense but that is life in the military. Back at RAF Leuchars, Stafford, St Athan and Leeming we had a briefing and attempt to help us by the RAF Medical branch and then it was back to normal life. But it wasn’t  life would never be the same. The civilian Teams  and Search Dogs had no assistance at all, they became forgotten!  I speak on the Lessons of Lockerbie as I have unique knowledge of what happened and how we coped. It is so the hard-earned lessons of the past are not forgotten, there were so many lessons learned.

Today it would be different but a remote rural disaster away from man power and communications may be similar. Mountain Rescue and SARDA have a huge part to play and I am sure they will.



Fuel and fire filled the air

All died that landed there.

It was a real nightmare.

For two days long we passed them by

Unknown faces yet we cried.

A scene of crime they cannot move,

We covered them with our clothes.

We searched and searched,we did our best

No life was found you know the rest.

280 souls died that day, many from far away.

Across the sea and far from home, they died so all alone.

It bothers me to this day, why lives are taken in this way?

I pray that we will find out why?

These poor souls were picked to die?

As time goes by I wonder why?

These 280 souls had to die?


The truth is hidden on why and who did this, the last thing Mr Brown’s government did was put a secrecy order on some of the Lockerbie investigation. Before that Blair followed the lure  of the dollar and made peace with Gaddafi. We still no little about what happened and who did it. The worst crime on British soil goes unpunished and hidden by the governments  nearly 24 years on are we any further?  Is there someone out there in power who has the guts who will take this on. We owe it to those who died and those who lives were shattered by the tragedy?

Thanks to all those who emailed and Facebook me, over 50 emails many of those who were there in a rescue and recovery capacity.  I hope this blog has helped those who were there and those who follow on.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
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3 Responses to Lockerbie – Day 2 and 3 then home to normality?

  1. ptsd17 says:

    Totally agree that this has been a forgotten tragedy by agencies and government. I’d hoped things would have turned up or been revealed by the fall of Lybia, but nothing, we’re they ever involved?


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