After Lockerbie – Kegworth Air Disaster.

After Lockerbie life seemed to be in a daze Christmas came and went life continued normality resumed.   Mountain Rescue call outs came thick and fast but things were very different. After New Year we all went back to work many of the team suffered as work mates at RAF Leuchars wanted to know in detail what happened, this shocked many troops. Regularly team members came to me for help especially the younger ones and I had to talk to bosses that this was not acceptable.  Many workmates incredibly wanted to know the gruesome details. If you are involved in such a task few want to discuss it apart from with those they trust. Many families found it very hard to cope and relationships suffered. Families just had no clue what they had seen and done.  Team members all coped differently each in their own bubble. Later on I was summoned to the Medical centre at RAF Leuchars and spoken to alone to by several medical experts before my team was briefed by psychiatrists led by  Gordon Turnbull and his team. This was hugely difficult and then I had to brief my team that psychiatrists were coming to talk to them as a group. I had a massive argument with several older troops they said this was not acceptable to them and not the way we did it in these days. This was in the days before Post-traumatic stress disorder was accepted in the military. I had asked for their help as soon as I spoke to my Control on the early hours of Lockerbie. In the end they all attended the brief and a few used the the individual help offered by the medical world. As I said before I received a lot of hassle as in these days you got on with it that was the way of the world then. In the end it is now acceptable and Gordon Turnbull is a now world authority on PTSD much built on these early days at Lockerbie.  Few know this fact!

Trauma - A book well worth reading by Professor Gordon Turnbull on PTSD.

Trauma – A book well worth reading by Professor Gordon Turnbull on PTSD.

A few weeks later came the  Kegworth Air Disaster it occurred on 8 January 1989, when British Midland Flight BD 92, a Boeing 737 -400 crashed onto the embankment of the MI motorway near Kegworth, Leicestershire, in Britain. The aircraft was attempting to conduct an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport.  Of the 126 people aboard, 47 died and 74, including seven members of the flight crew, sustained serious injuries. Few know that RAF Stafford and RAF Leeming Mountain Rescue Teams were involved. This times lives were saved as the Mountain Rescue assisted getting injured people out of the aircraft – this was 3 weeks after being involved in Lockerbie. Who says lightning does not strike twice?

1989 January - 3 weeks after Lockerbie the RAF Teams are again in action. This time lives are saved.

1989 January – 3 weeks after Lockerbie the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams at Leeming and Stafford are again in action. This time lives are saved. Ropes are used to secure the aircraft and split stretchers to get casualties out.  Few know this!

This is the end of the Lockerbie story from me for a while, I thank everyone who shared the Blog and to those who emailed me and contacted me over a tragic story which I feel must be told and retold! Maybe the government will get to grips with the truth one day?

Great friends who I respect have given me strength to tell our part of the story and some have benefited from the tales. I think families now understand a bit better what their loved ones went through and they are the unseen part of Mountain Rescue and the Emergency Services. The families at times are the unknown casualties yet they still give support and love to those involved, I thank them all.

The weather is still wet and miserable and I am still not out on the hills. Soon hopefully nature the wind and weather will do their bit and help clear the mind.

Thank you for all the support, love and care. If your friend or partner was involved give them a cuddle and look after them.

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.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Book, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Views Political?. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to After Lockerbie – Kegworth Air Disaster.

  1. Dave says:

    Great insight heavy and I understand the reluctance of people not wanting to get involved in the talking therapies . However as a social worker for over twenty years I have seen this change. Having worked with both the army and navy times have changed.TRIM trauma risk management is a vital aspect of support to people involved in trauma and near miss incidents and is led by trained peers. It has been rolled out across emergency services too.the mind needs to be strong and looked after just like kit and physical fitness!


    • heavywhalley says:

      Good to see things are a lot better than all those days ago. It was a unique tragedy as we were not at war but waiting for Christmas as different mind set than a war where one. expects huge trauma.

      Regards and thanks for the comments. Heavy


  2. Bill Skelson AKA Skeloon says:

    Heavy – I well remember these 2 events as though they were yesterday – although out of the system – my thoughts were with the troops involved with these 2 disasters – I cannot imagine the trauma some must have gone through – I only did about 4 – 5 aircraft crashes and it was a very much “get on and get over it” attitude, as was any rescue we did – not saying that was right or wrong – that’s how it was – I’m sure you remember this mind-set – fortunately, I like to think I suffered no lasting syndrome – ha ha – you may disagree 😛 – happy Christmas – Aye Skeloon 🙂


    • heavywhalley says:

      That was the way it was Bill – but this was hugely different the sheer scale and the fact that so many young kids were involved. 280 people is a huge amount many had the attitude you talk about at the time “get on with it” they did in the war etc! This was not war this was just before Christmas and surreal. I know of several who suffered after this including me, many of the veterans did, the hard men! We have moved on but it was not easy, many criticised within the system but they were not there and saw what we saw. Life goes on and a least God forbid if it ever happens again lessons have been learned by changing attitudes
      Regards Heavy.


  3. Neil McDougall says:

    I was involved with the lockerbie disaster i was one of the troups that was sent to help to recover the bodys of the e killed it was one of the worst days of my time in the army .We didnt get any help after it was done .I still remember the day i went there as last night i had a dream of me being there again .Which made me post this message . Neil McDougall


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