1952 RAF Mountain Rescue Winter Course – kit list?

1952 winter kit list RAF Mountain Rescue.

1952 winter kit list RAF Mountain Rescue.

The above list is from the first RAF Winter Course held in the Cairngorms after the tragic Beinn Eighe Crash in March 1951. The Lancaster aircraft crashed in March in full winter conditions on one of the toughest mountains in UK. The RAF Mountain Rescue Service was very short of experience, training in winter conditions and equipment. After the crash an inquiry found that the team need more training and equipment and the annual winter course was formed which is still  run annually.


The photo above is of Joss Gosling who was on the RAF Kinloss Team in 1951 when the Lancaster crashed. He is a wealth of knowledge of Mountaineering in this era, where did you get that sign from Joss?   He was chosen as one of the young men on this first winter course he is now living in Fort William and took some incredible photos of the conditions and equipment in 1951. These are an incredible insight into the past and how hard these men were. I have various articles on my blog in the past with Joss’s photos that show how hard the conditions and how basic the gear was they were issued with.

1952 Nominal Role = Johnie Lees, John Barclay and the young  Joss Gosling.

1952 Nominal Role = Johnie Lees, John Barclay and the young Joss Gosling.

When you look at the basic kit it is incredible what they did and achieved in these days, ice axes would have been issued at the course. Crampons were not in favor in these days and tricounis (nailed boots) were used by all. The photo below is from the Scottish Mountain Heritage website and well worth a look http://www.smhc.co.uk

Tricouni boots from the website Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection well worth a look.

Tricouni boots from the website Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection well worth a look. This is what they were using in this era!


Gear and clothing has come on so much since these early days and it is amazing to see what was achieved in these days. I managed to get the call – outs that the RAF Kinloss Team did in 1952 only a few by today’s standards but some incredible incidents from Ben Nevis, An Teallach, the Cairngorms and Skye. There were very few other Rescue Teams about in 1952 most rescues were the locals, the Police, local climbers and the RAF teams, wild days with limited kit.



Ben Nevis


Fallen climber. Major injuries  Gardyloo gully. Tricky rescue.



Ben Nevis


Fallen climber.  Observatory Ridge.  Carried off from CIC hut. 



Coire an Lochan

No 4 Buttress


Fallen climbers.  2 male’s dead and 1 female with broken legs. This was a party from Glenmore Lodge climbing 4 Gully buttress



Dava Moor

Four missing boys from Moray Sea school.  Turned up safe and well.



Isle of Skye

Sgurr Dearg


Fallen climber.  Died of injuries.  2-day search and 2 days to recover body. Team searched in Loch Scavaig boat chartered to take team. Difficult recovery.



An Teallach


Fallen walker body recovery below a gully on Sail Liath, below bad step.




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, Friends, History, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Political?. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 1952 RAF Mountain Rescue Winter Course – kit list?

  1. Ian Rideout says:

    Heavy, when are you going to complete your book? I don’t know how many reads your blog gets, but I know your mountain rescue stories would attract an even wider audience, with your anecdotes and wonderful descriptions of our beloved wild places. Frankly, your passion for our mountains, your desire to pass on your knowledge and experience and your writing style, make a great combination for a best seller! I would be very happy to proof read….


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