Continued from yesterdays blog
The next day the weather was poor and it took 5 hours to reach the wreck the snow was waist deep in places. At the crash site the temperatures were very low -27 and the bodies of the crew were frozen, they located three more bodies and said a prayer at the main wreckage site, it must have been another awful scene for the Rescue Team. Only one American reached the site that day. They team were too exhausted to carry the casualties off the hill as the weather got worse and some were already starting to see the first signs of frostbite. This was very different weather as many of the team had never worked in such conditions and few only in Cyprus. Again for the third night more snow fell and the RAF Team using the heavy Thomas Stretcher only managed to bring another body down, again it took 5 hours to reach the site.
On the 24 th the weather cleared and the American’s offered many of the villagers money to assist, the team brought down another body and thought that was the end of their efforts. Unfortunately for some of the team the Americans requested longer assistance from the team. Luckily the weather held allowing a helicopter to take three of the US Naval Investigation Team to an altitude of 6800 feet. From here it was only one and a half hours to the crash site. Emmerson and Murphy were investigating the point of impact on the cliff by climbing a crack from below they were roped and the route seemed moderately difficult. The Nose section of the plane was hanging by cables and the aircraft guns were impaled in the crack like pins. It must have been a scary experience as there were several tons of aircraft hanging from this. It was decided to leave things be and future snow may add to the weight and in time bring it all crashing down. Six of the team stayed on and assisted the US Investigation Team while the rest flew back to Cyprus. The events of the next few days must have been harrowing for all concerned but as always the job was done. From this date the Cyprus Team held annual expeditions in Turkey and did many climbs in the area over the years gaining vital area knowledge and new skills. They mapped many areas and still to this day have English names in the Taurus mountains.
Mountain Rescue in Cyprus had dealt with two tragic air crashes that had changed the team for good, huge lessons were learned and the team training improved. This was a very important part of RAF Mountain Rescue History. Those involved should be very proud of their efforts.