Lockerbie Anniversary always a sad time for me and many others.

Every year this Anniversary is a very hard time for me as I was heavily involved in the Lockerbie Disaster on 21 December 1988. Most years now there is an act of terrorism that reminds me of the horror of that dark night and the mind chases the demons at times.  I will travel past Lockerbie on my travels today and it is always hard to put what happend to the back of my mind. I have had help from family and friends moved on since these sad days and hopefully manages to live with the occasional flashbacks and memories. I cannot thank those enough who contact me on this day many who were a huge part of the recovery. Most were and still are unknown to many of us but we all have a common bond of where we were on the night in 1988. You are not alone and I am thinking of you all those involved from Scottish Mountain Rescue, SARDA and the many other agencies involved.

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may your God hold you in the palm of his hand. ”

Always remember “We did our best”

This is one of the emails I got:

“The selfless actions of all those MR personnel, the emergency services and the others who were involved can never be forgotten. I know so well of the PTSD that so many suffered, amazing people who were acting in the most humanitarian of ways, searching for and recovering those who had died and consoling and caring for those who survived. PTSD should not stigmatise but epitomise the selfless actions of those who put themselves in the face of adversity to rescue others. I have a much admired and close relative who did attend the scene at Lockerbie and his description of what he saw carries with me as a testament to the deep trauma that so many witnessed.

The Lockerbie Memorial.

The Lockerbie Memorial.

Lockerbie should always remain more than just an historical event, the story must always be told in memory of those like Taff Tonner ( Ex RAF Team Leader) who are no longer with us and the amazing people that it has defined, whose acquired wisdom should be shared with generations in perpetuity. The nightmare that faced you on this day 24 years ago has undoubtedly caused you great heartache and the effects on those close to us can be devasting, however it is the fact that you were there, that you did your best far beyond the call of duty, that you came through the dark times and continued to put the needs of others before your own and save lives. It has made you who you are today and shaped the experience you have gained and above all shared with so many.


I would hope that Lockerbie has also taught us many things; about compassion for those affected, about how to manage major incidents, about rebuilding damaged communities and about solidarity and humanity. It was the outcomes from Lockerbie that encouraged me to get more involved in major incident management, SAR, community resilience and recovery. I was fortunate to learn from a number of people involved in Lockerbie and used this to help me manage major incidents in the following years. I hope too that over the years  I have been able to do my bit to ensure that we can teach the skills needed at such incidents, that volunteer responders act professionally and are recognised for their efforts and that they have the right equipment to do the job. All those negotiations back in 2002/3 with the Scottish Government did eventually ensure that every member of an MR team had a personal radio and that across the UK there was a national SAR radio infrastructure, lacking at the time of Lockerbie.


So, although we must never forget; we must also learn, teach others and look beyond the nightmare to create a better world, where everyone gets they help they need, where we value selfless and unconditional actions, where we support those who have given their best and suffer as a result, and to ensure that we continue to promote & develop SAR in the UK for the future.”

Lockerbie – 22/12/1988

That night hell came from above

When fuel and fire filled the air

All died and that landed there.

It was and is a 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 life is 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 people had to die?


My thoughts are with you all, may you all find  peace.

Heavy 21/12/15

On todays Facebook – Thanks

“Thoughts with you today (and the many other MR troops, and agencies) who attended the most horrific callous act of terrorism seen on our shores. From xmas parties in the MRT section to a burning village in the Borders. Words cannot describe the scene that met the guys when they stepped off the chopper/arrived on scene. Massive respect. “Whensoever”.

“Heavy, I read your report in the 1988 team diary just before I finished as the Team Leader. You finished the narrative with ” Words can’t describe what it was really like”. Unimaginable I should think and thankfully something that none of us will ever have to experience. See you in the hills soon no doubt. ”


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, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Poems, PTSD. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Lockerbie Anniversary always a sad time for me and many others.

  1. ptsd17 says:

    Stay safe Heavy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gasdoc2857 says:

    Take care David .

    Be nice to yourself today of all days


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