This Sunday I am re – visiting Beinn Eighe with one of the crew relatives of Fg Off R Strong to the small memorial that is on the propeller on the screes below the huge Triple Buttress.
It will be a special day as always as I am also meeting Joss Goslings daughter Heather and her husband up to the crash site. Her Dad Joss was in the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team in 1951 and was involved on the huge call – out that went on for several months till all the crew could be recovered due to the heavy snow. Joss is 88 tomorrow so we wish him a happy birthday.
There is plenty of wreckage still about and with the huge buttress above it is an poignant place
There is wreckage everywhere the gully above is known as fuselage gully and has a propeller jammed in it.
I hope the weather holds and Geoff gets to the site in reasonable weather.
“Great cliffs sculptured by time and nature.
Wreckage, glinting in the sun.
This is a wonderful poignant place.
Only too those who look and see.
How mighty is this corrie?
This Torridon giant Beinn Eighe”
On the 13th March 1951 at 1804hrs, Lancaster TX264 call sign ‘D’ Dog of 120 Squadron, converted for reconnaissance purposes, took off from RAF Kinloss, a ‘fog free’ climate of the Moray Coast between Lossiemouth and Nairn. The pilot was Flt Lt Harry Reid DFC, 24 years of age, a total crew of eight with a Second Pilot, Navigator, Flight Engineer and four signallers. It was a ‘Navigational Exercise’ via Cape Wrath, the very name a ‘mingled feeling of anger and disdain’ this being the extreme north-west point of the Scottish mainland and named after the Viking word ’hvraf’ meaning a turning point where the Vikings turned south to the Hebrides in the ninth century. The cape is isolated and its heathland untamed. Around midnight the aircrew flew over the Lighthouse.The last position, sent by radio was at 0127hrs 60 miles north of the Cape, this was the very last message from the aircraft.
At 0200hrs a boy living in Torridon, on the east end of Upper Loch Torridon, looking through his bedroom window saw a red flash in the distance, but didn’t think any more about it until he saw the headlines in a Newspaper, ‘Missing Plane Sought’ and this was two days after the aircraft went missing. He mentioned it to the local Postmaster who immediately contacted RAF Kinloss. Similar reports had been received. An Airspeed Oxford was sent to search which concentrated on Beinn Eighe. The wreck of the Lancaster was sighted on the 16th March.
“Wreckage, glinting in the sun.
This is a wonderful poignant place.”
On the 17th March the Kinloss RAF Rescue Team arrived in the area and on the 18th approached Beinn Eighe from the North and into Coire Mhic Fhearchair from Loch Maree. Wreckage from the Lancaster was found after arriving at the foot of the Triple Buttresses and lying in the ‘corrie’. A ‘corrie’ is a semi-circular hollow or a circular space in a mountain side. This particular wreckage had fallen, the bulk of the aircraft being much higher with the crew inside. At the foot of the Western Buttress were the port wing, undercarriage, two engines and various cowlings. On the following day the starboard wing and some other parts had been blown down by the strong winds, but still no fuselage.
The next day another party managed to climb higher and spotted the fuselage, burnt out, but couldn’t reach it. Further attempts were abandoned for the time being. It took a few months to recover the crew. The team had simple gear and limited training this was 1951 and even today with all our modern gear this place in winter is only for the experienced winter mountaineer any way off the mountain when snow covered takes care.
|THE CREW:- OF THE LANCASTER
Flt Lt H S Reid
|SECOND PILOT||Sgt R Clucas|
|NAVIGATOR||Fg Off R Strong|
|SIGNALLER||Flt Lt P Tennison|
|FLIGHT ENGINEER||Flt Sgt G Farquhar|
|SIGNALLERS||Flt Sgt J Naismith. Sgt W D Beck Sgt J W Bell.|