Remembrance Day thoughts. Hill visits to plane crashes. The Lancaster on Beinn Eighe, the Anson on Assynt and the Wellington Crash on An Lurg.

The Poppy badge worn with pride and with thoughts of friends who are no longer with us. This one is with the badge of the RAF Mountain Rescue and is very special to me.

Many will know that I visit some of the Aircraft crash sites in Scotland Mountains whenever I can and last year 2019 I had been to a few. I always visit the Beinn Eighe Crash on the Triple Buttress with a relative. I am not for memorials in the hills but these young folk who died here were fighting for our freedom and sadly they remain forgotten often until this special day.

I try to pay my respects when I can. The solitude of the mountains the twisted metal of an aircraft crash is a sobering thought. It makes one stop and think in a world that today seems to have gone mad.

Beinn Eighe crash

they over the Torridon mountains, which are above 3000 feet. All eight airmen were almost certainly killed in the impact with the mountain, they were:

Pilot – F/Lt Harry Smith Reid DFC RAF (159582), aged 29, of Aberdeen. Buried Groves Cemetery, Aberdeen. 

Co-Pilot – Sgt Ralph Clucas RAF (3044661), aged 23, of Liverpool. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

Nav – F/Lt Robert Strong RAF (203610), aged 27, of Billesley, Warwickshire. Buried Bramwood End Cemetery, Birmingham. 

Air Sig – F/Lt Peter Tennison RAF (176527), aged 26, of Goole, Yorkshire. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray. 

Air Sig – F/Sgt James Naismith RAF (575007), aged 28, of Glasgow. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

Air Sig – Sgt Wilfred Davie Beck RAF (3504773), aged 19, of Ealing, London. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

Air Sig – Sgt James Warren Bell RAF (1822719), aged 25, of Lockerbie, Dumphrieshire. Buried Kinloss Abbey, Moray.

F Eng – F/Sgt George Farquhar RAF (632957), aged 29, of Rathven, Banffshire. Buried Buckie Cemetery, Banff.

This is now an annual trip and Geoff a nephew of the crew makes it every year and as long as I can I will be there to.

In the past we went with Heather and her brothers. Her father Joss Gosling was on the call out with RAF Kinloss MRT as very young man. It was a always a moving day for all. Joss is sadly gone but this placed so affected him all his life.

At the Beinn Eighe crash with the new memorial Joss family visit,
The Anson crash site where the crew are buried on site !

I also visited the Anson Crash near Inchnadampth up past Ullapool with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Scott one of their team to check the new Memorial. The CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks after over 30000 war graves in Scotland). I was guiding Scott to the scene, he was great company another special place to me up in Assynt.

Pilot – F/O James Henry Steyn DFC RAF (42275), aged 23, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. 

Observer – P/O William Edward Drew RAF (45356), aged 28, of Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire.

Observer (U/T) – Sgt Charles McPherson Mitchell RAFVR (992122), aged 31, of Ballater, Aberdeenshire.

Wireless Operator – F/Sgt Thomas Brendon Kenny RAF (551620), aged 20. of Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt Jack Emery RAFVR (976995), aged 20, of Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt Harold Arthur Tompsett RAFVR (931417), aged 20, of Croydon, Surrey.

This was my 11 visit to the site since 2013 and I have over 3300 miles travel on the 11 trips to get the new Memorial in place. To me it was so worth every mile and every penny. Its a fair walk in over 2 hours on some rough ground but what a place to be and the locally know “aeroplane flats” are a wild place and one that always makes me feel that this is a special site

I prefer to pay my respects away from the crowds this is even more important today during Covid but always in my thoughts are to those who gave so much and the families who still mourn over 70 years later.

Many thanks to all those who helped in these projects it took some time but it in my mind was worth it.

Also thanks to all that helped me on my ventures into these places, I have met so many folk from this interest and one of the most moving was taking the 70 year son who was born 6 weeks after his father’s death in a Wellington Crash on An Lurg near Bynack Mor in the Cairngorms it was a special day. I hope to visit this site in winter this year, all being  well.

An Lurg crash site

Why do I visit, these are some of the reasons why?

Pilot – P/O Philip Lionel Bennett Paterson RAFVR (175168), aged 23, of Walkden, Lancashire. Buried Elgin New Cemetery, Morayshire (H/South Div/156).

(“Flight Engineer”)/Navigator – Sgt James Michael Downey RAFVR (1800550), aged 21, of Greenwich, London. Buried Leytonstone Cemetery.

Navigator – Sgt Harold Tudhunter RAFVR (1523611), aged 22, of Whitehaven. Buried Whithaven Cemetery, Cumbria (5/P/10).

(Bomb Aimer?)/Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – Sgt Stephen Fraser RAFVR (1569101), aged 21, of Auldearn, Nairnshire. Buried Lossiemouth Burial Ground, Morayshire (1261).

Wireless Operator / Air Gunner – P/O Denis Henderson Rankin RAFVR (175934), aged 24, of Belfast. Buried Carnmoney Cemetery East, Belfast.

Air Gunner – Sgt Robert Arthur George Bailey RAFVR (3006845), aged 19, of Bungay. Buried Bungay Cemetery, Suffolk.

There is a lot more information on these crash sites on my blog, please be aware these are sacred places and should be treated as such.

So if your on the hills remember those who gave so much ! Treat them with the respect they are due.

Lest we forget.

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 and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Remembrance Day thoughts. Hill visits to plane crashes. The Lancaster on Beinn Eighe, the Anson on Assynt and the Wellington Crash on An Lurg.

  1. Phil Paterson says:

    Thanks, Heavy, for your Remembrance Sunday thoughts on my father’s aircrash on An Lurg in 1944 and thanks again for taking me and my two son’s to pay our respects at the site in 2015.
    Keep up the good work!
    Phil Paterson

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim higgins says:


    Across this field departed souls
    void of life void of colour
    My spirit moves above this earth as flesh departs
    Only to observe the mortal terminate the sacrifice the valour
    Not speaking, weeping, walking only moving
    As if in flight the flames they cannot harm me
    The battle noise is muffled silent
    But hark a distant voice I comprehend I see
    But not with eyes that view the slaughter
    Not with eyes that witness death
    Not with human understanding
    The words I hear from Holy breath
    For now revealed I see before me
    Not a field of blood and clay
    But flowers of the field adorning
    What God has given us this day
    What time is left for me to hear my epitaph
    What fruit my seed has bore
    What good my fleeting time with mortals
    For what I reap I sew no more
    So lo’ the sun now sinks below the mountains
    The leaves they fall beneath the tree
    And to my final resting place I go
    My Lord prepares a place for me

    Jim Higgins © 2014

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrew Birkby says:

    Great piece Heavy, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully said. A really nice tribute to those who gave their all.

    Liked by 1 person

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