Old photo of the early days of MRT? Where is it ?

I was asked if anyone had a clue what team this photo was off?

An RAF Mountain Rescue Team in the Highlands, 1950s. Unfortunately, the catalogue entry for this photograph doesn’t record if this was a drill or an actual rescue.

[Jimmy Nairn Collection, Highland Photographic Archive]

A reply from Ray Sefton ex RAF MRT Teamleader and member since the 50,s

“Not sure which RAF team. However, they way they are dressed it comes from
an era where there were no civilian teams. The ambulance is a civilian
vehicle and is like the ambulances we frequently used at Fort William and
Glencoe, so could be KMRT. (RAF Kinloss MRT) I have just expanded the photo and it looks like
railway lines the other side of the troops. That would mean the stretcher
has been taken off the Bogie at the British Aluminium works at Fort William.

In addition, the troops look to be wearing Korean Suits, which was the
anorak of 1950s. The troop with the ropes is also carrying a standard issue
small pack of that period.

Hope this helps.



The Ben Nevis Bogie

The Bogie was part of a narrow gauge railway that ran between Loch Laggan, Loch Treig and the British Aluminium Works in Fort William.

In the 1950s, when the hills were not busy, the RAF had the only Mountain Rescue Teams in Scotland.  The RAF would not allow helicopters to be used on civilian mountain rescues.  We did some very long carry outs, made more difficult if there was more than one casualty.

In Fort William there was a bonus because we were often helped by Lochaber. Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland (JMCS) and sometimes Hamish MacInnes and his friends.  We most times had a policeman join us, often in his uniform.  However, when the ground got too difficult the team leader would send him down.

In these days there was no Torlundy track.  The walk in to the North Face or the CIC Hut started from the Distillery.  Frequently we were called out from the Jacobite Pub just before the 9pm closing time.  When a torch went out it sometimes meant that the troop was throwing up.

The Bogie was always positioned where the railway crossed the Allt a’ Mhuilinn.  It could only be used if a local trained Policeman was available to operate the bogie.  The stretcher was loaded and as many troops as possible jumped on, to save a walk.  On the bends occasionally some troops would fall off, but fortunately were never injured.  Health and Safety was not a problem.

In the early 1960s the RAF changed its policy on the use of helicopters in civilian mountain rescues and allowed there use.  The railway was dismantled a long time ago. 

The Bogie Ray Sefton collection

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 Gear, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Old photo of the early days of MRT? Where is it ?

  1. Lorna M says:

    Hi Heavy
    You can probably see from this pic that the scree runs in the two photos look like they coincide. Which would add weight to it being that Fort William location

    Liked by 1 person

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