Colonsay – a visit this week and in 1978 Sept – A Dutch military Atlantic aircraft Crash. A night in a cave and a tale like! Whisky Galore”


I had previously been in Colonsay in 1978. It was for a French military Atlantic aircraft that had ditched on the sea. It was part of a big NATO exercise at the time.

Atlantic aircraft

14 September 1978 – A Dutch surveillance Breguet crashed in the Iries sea west of Scotland after the explosion of the right RollsRoyce engine

Everyone was okay but we were asked to search the coast for “sensitive stuff” It was one of these. Call outs I will never forget. I love the Islands so many have been fleeting visits so I am trying to spend a bit more time on them.

From today’s advice “Colonsay is the jewel of the Hebrides, is about 10 miles long and 2 miles wide with 135 friendly inhabitants, and little more than 2 hours from Oban by our modern and very comfortable ferry. Our outstanding natural scenery is rivalled only by the wealth and diversity of our flora and fauna, and our archaeological sites are of international importance. Local activities include agriculture, oyster-farming, arts, crafts, honey production, a brewery, accommodation for visitors, lobster-fishing, publishing and even a substantial bird sanctuary. The island plays host to a variety of festivals throughout the year celebrating our music, culture, literature and natural assets. Please explore and enjoy our community website – and, when you get an opportunity, come and join us in Colonsay.”

1978 Sept 17 – Isle of Colonsay and Oransay A / Dutch Military Atlantic aircraft crashed in the sea and stayed afloat for a while just off the Islands. Some of the wreckage washed ashore and all the crew survived. When we arrived by Wessex helicopter we had no communications and searched most of the day and I sure we lived in a Cave one night and much of the wreckage washed ashore vanished in true Island Fashion. It was very like the film “Whisky Galore” It was very difficult trying to get some of the sensitive items from the locals! They had a few dinghies, life jackets and other bits and pieces! A bit of barter and trading was called for was called for? We just made the pub it shut at 2200 then but managed a few beers but no food? I wonder if anyone has any photos.

From my pal Nick Sharpe a Guide in Canada “RAF Leuchars Mountain Rescue Team also deployed to the west coast of Jura and did the same thing. “Spent a night in a huge cave sleeping on a soft bed of goat droppings!

This weekend I am visiting Colonsay again we had a superb ferry from Oban on a lovely day. The drive down was incredible and my friend Kalie picked me up from Onich. The hills were full of snow especially Ben Nevis.The drive to Oban was magical the sea and Ardgour looking superb.

Oban was busy yet the road was quiet and the new ferry terminal so clean and tidy. Yet parking near the ferry can be difficult. The ferry was immaculate and the 2 hour journey seeing Mull on a stunning evening was good. We arrived on time and our accommodation is right by the Hotel. We had a meal then headed to Kiloran beach it was amazing.

We hoped to see a sunset and we were not let down. It was incredible the beach looked red in the setting sun there was no one there and Islay the Collie was in her element.

The beach

It was so warm and lovely to be here we are so lucky to be here for a few days.


Comment Don Shanks – “If I remember right we were shocked that we didn,t get a lock-in…however we managed to cadge a lift back to our billet in a cowshed on the back of a council lorry..happy days”

Info – The Scottish Islands – Hamish Haswell – Smith.

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, Articles, Books, Friends, Islands, Mountain rescue, Recomended books and Guides, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Colonsay – a visit this week and in 1978 Sept – A Dutch military Atlantic aircraft Crash. A night in a cave and a tale like! Whisky Galore”

  1. I found a photo of the Leuchars Jura cave. How can I get it to you?

    Liked by 1 person

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