Long Gone Mountain Rescue Teams ? HMS Fulmar (Lossiemouth) And a sad day in winter 1954.

When I joined the RAF Kinloss we met a few and I am sure a some of the climbers from the Navy at HMS Fulmar ( Prestwick) it closed in 1972 . It had an MRT which was a sub unit of RAF Kinloss MRT. HMS Condor, Arbroath was a sub unit of RAF Leuchars MRT at that time. Both these teams were very useful because they could increase numbers on a search significantly. They also produced some excellent climbers. We all worked very well together hill parties were always a mix of RAF and Royal Navy.

I wonder if anyone has any photos of that era !

Of Course RAF Lossiemouth is now the home of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team that moved when RAF Kinloss closed a few years ago in March 2016.

I wonder if this accident when 5 Naval climbers from Fulmar died in an accident on Ben Nevis in winter 1954?

The top of Ben Nevis

On the 19 Dec 1954 over 60 years ago Eleven Royal Naval personnel from Royal Naval Air Station Fulmar (Lossiemouth) left to climb Ben Nevis  via Coire Leis. They had stayed overnight and left the CIC hut where they were staying below the great cliffs off Nevis, the party was made up of 8 men and three girls from the Women’s Royal Naval Service. They left the hut finding the weather poor and ascended from Coire Leis at 0900 and reached the summit of Ben Nevis at 1300. They left the summit after a 15 minute break; the conditions were very hard snow (neve’ and poor visibility.) The summit plateau is a tricky place to navigate and in winter 1954 the path would be covered with snow. They had intended to retrace their steps back down to the Carn Mor Dearg Arete.

On the descent they had a navigation error about 200 yards from the summit. This error lead them to the cliffs between North East Buttress and the Arete (Brenva Face) They were not together there was now a party of six ahead and the leader he led them away from the cliffs the others tried to catch up. One of the party behind the leader started glissading, lost control, lost his axe and fell; another member ran after him kicking steps and he lost control and also fell followed by 3 others from the party. In total 5 vanished over the huge cliff and out of sight.

The Party Leader roped to edge and could see nothing, they then they descended to the Corrie Leis and found all 5 dead below the huge Brenva Face. They had fallen over 1000 feet, what a tragedy and an awful sight. They went for help and it would be a long walk there were no mobile phones in these days. They went to Fort William and raised the alarm with the local Police. The Police called RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team and the team arrived. At first light 23 members of RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, 8 Local Police/ mountaineering Club and 20 naval personnel assisted in recovery. It must have been a long recovery and it took 10 hours in very poor weather, drifting snow, gales to recover casualties.

A tragic tale .

Comments welcome.

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.
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