Ben Loyal – 764 metres and an epic rescue after a plane crash of a Handley Page Hampden.

My first impression of Ben Loyal many years ago sometimes called the “Queen of Scotland” was so impressive. It was a Misty day and the hill emerged as the hill cleared. You can see this mountain from a long way it looks surreal. This was nearly 50 years ago and still when I see it it brings back some classic days.

Ben Loyal – Ben Loyal is a wonderful mountain just south of the Kyle of Tongue. It well merits the long drive north to reach it. ( Walk Highlands ) Although it is also possible to ascend Ben Loyal from the east side above the A836, this completely lacks the drama of the classic route from the north.

Climbing and Crag features

The best of the climbing potential is to be found on the summit tors of Sgor a’ Bhatain, An Caisteal, and Sgor Chaonasaid, and also on the western cliffs of Sgor a’ Chleirich. Also worth noting is the massive boulder field by the side of Loch Fhionnaich which would seem to have endless interest and potential for the boulderer. The rock type is syenite, this is a form of granite which has no quartz present.

Ben Loyal 

This classic mountain is known as the Queen of Scottish mountains by many. It is an isolated mountain of 764 m in Sutherland, the north-western tip of the Scottish Highlands. It is a Corbett located south of the Kyle of Tongue and offers good views of the Kyle, Loch Loyal to the east, and Ben Hope to the west. Ben Loyal has the remains of an Hampden aircraft that crashed on the mountain in 1943. Grid Ref NC 583498 Sgor Chaonasaid at 1600 feet.

Handley Page Hampden

The aircraft is a Handley Page Hampden, Serial No: P2118 Unit Codes: Z9-D Squadron: 519sqn Crash Date: 25.08.43 Based: Wick Crew:

Pilot; Flt Lt H. Puplett DFC,

Navigator: F/O G. Richie,

Radio Operator/Air Gunner:F/O C. Faulks

Air Gunner:Sgt T Hudson-Bell

Ben Loyal

F/O Faulks was the only survivor when the aircraft flew into the side of Sgor Chaonasaid, the highest point in the Ben Loyal range. The aircraft was returning to Wick from an aborted search for missing Hampden P5334 when it flew into the hillside in a thunderstorm just before midnight on 25th August 1943. 

The rescue party arrived Ribigill a large farm house between Tongue and Ben Loyal, the rescue party were led by shepherd Mr E Campbell and Dr F Y McHendrick. The survivor was strapped to a piece of aircraft wreckage and carried him down from the mountain. after a long trip by horse and cart he was taken by RAF ambulance to Golspie’s Lawson County Hospital about forty miles away. He arrived there some 15 hours after the crash and was found to have very serious injuries including a broken right leg, a smashed up left foot and severe facial injuries and was initially not expected to live. Having spent some 18 months in hospital he rejoined his squadron taking up a ground-based role but was keen to be in the air again. He flew again before the War ended.

Ben Loyal

Shepherd Eric Campbell and Dr Fowler Yates McKendrick M.B. Ch.B were both awarded the British Empire Medal for their rescue attempt on that night (Gazetted 3rd December 1943. In all they made six trips up and down to the aircraft that night, recovering the injured man and the bodies of his comrades. Dr McHendrick was also praised for his efforts in keeping F/O Faulks alive as they removed him to safety.

The tale and others is well told in the Book Down in The Highland’s – Dave Earl & Peter Donaldson. DOWN IN THE HIGHLANDS 2 – Military Aircraft Accidents in Caithness,Sutherland & Ross & Cromarty 1943-1948

A great source of information.

That is a tale few know about ? What a film it would make.

Please treat these crash site with respect they are places where folk died and should be treated respectfully.

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, Books, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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