Its a Dogs Life – a bit more about Teallach – by popular request!

I cannot thank you all enough for the great comments on Teallach my Dog tales on the Blog, it became a bit of longer story than I thought but I still missed so many other stories.  I enjoyed writing it and appreciate  your thoughts. Once I get my operations out of the way the book will be number one for me. I was let down by a well known publisher a while ago but will relook at it after I recover. Please read this a final installment and worth sharing?

A Dogs Life

I read with interest a letter in a mountaineering magazine, asking if any dogs have done their Munros and thought it was time to share a small part of a special dogs mountaineering life.  My dog Teallach, (the softest long-haired Alsatian you could ever meet) finished his Munros in 1985 and he had only twelve left for his second time around, when he unfortunately passed away.  I am sure Hamish Brown’s dog “Keltie” completed his before Teallach, but Teallach was possibly the second dog to do the complete round and would have been an early “Dog Munroist”.

1989 Teallach Seaking Crash (2)

The most difficult Munros were on Skye, where had a great two days traverse.  I have some great photos of him on the Inaccessible Pinnacle. As my rock-climbing ability is limited, getting to the very summit with Teallach, made it a major operation.  However, with the addition of a few extra abseils and help from more talented rock climbing friends, we succeeded.  His route finding ability was exceptional, usually vanishing around a ledge, to arrive before us above the difficulties.

1987 teallach stretcher lower pass of drumochter

Teallach made several outstanding walks including two complete traverses of Scotland, a North to South and an East to West, one hundred and forty five Munros in seven weeks – very hard on the paws!  His apprenticeship was spent in Wales where he completed the fourteen Peaks when still just a pup. He did this hill route on many occasions, learning his basic skills on many of the Welsh classics, besides doing several winter routes here and in the Lakes. During my exile in North Wales, the lesser hills proved good training for Scotland and every six weeks or so we would take a trip to the big hills in the North, this being where he excelled.  I have been a member of RAF Mountain Rescue Teams at Kinloss and Leuchars and many days were spent on big hill days with the young team members. Teallach’s logbook included, the Skye Ridge in two days. Eleven full traverses of the South Clunnie (including The Saddle), six complete traverses of the North Clunnie, nine full Traverses of the Mamores, seven full traverses of the Fannichs, three ascents of the Shenavall Six and three ascents of the Affric Munros. In addition, he completed “The Tranter Traverses” in Kintail and Lochaber and was a regular user of the CIC hut, until he was banned by the members.

 

Last Munro

Last Munro

He was a very accomplished climber on rock and ice and in the end, had to be tied up as he was soloing way beyond my ability to rescue him. Regularly he would meet us at the bottom of the Cioch Slab in Skye, finding his way up from the Sgumain Stone Chute and across Eastern Gully with ease. On one occasion on the Cioch Nose in Applecross, we left him attached to the rucksacks at the bottom of the route.  On returning to our kit and having attempted to flee the midges, we found him in the Loch over 2 km away, complete with our rucksacks still tied to his collar.  He was a regular at Glenmore Lodge, before it was in vogue, until he was banned for annoying too many of the instructors -assessing in the Northern Corries at the time. After hearing my shouts whilst climbing, and thinking I was calling to him for help, many a Winter Leader’s assessment was disturbed by Teallach trying to find his way up a Grade II gully, – for this I now sincerely apologise to the principal. The Lodge even sent a “formal letter” addressed to the MRT at RAF Kinloss, complaining of his abysmal rope work!

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Though not a rescue dog, he was superb on the hill and could sniff out a cornice in any weather.  His area knowledge was exceptional and he never used a map or compass, always finding the summit and leaving his mark on it!  He had 2 big falls.  The first one was on Creag Meaghaidh where he went a thousand feet in a whiteout. He was out in front as usual and at the overconfident stage in his mountaineering career. After I descended into the Coire expecting to find him in a bad way, I found him okay, a bit shaken and by now very “Cornice aware”. On the second occasion, I left him below Black Spout on Lochnagar.  After having an epic on Black Spout Buttress, I was faced with getting off the hill in poor weather, late on a wild winters night. The only way off was over the Cornice down Black Spout Gully. Two following climbers brought the Cornice down on top of us; we fell six hundred feet. Teallach arrived on scene and began digging us out, even though the avalanche had hit him as well.  We eventually got back in the wee small hours, battered and bruised.

1986 teallach end of day

In those days, snow-holeing was fashionable.  One night on the Cairngorm Plateau after the usual few drams, we all drifted back to our own holes. Just as we were falling asleep, I heard a noise outside and thinking that it was a raid on our whisky store, sent Teallach out to chase them off. Even though Teallach was a big softy, in the dark and around the snow hole, he must have looked fearsome.  Imagine my consternation the following morning, when I went out and found two climbers curled up and shivering. They had left their sacks below Hells Lum and could not find them.  Having seen our light they thought they were safe, only to be met by a huge dog, who would not let them in the snow hole.  I brought them in, gave them a brew and walked them off in the morning, meeting Cairngorm MRT, who were coming to look for our “lost” friends. (Another confession)

 

I rarely saw him tired, only once whilst completing the Big Three in Torridon, (Beinn Eighe, Liathach and Ben Alligin) the heat got to him and he refused to add Beinn Dearg to the day, heading off down the Glen on his own to the vehicle.  As he got older like us all, aging began to take its toll.  Problems with his hips and back became chronic, but he still loved every minute on the hill.  On rescues he was a great asset and was always well behaved.  He knew when we had a fatality to deal with, or when the situation was serious and kept out of the way.  He found a few casualties in his time and was a warm bivouac partner on many rescues.

 

After a hill-day and back in the bothy, he would always find the new lad’s sleeping bag and make himself comfortable, in their bag and fast asleep. Few were brave enough to move the huge Alsatian and many a novice had a cold night curled up on the floor (good training for the Greater Ranges).  As he got older he would enjoy walking up to the crag and watching our epics on the classics routes, occasionally pinching any food that was left in open rucksacks. Even after a long climbing day he would still be there after 12 hours, waiting for you to come down.  He would even know where the descent gully was and meet you.  Later on he developed a love for Sea Stacks and would enjoy the day whilst we climbed on Am Buaichile or Storr, swimming around the stack, watching what was going on. Every hill loch would involve a swim whatever the weather or season.

 

Each Friday night he would patiently wait by the Land Rover ready to go out on the hill, even when his health was failing. He would get upset at not being able to go out at weekends and still sit in the wagon waiting.  In the Bothies and after a long hill day, he would crawl next to the fire and once burst into flames in The Ossian Youth Hostel after lying too near the stove.

 

Teallach was an exceptional dog, well behaved on the hill, no problem with sheep or any of the wild life and most of all a great companion. The ultimate Party Leader, always looking after his party, regularly rounding up any stragglers. He was not a just a Munro bagger but an all round “Scottish Mountaineer”. He used to be able to jump and climb deer fences when in his prime. Unfortunately he nearly hung himself when his karabiner caught in the top wire, much to the consternation of my 5 year old stepson who was very worried. I managed to sort it out and Teallach became very aware that his screw gate karabiner should be locked closed at all times!

He always wore a screw gate karabiner round his collar and had one terrible habit when he was thirsty, in the middle of the night.  He would head for the toilet for a drink. The noise of the karabiner on the toilet bowl woke everyone.  Even though he died back in 1992, I sorely miss him, what a friend he was, what a life he had.

 

This article was published in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal August 2005

 

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Avalanche info, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., SMC/ sMT, Views Mountaineering | Leave a comment

Book review: ‘Moonwalker – Adventures of a Midnight Mountaineer’ by Alan Rowan

Originally posted on The Hazel Tree:

Rainbow skies, Beinn a'Chochuill early December morning“The mountains… were just black silhouettes on the skyline ahead, with the sky a deep shade of purple with pink and yellow patches swirling through.  The little lochan was like a miniature version of the sky, the reflection from above providing the only light in a seemingly endless plateau of darkness.”

Moonwalker coverScottish mountains over 3,000 feet in height are known as Munros, after the late Victorian climber Sir Hugh Munro, who first catalogued and climbed them.

There are currently just over 5,500 people who have climbed all the Munros, and their names are registered with the Scottish Mountaineering Club, which allocates each climber their own unique number.  Of these, Alan Rowan is no. 2,422 – but what sets his record apart is that he has climbed many of these mountains at night.

I have been following Alan on Twitter for a while, admiring his magnificent photos of sunlight gleaming on silvery tarns…

View original 531 more words

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Dog Tales, from the back of a land rover, Helicopter, Hercules – The end.

1987 teallach cummingston

I was getting old by now I was over 10 and as they say had some “paper round” my body was as one would expect beginning to show my age. I was not allowed to jump over fences any more or jump out of the 4 tonner.  I still managed big days though but was very sore at the end of a day. I began to sleep even more not easy as home with Stephen and the cat on my case but I saw a lot more of them. The team had a plane crash just of the Station a Canberra aircraft crashed killing one of the crew but the team were there to help get the other aircrew out with their spinal boards. Heavy was running the Call outs and was on Control most of the time and I stayed with him. Meeting more God’s of Mountain Rescue. The Team had two Search Dogs now and we made friends, they even had a case made for them to travel in the land rovers!

1990 Teallach and Clova at Hopeman

Heavy went away for a long period to the Himalayas and for the first time I stayed at home and was looked after by the family and was I looked after very well, he was away for 7 weeks. When he came back I went out and had a hard winter, the cold really hit me, my joints were very stiff. We had lots of visits to the men in white coats, lots of pills and potions but you cannot stop aging. I loved our walks with the kids, swimming was great for me and I would be in the sea every day not matter what the weather and still jumping off the rocks into the sea the kids loved it. We often went to Cummingston  our local sea cliff and I loved the summer and the sun whilst the kids and team climbed.

These are boring and I used to walk out when they went on to long!

These are boring and I used to walk out when they went on to long!

Gradually I got worse and as happens my back legs started to fail, I could not get up easy, I was in pain but never showed it. Heavy had to put me in the car and weekends were spent with the cook  at Base Camp but it was great to be with the troops. My last hill was the local Ben Rinnes with the kids and after that it got a lot worse with my arthritis really affecting me.  In the end going to the tollet was not easy and getting up after it was worse, I just lay about and slept a lot more, the pain was worse and I even growled a bit when Heavy lifted me, but it was the pain that made me do it.

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My life got pretty bad and there was little to be done, the man in the white coat said so. Heavy did not tell anyone but he did the right thing and we had a great wander down to Cummingston our local sea cliff he carried me down the path to the sea. After that we went to the vets and I had one of the few cuddles from him and then slept dreaming about the hills and all my friends and the kids. I was a proud dog but had lost my dignity, in great pain and it was definitely the correct thing to do and I was asleep in seconds.

The last thing I saw was Heavy’s tears and all and he had to go tell Vicky, Yvette,  Steven yet and the team.

What a dog, what a life thanks Teallach.

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Family, Friends, Mountain rescue | 10 Comments

Dog Tales from the back of a Land rover helicopter – Early Kinloss days – 3 days on the Ben and the Harris Shackelton Crash.

Late 1989 Call out in the Cairngorms by now a familiar place.

Late 1989 Call out in the Cairngorms by now a familiar place.

Now it was not till late October 1989 that we moved to RAF Kinloss in Morayshire and it was hard leaving the troops at Leuchars. Heavy was taking over as the Mountain Rescue Team Leader of the Kinloss Team, it was the job he wanted. We had a great farewell party at the Kingshouse Hotel in Glencoe. Amazingly the lassies were invited to it so we had a real party. It was a special night in the Hotel with Big Ian Nicholson the mine host looking after us. While Heavy was in the Hotel I was camping outside with some of the troops but it was a great night. The helicopter popped in and nearly took the tents out, everyone was there even Hamish MacInnes popped in. After that it was a move to Kinloss in Morayshire. Now before in our moves  beforeit had been easy box stuff up and head off, now with the family it was so much more difficult. Old friends John and Mary helped and we had moved into a lovely rented house at Rafford till Heavy and Vicky found a house. I was in the last of 3 long journeys from Leuchars to Kinloss, all in the same day. it was snowing and very late when we left Leuchars for the last time and we had a full van and me and my mate Clova the cat in the same small space. It was mayhem as Clova escaped her box in the van and was driving me nuts in the back as she did. There was no room to move for me I was the last thing to leave Leuchars and for a moment thought they were leaving me.

1990 Shackelton Crash Harris

1990 Shackelton Crash Harris a terrible scene!

We soon all settled down at the new house at  Rafford and Heavy had a different Team at Kinloss to handle. There were many of the” Old and Bold” it took time but  I was happy watching the World go by outside the old section at RAF Kinloss. It was straight into winter when we arrived and Heavy ensuring things were done his way caused a few problems but he was looked after by “Man Mountain Dan” his Deputy. The call outs started straight away and s came thick and fast. It was hard winter was I getting older but still the troops dragged me out. Heavy would give me a break on the big searches and the odd day off. The troops wanted me as I was still a good navigator.  The Mountain Rescue section at RAF Kinloss was very old and had holes in the wall and it was even worse in the winter as the now came inside under the war built wooden huts.  It was like an old bothy but what character. We had a few great call – outs in this time. At times where we found several casualties and one a 15-year-old boy on the Ben a huge 3 day search was a great result. They  were asked if they could keep going the Rescue Teams were buzzing especially after  such a long search. We had been away for over a week on call –outs and Heavy asked the team if they would continue and of course they did. This caused lots of problems for the wives and partners who hardly saw their families during this period. I was on the hill exhausted like everyone when the young lad was found. The cheers  resounded round the Ben by everyone it was a special moment what a bunch.

The Basee Camp at Harris where we could relax.

The Basee Camp at Harris where we could relax.

Kinloss was a great place to be a slower pace with the Nimrod aircraft and most lunchtimes many of the team would have lunch in the MR section and plan their hill day. At the end of the winter on the 30 May a lovely day for weather at lunchtime the phone rang and it was our control that a plane had crashed. It was amazing within 15 minutes we were in a Sea King helicopter heading for the Isle of Harris the weather was magnificent and as we flew so fast it was really busy on the aircraft. Heavy was up front and on the way they had reports of a Shackelton Aircraft with 10 on board had crashed. It was the only bit of mist on the Island as we arrived. It was a mini hell, the safety beacons were all going off and all the crew were dead.  It was like a battlefield  again, I was used to it by now as was Heavy and the team.We were there for 4 days it was a sad time, we worked with the Investigation Board and  the team did crash guard as usual and the team worked so hard. The aircraft had come from the neighboring Station at Lossiemouth and the tragedy was very raw. The Kinloss team had been flown in by helicopter, Hercules and a small jet the rest drove the long way.  We flew back ahead of the aircraft bringing the 10 bodies to Lossiemouth and landed in our Hercules aircraft from there. It was my second time in a Hercules and the crew were a bit wary but I just hid under a seat before the crew could put me in a cage! My Mum Dreish ten years before had traveled in the same way to a call -out in Scotland I was now a veteran ! When we landed at RAF Lossiemouth we  drove through the station most were out to see their comrades returned but we received a few grateful thanks.

Leaving Harris to come home.

Leaving Harris to come home.

We arrived back to Kinloss and I was busy with the media and the reports, it had been a hard few days and a sad welcome to RAF Kinloss.

 

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Tales from the back of a Land rover Part 13 – The Sea King Crash and Al MacLeod RIP

Teallach at the Crash site on Creagh Meaghaidh with tent.

Teallach at the Crash site on Creagh Meaghaidh with tent.

1989 – We hoped for a quiet time in the team but there was no chance of that in winter. Straight after New Year we had a spate of Call –outs and then a near disaster when the Sea King crashed on the big Corrie on Creagh Meaghaidh. Amazingly no one was killed and the Team was heavily involved and we feared the worst at first. The helicopter was full of the “Old and Bold “from Lochaber MRT and as we flew in to the scene and could not believe that no one was hurt.  We also knew the aircrew and the film crew well that were on board it was a very personal call –out. After everyone was flown away I was on crash guard duties for a few days as both Kinloss and Leuchars MRT shared the crash guard duties. It had to be guarded at night as well so I was at the site for a few days. To see the big helicopter lying on its side was a big shock, but we still flew in and out with the team to replace the troops but not me. I was fed at the site and slept with the troops at the tent. We had a few visitors and then the Investigation Team arrived with the Crash and smash boys and we handed the site over to them. I was glad to get away after a few days.    I had proved my worth as the odd journalist and local climbers arrived for a look. They would see me and think I was a guard dog.

1989 Sea King crash Jan

In June there was a strange callout for a skier on Braeraich in June in the Cairngorms, who was killed in a big fall and a few weeks later Heavy’s great mate Al Macleod was killed whilst soling the North Face of the Matterhorn. The team was going out to Braemar for the weekend when the Police stopped the convoy and Heavy had to go to the phone and get the sad news. When we arrived Heavy at the village Hall told the team Al was a big mate of mine as well and we had done some great days together especially after long hill days. He was leaving the RAF and had worked for Heavy for the last   few months he was in the RAF in the Leuchars MRT. He was an incredible mountaineer and man. Always smiling the women loved him, that evening Heavy went to see Al folks he took me as we had been before Al had taken us a few times when we were at Kinloss and I stopped with Al after our sneaky days out. Al’s family lived in Blairgowerie and Heavy organised the funeral, it was an awful time. Al as many do had no Insurance in the Alps for climbing and he and a great officer who was with Heavy pulled the strings to get Al Home. The Team had a Wake at Leuchars where many came from all over it was a very sad night. We left the troops early to celebrate Al’s life, Heavy had a hard time explaining to young Yvette that Al had been killed as just before he had left he had signed her autograph book before he went.   Most of the team had thought they were indestructible and invincible and this was a huge shock to them and the system. Al had been the man Heavy called after Lockerbie it hit us both very hard; running on the hill was never the same again without my big mate.  I was getting a bit older now and starting to slow down.

Big Al Mac leod RIP

Big Al Macleod RIP

The team went back into the normal routine of training and call – outs but Al’s death had made many think of what they were doing in the mountains.  Al had pushed big routes in the Alps in the Himalayas just missing out on the summit of Everest by the West Ridge. He had not long returned from Shiviling where he summited and told us that RAF MR  could achieve so much more on a purely RAF MR expedition. Heavy had taken him ice climbing to Canada a s a young lad where they had so much fun and I loved the tales, he would pop by the wee house in Dairsie when he was bouldering nearby. He would  always brighten the day with his tales, great appetite  and huge smile. Life had to go on though and RAF Kinloss beckoned..

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Family, Flora, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, PTSD | 2 Comments

Dog Tales from the back of a Land rover part 12 – Christmas 1988, Tranter’s Round – Jaguar Crash at St Abbs Head.

After Lockerbie there were massive reports to be done and this was before the Leuchars Team as always went out for the Festive period. It is hard to imagine how could we be festive after what had happened. The Lockerbie Disaster and the Teams were all over the news and Heavy was getting pressured by the media and the military. For the first time the World’s Media was there at the scene and it was hectic it was early days of satellite technology. As I said when we arrived back the Station Commander met us with some beer as we got back to Leuchars. We were now the flavour of the month on the Station but everyone in the team found it so hard to get on with life. The troops went home to families and a few could not cope, what could you say after what they had seen and found solace with each other. Lucky we had only one day at work and everyone was asking questions.  We were all looking forward to a break away from the pressure and the hills where we could sort out our heads. As a dog I could see the changes in the troops. Normally we will get about 12 who stay out over Christmas that year we had over 20 and the complete team came out over the period. Many of the team came back and forwards and there was much coming and going and trying to get to grips with it all.  Most l found it hard to cope, the troops had a wild night in Kingussie where we were staying and Heavy looked after them all. We were so lucky that the village looked after us even the local Policeman Jimmy Simpson the SARDA man-made sure we were okay. Next day Heavy and I went for run out to Ben MacDui just him and me, it was great to clear the head. It was bitter day and we did not stop we got some looks as we ran over the ridge in trainers when many were in full winter kit. The troops met us on the way back Heavy was really tired as the days without sleep had taken so much out of him.  That night the team looked after Heavy and his great mate Al MacLeod was sent over to look after him from Kinloss who were at Fort William. You found who your true friends were.

Stephen and Teallach

Stephen and Teallach

 

Life changed after that and Heavy has written about it in-depth so I will leave it there. He changed a lot and became very aggressive. grumpy, upset and he was exhausted and ill and had problems for a long time to come. In addition but great for me he and Vicky got together in among all this tragedy and I met a young Stephen, Vicky’s young son who I really took to. I remembered Yvette from Wales. The small house at Dairsie was soon full of kids and it was a great time for me. I got really looked after a few new rules but what fun I had with the kids. Yvette bought a cat into the house Clova and it used to take the micky out of me, Clova knew that it was protected in the house that was her environment. She would regularly wait till I fell asleep then run across my back or in front of me, but I would get her back and pinch her food and I got to like it. When we got outside it was different matter and we had some fun together but if I got too pushy I was rewarded by a swipe across my nose!

Tranters Day

Tranters Day

After the New Year we had a visit for the whole Team by Military Psychiatrist’s. a group of 6 arrived at the Team HQ and Heavy got a real grilling, I was under the desk at the time! Then the Team had a joint briefing and many were upset that Heavy had asked for help for the Team. This was the early days of PTSD and in the much good came out of it. These were very early days and we were all learning how to cope.

1985 Teallach mamores adj

It took a long time for Heavy to recover but he did and had a break from the hills and some family time. He did became very ill but the Team carried him after he went sick and the kids and his partner did their best but this was a tricky time.  I still went out with the team but we had some great days as a family on the hills. On our local Munro, s  Mayar and Dreish we got off a bit late Stephen was very young and on the way back I did my unusual of climbing a deer fence but got my carabiner caught in the wire at the top.  I was hanging upside down Stephen was crying as he thought I had it but Yvette and Heavy climbed up and sorted it out. I got told to make sure the carabiner was locked when not in use. I also got into trouble as if I had no water  in my bowl would find the nearest toilet and if clean I would drink out of it with my carabiner clanging in the bowl.  I was getting domesticated and so was Heavy.

Life went on the call outs kept coming and the Team was immense, what they had been through made them a special group. We had an aircraft crash near St Abbs Head when a Jaguar flew into the sea Cliffs and that involved a abseil down cliffs that were on fire. The team coped with everything and we had some incredible hill days. After Heavy got fit again we managed “Tranter Round” a big day in 22 and half hours, just Heavy and me. We had tried it twice before but this time managed it. It was just the two of us together and what a day it was.

St Abbs Head

St Abbs Head

I was getting a bit older and feeling the pace a bit but really strong once I was on the hill, we went all over the place and ventured into the North Of Scotland a lot. It was long drives but so worth it to get these great hills and the team loved it. The Mountain Rescue courses were still being run and we even ran the Team Leaders Course at Leuchars.   Then Heavy found out he  may be  posted to RAF Kinloss as Team Leader, next year. He was in the running for the job!

Posted in Aircraft incidents, Family, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, History, Lockerbie, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, PTSD, Views Mountaineering, Views political | Leave a comment

Dog Tales from the back of a Land Rover Part 11 – Working with the Navy Helicopters and Lockerbie

The Borders F111 CRASH

The Borders F111 CRASH

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1988 It was another hard winter with the team dealing with many call – outs. We did everything all over Scotland and the young team responded so well. Heavy was very busy, we had a few nasty call outs in Glencoe and also did some work with the Navy Sea King Helicopter at Prestwick at Gannet. We all knew our way round these wild corries a bit better and did some steep searches even on 4 legs. I went down with Heavy to Prestwick and we had some fun with the Naval aircrew and they became great friends, most of them had beards but lovely people and once they got used to me they were fine. We also did a few more Plane Crashes in the Borders a USA F111.

 

We met some very high-ranking USA Military people who were flown in after we had sorted it out. They were impressed but not with our communications and gave us a huge mobile phone that they moved some satellites for it too work and that was 1988. I was in the Control with Heavy when it was getting sorted out and when he spoke to us again he realised we had a GPO Line in the wagon. Heavy had arranged that on any incidents that he called a magic number and they grabbed a line from the nearest pole and ran it into our tent or control point, We also had many visitors and great days with the members of the Hong Kong Civil Aid Team who worked with us most years.

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We had some adventures with them and also some fun days of the hill. We also had lots of visitors to the MRT Section and on the annual Inspection as it does everything gets tidied up. When the great man arrived the Team is all smart and completely different from normal. Heavy was running about daft and the Station Commander who did not really like me wanted me tied up for the great event. As always Heavy let me sit outside watching. It is said that when they arrived in a cavalcade that a USA President would have been impressed by I walked up to the staff car as he walked out and had a pea on the tyre. The troops were sniggering, the CO not impressed at all and for a while Heavy was a marked man ( as always) I became a legend overnight!

 

Not real !

Not real !

 

Things were going so well but Heavy had not a break for about a year and if he did it was away on an Expedition and I had a holiday but still got out with the team. The team goes out Christmas and New Year and it was a busy time for weather and the odd call – out. Heavy was taking time off for the first time a few days off and was getting things sorted out. He and Dianne had split up but were still friends and then out of the blue his Life changed. It all happened at once as it does.

We got the call that a Jumbo Jet had crashed near the Borders, This was real nightmare. He had a major turmoil going that day on in his life as a person he loved dearly had arrived from down South and they were planning to get together. It was a very complicated tale and Heavy will tell you about it. She had just arrived of the train and been in the house for two hours when Lockerbie occurred.   Heavy had to go straight down brief the Team and then sort out his personal life and travel down after the Team.

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We were an hour behind the team had a Police escort and us in Heavy’s Old car from the door of his house and as we drove down the closed motorway we could see the fires in the distance. It was hell for a few days I was kept out-of-the-way the first night but after that I went out with the team Heavy went out on his own and came back in bits to see what was going on . I will never forget those few days, the smells and scenes would like everyone stay with us forever. I had been to many aircraft crashes but nothing ever like this. The civilian MRT and many Search Dogs were there for days and weeks after it is a tale that has been written about so often. As always in this turmoil the locals were great we stayed in the local High School and were fed by the WRVS, I was fed as well every day, but after 3 days we were glad to leave. Heavy was exhausted but he did not go home. His personal life would have to be  on hold as he wrote the reports of the tragedy that had to be done immediately. As he wrote through the night so many troops came in and chatted. These were hard men yet they were in bits at what they had seen. It was going to be a very difficult Christmas for us all.

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