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Thread: RAF Mountain Rescue World War II

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    Default RAF Mountain Rescue World War II

    Hi everyone,

    With RAF Mountain Rescue Crews available today, was there a dedicated RAF Mountain Rescue Crew during World War II to investigate possible crashes and retrieve crash victims within Great Britain. I understand that manpower in the RAF was dedicated to fighting the threat of the Luftwaffe and the like, so was this type of rescue left to civilian authorities of the day?

    Regards.

    Steve.

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    Hi Steve
    Look at http://www.rafweb.org/Mountain%20Rescue.htm. It shows that the Mountain Rescue Service was formed in 1943. There isn't much detail and what there is seems to refer to the current Service, but it's a start. The chances are they relied on the local safety services and turned out such Service Personnel that could be got from camps in the local area to back them up.The investigation of crashes would be a separate matter with it's own specialists.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Default Raf Mountain Rescue Ww2

    Hi Steve,

    Although F/Lt George Graham B.E.M had worked on rescues at Llandwrog,N.Wales as early as May 1942 with whatever men became available for attendance of aircraft crashes, it was not until 6th July 43 that he had a team formed known as RAF Mountain Rescue and a station log was set up, and only Officially designated RAF Mountain Rescue Service on 22nd January 1944 by the Air Ministry.

    For further info a number of books are available:

    `Two Star Red` by Gwen Moffatt.
    `Whensoever` 50 years of the RAF Mountain Rescue Service. by Frank Card.
    `Legend of Llandwrog` by Edward Doylerush.
    `All in a day`s work - RAF Mountain Rescue in Snowdonia 1944-46` David W.Earl.

    Regards,

    Dave.

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    Default Mountain Rescue awards

    Almost certainly not complete, but perhaps of interest:

    GRAHAM, George Desmond, F/L (61855, RAFVR*) - No.9 (Observer) Advanced Flying Training Unit - Member, Order of the British Empire - awarded as per London Gazette dated 2 June 1943 Public Record Office Air 2/9609, courtesy of Steve Brew, has citation.

    "Flight Lieutenant Graham is a medical officer, and in addition to his normal duties, has displayed outstanding energy and initiative in assisting in the rescue of aircraft crews which have crashed in the mountains of North Wales. During the last eight months he has proceeded to the scene of twelve such crashes which have occurred at height up to 3,000 feet. He is himself an experienced mountaineer and his skill and ability have been of great assistance on such occasions, with the result that out of twelve airmen rescued, eleven have been successful recoveries."

    SMITH, Donald William MacKay, A/S/L (41483, Royal Air Force) - No.20 Operational Training Unit - Mention in Despatches - Awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1943. Originally recommended for an Air Force Cross for New Year Honours List, downgraded to this award; text in Public Record Office Air 2/8871 (courtesy of Steve Brew).

    "During the last five months Squadron Leader Smith has been flight commander in the Anson flight where he has worked with unfailing energy and has engendered an excellent team spirit between the air crew and ground personnel of his flight. No duty has been too difficult for him. Recently Squadron Leader Smith displayed fine airmanship and skill when flying a rescue party to the scene of an aircraft crash among rugged mountains in Scotland. This officer, by his keenness, energy and devotion to duty, has set an outstanding example to all ranks."

    WHITWORTH, Fred, Flight Sergeant (750159, RAFVR*) - No.1 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit - British Empire Medal - awarded as per London Gazette dated 14 June 1945. Public Record Office Air 2/9056, courtesy of Steve Brew, has citation.

    "This airman has been in charge of a section of the Repair and Inspection Squadron for the past two years. He has been employed on major inspection and major repairs of Anson aircraft. Flight Sergeant Whitworth has at all times shown energy, initiative and zeal, combined with a very efficient application of his technical skill. He has contributed much to the serviceability and high standard of aircraft servicing which has been maintained. He has also acted as Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the Mountain Rescue Party. During many rescue operations in the local mountains Flight Sergeant Whitworth has shown outstanding resourcefulness and endurance under extreme weather conditions. He has set a fine example to his men."

    And although not relevant to experience in Britain, the following may be deemed a useful counterpoint:

    HANSBURY, John, Flight Sergeant (1547050, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve) - attached Aircrew Mountain Centre - British Empire Medal - awarded as per London Gazette dated 14 June 1945. Public Record Office Air 2/9094 has citation.

    "Is attached to this unit as Mountaineering and Trekking instructor. He has shown fine leadership and great courage in perilous situations. On one occasion in November 1944 he was in charge of a party of five aircrews on trek. When at Matayan in Ladakh they were running short of food and fodder for their animals. Heavy snow had fallen but, as no further food could be brought and conditions had improved, he decided to risk the crossing of the Zoji La (11,250 feet). While crossing the pass they were caught in a blizzard of unparalleled severity for the time of the year. Two of the baggage ponies fell down in a snow slope into a river while the other two lay down from severe exhaustion and refused to move; one subsequently perished from cold. The track to Baltal was covered with three to four feet of soft snow making progress almost impossible. In addition, a fierce wind was blowing and the temperature was below zero. Despite these difficult and dangerous conditions, Flight Sergeant Hansbury brought his party through to safety without any hurt other than minor front bite, although at times the pony men and some of the aircrew were in a state of the most extreme exhaustion. His gallantry and fortitude were worthy of the highest praise."

    HABSBURG, John, Flight Sergeant (1547050, RAFVR*) - Aircrew Mountain Centre, Srinagar - British Empire Medal - awarded as per London Gazette dated 14 June 1945. Public Record Office Air 2/9056, courtesy of Steve Brew, has citation.

    "Flight Sergeant Habsburg has been attached to this unit as mountaineering and trekking instructor. He has shown fine leadership and great courage in perilous situations. On one occasion in November 1944, he was in charge of a party of five aircrews on trek. When at Matayan in Ladakh they were running short of food and fodder for their animals. Heavy snow had fallen but, as no further food could be brought and conditions had improved he decided to risk the crossing of the Zoji La (11,250 feet). While crossing the pass they were caught in a blizzard of unparalleled severity for the time of the year. Two of the baggage ponies fell down a snow slope into a river while the other two lay down from severe exhaustion and refused to move - one subsequently perished from cold. The track from Baltal was covered with 3 to 4 feet of soft snow, making progress almost impossible. In addition, a fierce wind was blowing and the temperature was below zero. Despite these difficult and dangerous conditions, Flight Sergeant Habsburg brought his party through to safety without any hurt other than minor frost bite, although at times the pony man and some of the aircrew were in a state of the most extreme exhaustion. His gallantry and fortitude were worthy of the highest praise."

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    Hi,

    To add to what Dick said , that service personnel could/would be used as available. RAF Harrowbeer in Devon on the edge of Dartmoor took responsibility for search and rescue when an aircradft came down on Dartmoor.When going through the station log there are references to approx. 20 crashes to which a varying number of personnel were dispatched along with an ambulance.It is also interesting that Harrowbeer had a larger MT pool than it should have bearing in mind its size, I had pondered as to whether there might have been a larger allocation of vehicles to cater for some kind of search and rescue section.

    regards to all

    Colin

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    Hi Steve, sorry to hijack your post...

    Dave, do you have any of the books you mention? I ask as I have a case of three pilots of 41 Squadron killed simultaneously in bad weather on 22 October 1942 when they flew into the side of 2,077-foot Tarrenhendre, about 7 miles NE of Tywyn, Merioneth.

    They were found after two days of air searches, which were followed by a team that went up to the peak to retrieve their remains and carry them back down the mountainside and transport them to Barmouth. The following day, another party was sent to retrieve the remains of the aircraft for inspection.

    This sounds like just the sort of job people like Flt. Lt. George Graham would have been involved in, and I would like to find more about the work of the rescue team on this occasion, as I have no information on their efforts beyond the bare facts mentioned in my previous paragraph.

    If you have any of the books mentioned, would you please check to see if the 41 Squadron incident is mentioned, please?

    Thanks
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Default RAF Mountain Rescue World War II

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the interesting response to my thread very interesting indeed.

    Steve, thats ok, no problem. I'm always interested in anything anyone has to say on any subject really. It all adds up to gaining knowledge about everything concerning RAF matters.

    I may not respond to many threads on here but I can assure everyone I read each thread intently and I am impressed as to the amount of information available and the wealth of knowledge within the forums of this website.

    Regards.

    Steve.

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