Highlands & Islands

Work starts on remote war grave on Ben More Assynt

Chinook at Ben More
Image caption A Chinook carrying gear needed for the work to improve a memorial to six dead airmen

A military Chinook helicopter has lifted equipment to a mountainside as part of work to upgrade one of the most remote war graves in the UK.

Six airmen from Scotland, England and South Africa died when their Avro Anson crashed on Ben More Assynt, in the north west Highlands, in April 1941.

It was almost a month before their bodies were found.

A simple metal cross and a cairn at the site will be replaced with a granite block inscribed with the men's names.

Military personnel, including staff from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, and volunteers have been preparing the site ahead of the installation of the new memorial.

A Chinook and crew from the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron airlifted equipment to the location at the weekend.

Image caption An engine at the site of the fatal Avro Anson crash

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is leading the memorial project.

Last year, the commission made efforts to contact the families of six airmen to let them know about the new memorial, which is to be placed where the men were buried, close to the crash site.

The crew were flying their twin-engined aircraft on a night-time cross country navigation exercise out of RAF Kinloss in Moray on 13 April.

They crashed at 701m (2,300ft) on Ben More Assynt, a Munro near Inchnadamph, in Sutherland.

Those who died were: Pilot Officer William Drew, from Barrow in Furness in Cumbria; Sgt Jack Emery, of Trowbridge in Wiltshire; Flt Sgt Thomas Kenny, from Barnsley in South Yorkshire; Sgt Charles Mitchell, of Aberdeen; Flying Officer James Steyn, from Johannesburg; and Sgt Harold Tompsett, of Croydon in Surrey.

Because of bad weather and the remoteness of the area, their bodies were not discovered until 25 May.

Iain Anderson, the commission's supervisor in Scotland, was guided to the crash site last year by David "Heavy" Whalley, a former RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue team leader.

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