ANSON N9857. Loch Assynt, Highland.

A Bleak and Lonely Grave on a Scottish Mountain


 

Two Avro Anson MkI aircraft flying in formation.

Anson N9857 was on a night training flight from No 19 Operational Unit, Kinloss when it was reported missing on April 13th 1941. Despite an extensive search nothing was found and nothing was heard of it for six weeks until a chance siting on Ben More Assynt at 2,200 feet by a shepherd was reported. As there were no Mountain Rescue Team (They were not organised until 1943) a recovery squad was sent out to recover the bodies being guided by two volunteer guides.

Map of Scotland.  Click for Loch Assynt and Ben More.

 

As six weeks had passed the six bodies of the crew and trainees were in quite a state of decomposition and it was considered dangerous as well as very unpleasant job to bring them down from the mountain to be buried in the nearest Churchyard. The decision was made and carried out that the bodies should be buried near where the aircraft wreckage lay. The bodies, seven in all were laid side by side on a communal grave and a cairn of peat and local rocks was built over them. A small cross was erected and the gun turret had been placed next to the cairn.

 

The cairn and other items remained untouched and gradually being eroded away until in 1985 some Air Cadets from No 2489 (Bridge of Don) squadron under the command of Flight Lieutenant Niall Aslen set out to rebuild and refurbish the grave. They rebuilt the cairn and topped it with a nine foot cross as well as replacing the small cross in position. The gun turret was also replaced and some other bits and pieces of the crashed aircraft’s equipment were added.

The new cairn, plate with their names on, six added crosses and other items were dedicated and blessed by The Reverend Fred Hurst of The Church of Scotland at Lochinver whilst the lads of the Air Cadets stood to attention and formed a guard of honour for the buried airmen. A nice touch was that some relatives also joined the group for the three hour walk from the nearest road for the ceremony.

In the wall of the churchyard of Inchnadamph, a hamlet at the south eastern end of Loch Assynt in South West Sutherland about Four and a half miles from the crash site the War Graves commission built a small memorial to the lost airmen. This memorial made of local cobbles and rocks with a plaque with the names of the men and a small flower trough, was also refurbished.

 


This site is a work in progress.


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