Memorial to sea tragedy is set to be unveiled at Amble harbour

Pinnace 1386 entering Leith, Edinburgh,  in 1963.
Pinnace 1386 entering Leith, Edinburgh, in 1963.

A memorial is to be unveiled at Amble’s harbour this weekend to commemorate a seaside tragedy.

Three crew members of the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Pinnace 1386 died on September 29, 1969, when their vessel was overwhelmed by heavy seas and capsized while trying to enter the harbour.

The three men lost were Flt Lt Bell (skipper), Cpl Ivil WO/p and SAC Denson WO/p.

The memorial will be placed tomorrow and will be unveiled and dedicated at 2pm on Sunday, by serving RAF officer Wing Commander Tim Brown.

People due to attend include the Mayor of Amble, Harbour Master Alan Punton, survivors, rescuers and family members of the men lost and serving Amble Lifeboat crew.

The Pinnace had steamed down the coast from Broughty Ferry, in Scotland, in heavy swell conditions to carry out exercises with the helicopters based at RAF Acklington that evening.

The rescue services from HM Coastguard and 202 Search and Rescue Squadron, based at RAF Acklington, together with both Amble lifeboats, combined their efforts in order to save what lives they could.

Local divers, JB Sample and E Bramham, attempted to dive under the boat, but were unable to get past the wires and ropes which had become a hazard underwater.

Later, a team of Royal Navy divers boarded the upturned hull and created a hole to enable a survivor to escape after several hours trapped.

No local memorial was placed at Amble, but as 2018 is the centenary of the formation of the RAF and the Royal Air Force Marine Craft Unit, it was felt that, as the three men were the only personnel on active sea duty to die since the end of the Second World War, it would be a fitting tribute to them.

The Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft Section Club decided to raise funds for the memorial, mainly between themselves and the families affected by the tragedy. Amble Town Council also made a donation.

The memorial will be blessed by Rev John McDermott, vicar of St Cuthbert’s Church.