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Rescue stories sought for SAR60 anniversary

Published: 25 Jul 2013

The Navy’s rescuers are looking for ‘rescuees’ to help flesh out the story of 60 years of lifesaving.

Organisers of Search and Rescue 60, which celebrates six decades of lifesaving by the Fleet Air Arm, want to build up an archive of first-hand accounts from people saved by the Navy.

Although tales of bravery from aircrew abound over six decades of Royal Navy Search and Rescue, what is in short supply are memories and testimonies of those they helped.
In this year of SAR60, organisers of events commemorating those rescues are appealing for the public – as well as former aircrew – to come forward with their stories.

Those first-hand accounts will help form the backbone of an on-going project to bring together all aspects of the service within a comprehensive archive – preserving the history for years to come.

Although the RN has officially been saving lives since 1953 – 840 souls were rescued in a single night that year during the terrible floods which struck eastern England – SAR statistics have only been compiled for the past 30 years.

In the three decades since records were kept, upwards of 10,000 people have been helped by the two remaining RN Search and Rescue units, HMS Gannet at Prestwick and 771 NAS.

Although rescues such as the 1979 Fastnet race, the Boscastle floods in 2004, the foundering of the Napoli in 2007 and the Riverdance which ran aground at Blackpool in 2008 hit the headlines, the SAR60 team wants to hear from those helped by less dramatic rescues... less dramatic for the fliers that is.

The aircrews at Gannet, based at Prestwick, near Ayr, and 771, based at Culdrose in Cornwall, regular carry out hospital transfers, or ferry road accident casualties to casualty and, in Gannet’s case, especially, people injured or missing in the mountains. Many such missions are ‘ordinary’ for the fliers, but far from ordinary for the people they help.

Nine other Royal Naval Air Stations have been involved in Search and Rescue over the past 60 years. They were:

  • Eglinton, near Londonderry;
  • Ford, near Littlehampton in Sussex;
  • Brawdy, near Haverfordwest;
  • Gosport;
  • Lee-on-Solent HMS Daedalus);
  • Portland;
  • Yeovilton;
  • Lossiemouth;
  • and Anthorn on the Solway Coast in Cumbria.

To share your experiences, email [email protected] including your name and contact details, as well as when you served or were rescued. Or write to RN SAR 60, 771 NAS, RNAS Culdrose, Helston, Cornwall, TR12 7RH. Please do not submit pictures.

See for more details.


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