Westland Wessex XT674

Ben More, Crianlarich, Stirling













Aircraft Photo / Type Photo


BELOW: Westland Wessex HC2 (WS-58) XT674.


 This was the aircraft that crashed at Ben More near Crianlarich while on a rescue mission.


Westland Wessex XT674 before the crash at ben more

Photo: 1984 Mike Freer - Touchdown-aviation.


Permission is granted to copy, distribute and / or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only as published by the Free Software Foundation... [Wikimedia Commons].



BELOW: Similar to the helicopter featured here, Royal Navy Westland Wessex HC.5C XT463 was photographed in the 1970's while exercising in Cyprus. Subsequently, this aircraft was assigned to 84 Squadron RAF based at Akrotiri, Cyprus.


a westland wessex of the same type on exercise in Cyprus


Photo, Courtesy Ron Duffy






Aircraft Type and Background


RAF Westland Wessex HC.2 (WS-58) / XT674



The Wessex HC.2 was built under licence from Sikorsky Helicopters by Westland Aircraft Limited, later to become Westland Helicopters (now Augusta Westland). It first flew in 1958, and was used by the RAF as a general duties helicopter.

The helicopter was powered by two Bristol- Siddeley (later, Rolls-Royce) Gnome turboshaft engines. If required, the aircraft could be equipped with seating for up to 16 troops / passengers or 8 stretchers.

The Wessex could also be armed with wire-guided missiles, rockets, or machine guns.





Aircraft Accident Details                      


This Westland Wessex helicopter from RAF Leuchars was being piloted by Flt Lt Hugh Pierce. F/O Christopher Palgrave was his navigator, and Michael Anderson was the winchman on board. Wing Commander Rodgers, CO of 22 Squadron, was also on this flight—although he had deplaned at Benmore Farm before the accident occurred.


At the time of the accident, a Leuchars team had been at Dalmally for the weekend. The Westland Wessex helicopter (XT 674) had assisted with the airlift of a young injured male from Ben Cruachan and was then diverted to Ben More. The Leuchars team then packed up the vehicles and headed for Ben More.


Meanwhile, the helicopter had arrived at the scene. However, while attempting to land two additional members for the ground rescue party—Sergeant Harry Lawrie and Constable Joseph Ramsay—the helicopter's rotor blade came into contact with outlying rock. The helicopter then struck the ground and began sliding down the hillside in the direction of another approaching mountain rescue team from Killin. Fortunately, the rescue team managed to escape from the path of the helicopter as it slid, tail-first, down the steep slope. Killin MRT quickly regrouped and managed to rescue the helicopter crew from the smouldering wreckage before the aircraft burst into flames.


On their arrival at the foot of Ben More (Benmore Farm), the remainder of the Leuchars team members were horrified to see a huge fireball on the hill as the fuel tanks ruptured. (Mick Anderson was a regular guest of the team and 22sqn was `our` helicopter). Two Leuchars members with comms equipment were immediately dispatched to assess the scene (arriving on foot at 2,200ft in under 20 minutes), while others were sent with stretchers and equipment.


Co-ordinated by the first two members, the evacuation of the crew including the badly injured Anderson and Ramsay was carried out by 202 Sqn Sea King, and Harry Lawrie was carried down by the Leuchars and the still shocked Killin Mountain Rescue Team members. On the following day the Leuchars team recovered the body of Sarah Noble. Then, they remained at Crianlarich assisting the crash investigation and recovery teams for over a week.


The surviving crew members were airlifted to Stirling Royal Infirmary by a Westland Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth, about 140 miles away.


(Many thanks to Martin Frew for kindly providing much of this information.)






Aircraft Crew / Civilian Casualties


Although seriously injured, no crew members died in this accident. Tragically, however, two civilians lost their lives during the incident. These were:

  • Sgt Henry (Harry) John Gauld Lawrie BEM (45) Central Scotland Police. (Now, incorporated within Police Scotland.)

  • Sarah Noble (27). The body of Sarah Noble—the climber whose fall had initiated this search and rescue operation—was discovered in the snow the following day.


A memorial plaque to Sgt Lawrie now stands on this site.





Crash Site Photos


Note: Much of the wreckage shown in these photos has since been removed from the crash site.



BELOW: The remains of Westland Wessex XT674 on the hillside at Ben More near Crianlarich.


the remains of the wessex helicopter on the hillside at ben more near crianlarich


Photo: © 1987-2013 RAF Leuchars MRT



BELOW: Fire destroyed practically the whole airframe.


fire has destroyed practically the whole airframe


Photo: © 1987-2013 RAF Leuchars MRT



BELOW: Another view of the Wessex helicopter's gutted airframe.


another view of the wessex helicopter's gutted airframe


Photo: © 1987-2013 RAF Leuchars MRT



BELOW: The tail section of the Westland Wessex helicopter.


One of the tyres from the landing gear can be seen nearby.


the tail section of the Westland Wessex helicopter


Photo: © 1987-2013 RAF Leuchars MRT




BELOW: Ben More from NE side looking toward the summit.


Ben More from NE side looking toward the summit


Photo: © 2007 James Towill




BELOW: The remains of XT 674 following the accident on Ben More (Crianlarich)


remains of XT 674 following the accident on Ben More


Photo: © 2010 Martin Frew



It is understood that this section has been removed from the crash site since the photo was taken.























Crash Date / Site



Accident Date: 1 Feb 1987


Accident Site:

Ben More (1,174m / 3,852ft)


Region: Stirling


Nearest town or village:



Nearest large towns:

None in this general area. Nearest available: Perth (E) or Alexandria (S)


OS Grid Ref: N/A


GPS Ref. N/A


Present Condition: It is believed that almost all remaining wreckage has now been removed from the crash site, including the section shown below.




Aircraft Details



Registration or Serial: XT674


Operator:  RAF (22 Squadron RAF. 'B' Flight detachment)


Operating Station: RAF Leuchars


Station Location: Leuchars, St. Andrews, Fife (Between St. Andrews and Dundee).


Current Station Status:

RAF operations will cease in 2013. The station will then be taken over by the army.


Current Station Name (Until Closure): RAF Leuchars






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