Valley Report A 03 Apr 17 05/17

This is a redacted Annex As supplied by the AHB, our only source at present i.e. 2024. Not only are all personnel details redacted but so are photos showing Troop’s faces.
Any additional information or comments are shown in blue italics.
It was converted to Word by Brian Canfer and then uploaded to the website by Jim Morrison.

Annex A to
Section 2 of
MRS Orders

Mountain Rescue Service
Team Leader
RAF Valley
LL65 3NY



Mountain Rescue Service
Warrant Officer
RAF Valley
Anglesey LL65 3NY

DFTS: 95581 7458
DFTS Fax: 95581 7529 RAF Mail:

See Distribution

Our Reference: MRTVAL/OPS Date: 03 Apr 17


Report A Serial No: VAL/05/17 Date of Incident: 29 Mar 17

Referring to Form R: N/A  Incident No: N/A

Military Callouts: 1      Total Military Persons Assisted this Year: 0 Civilian Callouts: 4      Total Civilian Persons Assisted this Year: 4 Nature of Incident: Civilian Helicopter Crash – Twin Squirrel

Incident Area: Rhinog Fawr

VMRT Times:Alerted: 2240 29 Mar17
 Deployed: 2320 29 Mar17
 On Scene: 0045 30 Mar17
 Off Task: 2000 02 Apr 17

Personnel on Task: 18    of Current Team Strength: 23 Total Man Hours: 1678

Total Vehicle Miles:     C3: 164

Ops Vehicles: 616

Load Carrier: 164

LMRT Times:Alerted: 0730 30 Mar17
 Deployed: 0830 30 Mar17
 On Scene: 1400 30 Mar17
 Off Task: 2200 31 Mar 17

Personnel on Task: 13    of Current Team Strength: 25 Total Man Hours: 494

Total Vehicle Miles:     C3: 406

Ops Vehicles: 812

Load Carrier: 406

Other SAR Forces Involved: CG936, NW Police, South Snowdonia Mountain Rescue, Llanberis Mountain Rescue, Ogwen Mountain Rescue, Aberglaslyn Mountain Rescue, Aberdyfi Mountain Rescue, AAIB, JARTS


At approximately 2220hrs on Wednesday 29 Mar 17, VMRT Team Leader Ch Tech Ben Wood received a generic text message from NW Police informing of the on-going search for an overdue helicopter. He contacted WO MRS, who then offered up assistance from RAF MRS via an entry on SARCALL. Within 20 minutes WO MRS (WO Willie MacRitchie ) then received formal tasking, and the team was activated. An initial deployment of 14 personnel departed RAF Valley at 2320hrs while WO MRS established himself at Silver Control, Police HQ Colwyn Bay.

DAY 1 – 30 Mar 17

By 0045hrs Thursday 30 Mar, VMRT arrived at the RV located at South Snowdonia Mountain Rescue base. Further information was received about the flight path of the helicopter, the make and model, persons on board and particulars of search areas. VMRT began their first search area at 0130hrs, which was concentrated to the east of Rhinog Fach. This search area took 4 hours to clear with no sighting or clues of the missing aircraft. The team then returned to South Snowdonia MR base for debriefing and planning for follow up search areas. Troops were rested for two hours prior to commencing the next search area.

As VMRT were preparing to return to the search area VMRT TL received a phone call to say that the aircraft had been found by one of the local civilian Mountain Rescue Teams. VMRT troops were briefed on the location of the crash site and informed that there were no survivors.

The location of the crash site near the summit of Rhinog Fawr, VMRT relocated to their previous location to establish an ICP. Two parties were tasked to take control of the crash site and relieve the civilian team who were currently on scene. Sqn Ldr [REDACTED S.40] organised the parties on scene and set up a cordon as best as possible around the crash site, at this stage VMRT covered the deceased.

RAF Leeming MRT (LMRT) was alerted at approx. 0730hrs. The team deployed to North Wales at 0830hrs with the intention of joining a missing aircraft (AC) search. Whilst the team was in transit, LMRT was notified that the AC had been located along with the five missing casualties.

LMRT arrived at the Snowdonia Mountain Rescue base around 1400hrs, where the initial situation was explained and a plan brought up to release the current cordon group with a LMRT overnight cordon guard. 4 experienced troops (WO [REDACTED S.40] – SWO, Sgt [REDACTED S.40] – MRT, Cpl [REDACTED S.40] – RUAS and Cpl [REDACTED S.40] – MRT) were selected to set off approx. 1600hrs and arrived at the crash site by 1730hrs. A Party Leader crash site handover was given before the VMRT departed back to the FOB.

Approx. 1900hrs, a NW Police DVI Inspector was escorted to the crash site by LMRT Team Leader (FS [REDACTED S.40] – MRT). This was to give the lead DVI situational awareness of the crash site prior to his team’s deployment and body recovery. All information was gathered and both individuals returned to the ICP for administration.

It was decided by WO MRS, VMRT TL and LMRT TL an extraction by Mountain Rescue personnel was unfeasible as it would be dangerous and highly man power intensive, thus exposing an unnecessary amount of troops to a traumatic scene.

DAY 2 – 31 Mar 17

A party of 3 Valley personnel deployed to the crash site at approx. 0600hrs in order to escort 4 Air Accident Investigation Branch members to the area.  They would also relieve the troops who guarded the area overnight so that they could return to be rested. A further party of 5 were prepared to move to the crash site. The relief party arrived at the scene around 1000hrs, accompanied by the AAIB. A full crash site handover was given to the AAIB by the LMRT party leader on scene. Once complete LMRT left the crash site and returned to the FOB for administration. The ICP was notified that an earlier request for helicopter assistance had been granted therefore, the 5 troops plus 11 Police DVI officers were able to be lifted to the crash site. These personnel were tasked with the recovery of the bodies and body parts and preparing them for a helicopter extraction.

The weather had improved by around 1600hrs and Coastguard Rescue 936 from Caernarfon, was able to land on scene and remove the bodies to Bangor Hospital. They also returned later to transport most of the police officers off the Mountain. By 2000hrs the decision was taken that further overnight guard of the area would not be required, all troops and the remaining police personnel returned to the ICP. RAF Leeming MRT stood down and arrived back at base at 2200hrs.

DAY 3 – 01 Apr 17

By the morning of Saturday 01 Apr 17 VMRT had established a FOB in Tremadoc and JARTS teams had arrived on scene. JARTS and AAIB required escorting to the crash site to carry out recovery and investigation. A party of 9 VMRT at 0830hrs ready to escorted JARTS and AAIB back up to the crash site.

VMRT were able to assist JARTS in the recovery of the wreckage and pack smaller parts of the aircraft into transportation bags ready for helicopter extraction. Still hampered by the variable weather, the helicopter extraction was unable to take place. VMRT escorted JARTS team and AAIB back down to the ICP and at 1730hrs were stood down for the evening.

DAY 4 – 02 Apr 17

A smaller party of 4 VMRT members deployed from the FOB at 0730hrs and were tasked once again with assisting JARTS and AAIB, escorting them back up to the crash site so the process of recovering the wreckage could continue. A complete contrast in the weather meant that the 2 x civil Helicopters were able to transport all party members and recovery teams up to the scene, saving valuable man hours. Again, VMRT assisted the teams in packaging the wreckage in preparation for it to be extracted by helicopter. A much smoother process than previous days meant that all recovery parties and VMRT members were off the Mountain by 1700hrs and the recovery of the wreckage was labelled as complete.

The 4 VMRT members then returned to the FOB in Tremadoc where the rest of the team had been standing by throughout the day. VMRT then returned in convoy back to RAF Valley and stood down for the remainder of the evening.

RAF Valley and RAF Leeming MRT’s were faced with some traumatic scenes over the course of the operation and as such, will be offered appropriate TRiM programs. The efforts of both teams cannot be praised enough in what can only be described as abhorrent circumstances in treacherous conditions and a truly awkward environment.

News report – 12829019

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