News

Work Completed at UK’s Remotest War Grave

01 August 2013

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has completed a project to mark the crash site of an RAF crew killed in the Scottish Highlands during the Second World War.

Pilot Officer William Drew, Sergeant Jack Emery, Sergeant Harold Arthur Tompsett, Flying Officer James Henry Steyn (DFC), Sergeant Charles McPherson Mitchell and Flight Sergeant Thomas Brendon Kenny were killed when their Anson plane crashed on Ben More Assynt in April 1941.

Due to the inaccessibility of the crash site, the crew were buried on the mountain - their final resting places marked with a cairn.  The crew are commemorated by the Commission on a memorial in the nearest graveyard at Inchnadamph Old Churchyard, 20 miles north of Ullapool.

In 2012, the Commission decided to replace the existing cairn, which had deteriorated on account of the harsh climate, with a granite marker weighing some 600 kilograms, to identify and protect the aircrew's burial site from becoming lost or disturbed in the future.

The site on Ben Moore Assynt is one of the Commission's most remote sites in the UK and the logistics of replacing the cairn have proved challenging.  But the Commission's efforts were supported by a variety of interested parties, including the Royal Air Force who assisted with the use of a Chinook helicopter from RAF Odiham to airlift the new marker, necessary tools and materials onto the mountain, where work to replace the cairn began in May 2013.

The Commission has kept the families of the crew informed throughout the project and for Bernie Tompsett - nephew of Sergeant Harold Arthur Tompsett - the installation of the new  marker has been a great comfort.  He said, "It was a time when so many families learned of the tragic loss of their loved ones…Perhaps we are fortunate that they came to rest in such a beautiful part of Scotland."

The Commission's Peter Francis added, "The Commission is delighted that we have been able to carry out this work and we are very grateful to all the organisations and individuals who have so generously assisted in the project. We couldn't have done this without them.

The new stone will secure the grave site for years to come and help honour the sacrifice of six brave young men. "